Moving into December means letting the month of Christmas traditions commence! It is, after all, the most wonderful and magical time of the year! Being a family with young children makes it all that much more special because we get to witness it all through their eyes.
There are so many festive holiday traditions…some popular and others nostalgic and we make sure to check a certain few off of our list every year!
Vermont Family Holiday Traditions
Log Cabin “Gingerbread” Houses
Gingerbread house building is a staple in the holiday season and always has been! There are plenty of pre-made kits that you can buy in store and some don’t even have actual gingerbread involved but instead other fan favorite cookies. Or, you can even fill the kitchen with holiday cheer by baking your own gingerbread to construct. We like to take this long standing Christmas tradition and add some Green Mountain flare by building log cabin pretzel houses. Think edible Lincoln Logs!
Candy for decorating: some ideas are… M&M’s for a tall stone fireplace, white chocolate covered pretzels as fencing, sprinkles and green frosting as a wreath.
Cut Your Own Christmas Tree
We make it a point to venture out to cut our own tree each year. A fresh tree in the house is something both my husband and I grew up with and it was important we carried on that tradition with our children. Making a day out to do our tree cutting is always so special. The drive is filled with anticipation and Christmas melodies being sung loudly. Once we arrive we take our time scoping out the fields of gorgeous trees to find just the right one to sit in our high ceiling family room. Last year the tree we picked was a 13 footer majestic monster!
We have been to a lot of different tree farms in the general surrounding area but one that has stood out to us is L.H. Stowell & Son. They have been in business since 1925 and when you arrive on their property you can feel the hard work and love that is devoted to the farm. The staff is filled with enthusiastic and kind people that are willing to help with a smile.
Here on this farm you go out to choose a tree and not far behind you will see one of the staff members coming around with a truck and saw. They will cut it down and put it up on the truck for you so there isn’t any dragging involved. This added perk makes it such an easy process, especially when having multiple little ones in tow. It also keeps your tree together and at its best! They initial your stump and bring it over to be wrapped and ready for loading.
There is a wide variety of species of trees to choose from amongst the farm and if you catch it on the right day there will even be some baked goods and warm drinks to add to your experience.
We even included our gorgeous tree from L.H Stowell & Son in the announcement of our third pregnancy!
The Elf Train
This might be hands down one of my all time favorite holiday experiences with our girls. It is a new tradition that we have started with our children and not one that has trickled on from our own childhoods but that doesn’t matter because it is still just as special. We have been going to the Elf Train for almost 7 years now! Our first time was when our youngest was just barely able to walk. The entire experience is filled to the brim with joy and this mama heart feels like it could burst seeing the magic glistening through our girls’ eyes as they see it all unfold.
There are several different train rides throughout the state of Vermont. Some are geared towards an experience like the Polar Express while others are more simple. We found years ago that the Elf Train that the Manchester, VT Lions Club hosts is exactly what fills our cup. It isn’t overly popular, which for us, is nice. Too big of a crowd with tiny babes can be overwhelming and take the fun right out of it.
This train ride has all of the vintage train cab feels packed with decorations, elves, music, goodies and fun! They usually only run for one weekend so you have to be fast in getting tickets. It is interactive and sweet and my girls look forward it it every year!
You will get to see Mr. & Mrs. Claus, sing and dance with elves and sip on hot chocolate all the while taking a beautiful picturesque ride to the North Pole.
Other Classic Christmas Traditions To Consider
Burlap Tree Skirt With Years Of Handprints
This is a new tradition to our family and one I found while browsing the web. It stood out to me because it is so sentimental and it will be a keepsake well into our girls adult years. It is such a simple concept but the meaning behind it is more than words could say.
Take a plain burlap tree skirt and simple circle motions put painted stamps of the families handprints. Make sure to place the date with the handprint. Continue going in a circle motion toward the center over the years and watch the hands grow. In the end you will have a beautiful handmade tree skirt with years wortj of memories.
Homemade Salt Dough Keepsake Ornaments by Crafty Morning
If you are looking for a DIY homemade recipe for salt dough ornaments check out this article! You can change up the pattern to whatever you want, but it is easy and straight forward and will leave you with a recipe to keep in your back pocket for a yearly tradition. Just make sure to add the year onto your ornament.
Surprise Santa Visit
One of my most treasured childhood memories was seeing Rudolph outside my window on Christmas Eve. It was the sign that I should scurry off to bed. As the evening of family gathering calmed down I would hear a bell chiming outside. Of course, I would run to the window to see. I would see a red light in the distance snacking on carrots I had thrown out about the yard earlier in the day. It would wander about and dip down to take a nibble.
And again, the bell. A simple and sweet sound of Christmas bells in the distance. This was a sure sign that I better be off to sleep. Santa had arrived!
To make this magic happen it takes 5 minutes and 4 simple steps.
Go out earlier in the day…or even a few days in advance if you are traveling beforehand and scatter baby carrots in the yard. Make sure that it is far enough way so no big bodies are spotted.
Next, cover a flashlight with red cloth and be equipped with a bell.
Have on adult go outside and put on a slow, magical reindeer eating feast!
Ring that bell along the way but more as you get closer to sound the “get off to bed, Santa is here alarm!”
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Love, light and a little grace…
Olivia Whalen is mama to three young girls who is devoted to creative learning, exploration and free range imagination. Olivia enjoys thinking outside of the box when it comes to preparing homemade baby food or meals for her family. She most enjoys allowing the little minds in her life to flourish and with that you will see her write about creative kid crafts, recipes that fit a family budget and keep everyone asking for more, tips and tricks for a tiny babe, and beginner homesteader fun! Some of her hobbies include gardening, hiking, reading, cooking or just basking in motherhood.