12 Holiday Traditions to Share with Your Family
We all have our Holiday traditions. You know, those never fail “To Dos” we check off our list between Thanksgiving and New Years Eve. As a young family we are still determining what our traditions will be. A mix of my family favs, his family favs, and our own individual family favorites. Here’s a round up of our current never fail traditions we have checked off the list the last few years. *Spoiler Alert. There are no elves involved. 

Amy West and family pose for Christmas Card photos.

1. Christmas Card Photos
We established our own photography business in 2006. Family photos were one of our main sources of business so it was important for us to have great photos to showcase our work. Because our holiday season was always full of photo shoots, we got our family photos in early. Even though our photo business has dissolved due to the popularity of this blog, that tradition still stands today. We shoot early in October or before in order to get ahead of the rush. So don’t be surprised to get our photos right after Halloween.

Amy West with her mom and daughters at One Ocean

2. Gingerbread Reveal at 
One Ocean Resort and Spa  
Several of the resorts in our region create stunning Gingerbread creations. The luxurious One Ocean Resort is right in our backyard, and always hosts a festive reveal of their epic Gingerbread creation each year. For the last three or four years we have made it a point to be at the One Ocean Resort Gingerbread reveal to partake in the Christmas Carols, cider, and of course the Gingerbread Cookies. We’ve seen the elves at play on the beach, Santa relaxing in his room, and a giant gingerbread bakery. Who knows what we’ll discover next year? 

Magical Christmas lights in Jacksonville

3. Jammy Ride

The jammy ride was established in my household when I was a kid. It goes like this. 

1. Dress up in your jammies
2. Hop in the car
3. Go enjoy the Christmas lights 

There are several great places to discover lights in my area, but wherever you are, I guarantee you’ll find them much more enjoyable in your p.j.s. 
Sienna smiles as she starts her gingerbread creation.

 4. Gingerbread House/ and Candy Making

I’m not exactly sure how this became important. I think I was just desperate one Christmas season to entertain my energetic toddler so I grabbed at a gingerbread kit at Publix and boom, instant tradition. Now every year the Publix gingerbread kit is a necessity for our Christmas season. I really enjoy seeing how creative my big kid has become in decking out her house. London is still in the “eating the house” phase, so we’ll see how creative she can be maybe next year. In addition to making our yearly gingerbread house, we have an annual baking day my mom and I established years ago that to this day holds true. Buckeyes (an Ohio classic consisting of peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate), and Chex Caramel Corn top the list of items we bake and give away. 

 5. The 12 Days of Christmas Bedtime Singing

One year we got this “12 Days of Christmas Book” when Sienna was like 3, as a gift. Every year after that, singing the classic carol has become a Christmas eason “must have” for us. We start at the beginning of December and sing it literallyyyyy everryyyyy night. At first you are kinda sloppy and can’t remember the words, but by the end of the month we are masters and can sing it forward, backward, and in and Operatic voice! Take a listen and watch for yourself. Even London got into it this year. 
Christmas children's books

6. Christmas Movies and Books 

We have collected a nice array of Christmas books throughout the years. “The Night Before Christmas” is a must of course, “The Christmas Story” about the Nativity is for sure in there, and this retro book about Rudolph from my childhood also found it’s way into our list. Books and movies definitely help create a spirit of magic during our season and can’t be missed.

Sienna and her friend get dressed up for the dance party

7. Bedtime Christmas Dance Party 

One of our newer ways to get our fill of Christmas music is the bedtime Christmas Dance Party. We are big into bedtime dance parties at this house. Add a Star Shower Motion light projector and some Christmas music into the mix and you have an instant disco! This a tradition I have a feeling will be returning year after year.

Sienna at Horse Stamp Inn
 8. Pause and Reflect 

It can be challenging to do, but it’s so important. Taking a moment to pause in the middle of the Holiday Season and reflect on all our gratitude, and the magic of it all is for us, an absolute priority. This year we were so grateful to get away to The Horse Stamp Inn where we were able to unplug for a little bit and just let the kids be kids. It was priceless!

Compassion International is a great avenue to give back

9. Give Back 
I’m so grateful that both side of our family established in us the importance of giving back during the Holiday Season. We are so grateful that all our needs are met. In our gratitude we know that it’s important to give to those less fortunate. Some of our favorite ways are to:
1. Adopt a family to get presents for
3. Purchase gifts through Rethreaded, one of our favorite non profits.
By purposefully giving through one of these venues we try to expose and educate our children to give back.
Champagne and candlelight

10. Enjoy the Romance 
Christmas and New Years are two of the most romantic holidays to look forward to. The candlelight, the magic, the warm fuzzy feelings. It can be challenging to find the time to embrace that magic amidst the hustle and bustle of seasonal events and Christmas shopping. For us that time finally comes on Christmas Eve when the kids scurry off to bed. Mom and Dad stock up the presents, then we sit down to a romantic dinner just for two and make the most of the candle light.  

Masks for a New Years Eve Gala

11. Party 
For me the highlights of the season are all the fun get togethers and parties that are taking place before year end. Whether its a Holiday Open House, a preschool music special, or a corporate office party, I just think it’s fun to get all dolled up and mingle with friends and family. This year we even have a masquerade to attend. We’ll be ringing in the New Year in style!
A baby sits in a rocking chair at the beach in Florida.

12. Go to the Beach

For Floridians, it’s a welcome tradition to seek out the sand on Christmas day. No, we may not be wearing our bikinis, but we’ll soak up the sunshine just the same on December 25th. Sometimes we get a cold front and you’ll see us decked out in our puffy jackets, but more likely than not the weather will take a turn for the warmer side and may just hit 80 degrees. I’m not going to lie. I don’t hate it:)

These are just a few of our favorite traditions. I’d love to hear yours in the comments below. 
Make it a Magical Day!
Until then…
Enjoy the Journey!
xo- Amy West

Sienna shows off her gingerbread men.

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