My Favorite Holiday Traditions

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As soon as all of the Junior Mints are consumed and my go-to monarch butterfly costume wings are stashed safely back into the closet my mind is finally free to turn, guilt-free, towards the winter holidays. Below I’ve shared my top ten favorite annual traditions that I look forward to all year long:

10. Making Aunt Kara’s Ambrosia
I inherited Aunt Kara’s Thanksgiving Ambrosia duty when CK and I began dating five years ago. This sweet concoction of pineapple, mandarin oranges and coconut always rings in the start of the holidays for us and CK proudly totes the colorful side dish into the enormous Kelly Family party each year. Recently we’ve begun making homemade marshmallows to use in the dish as opposed to store-bought and I think it’s really helped to make this dish our own.

9. Holiday Cards
I obsess over choosing my holiday cards each year. It’s a very big deal to me and I always find myself standing in the card aisle at various stores picking up boxes and putting them back forever before I finally decide on the perfect one. When I finally make my selection I then have to cross my fingers that they’ll have the amount of cards I need. Then I have to actually address and mail them. My yearly goal is to have them mailed so that they arrive as close to December 1st as possible. I always want my card to be the first one you receive.

8. Wrapping Paper
After I’ve obsessed over the holiday cards, I then stand in front of the paper and ribbon aisle pawing through tubes of gift wrap and yards of trim looking for the perfect paper to wrap my family’s gifts in. Some years I’m more ambitious than others.

7. “Christmas” Wish List on the TiVo
One of my favorite things to do during the holidays is watch every absurd, obscure, and ridiculous holiday themed television episode and made-for-tv movie that comes on. So I create a TiVo wish list that uses “Christmas” as a keyword. That way I’m sure to not miss the opportunity to see the great 90210 episode where Brenda brings home Santa or any of the Brady Bunch specials that involve the kids being all grown up.

6. Annual Ornament
Each year I like to purchase an ornament to add to our collection that reminds us of an event, trip, or other special memory that occurred in the last twelve months. One year it was a Bainbridge Island Ferry decked with holly after we took a trip to Seattle, and the year I started writing ErinCooks.com CK bought me a cute kitchen-themed ornament. It’s always exciting uncovering each item, reminiscing, and then hanging them on the tree.

5. Christmas Cookies
I was the type of kid who made Christmas cookies in July. Thankfully my mother always let me do it but she still complains to the day about the unbelievable messes I would make in the kitchen. I’m a little tidier these days but I still have many fond memories of making simple sugar cookies dusted with red and green sprinkles to set out for Santa at my Grandmother’s house.

4. Chinese Food on Christmas Eve
CK and I started doing this when we moved in together. It’s a great way to spend a cozy evening. We eat greasy pork fried rice, fight over the last egg roll, and curl up on the couch to watch a holiday movie of my choice. Unfortunately, last year I picked The Christmas Cottage (because adorable Jared Padalecki was in it) and it was painfully bad. Do yourself a favor and skip that one.

3. Christmas Crackers
I’m an enormous anglophile. Each year I try to get CK to take me to London for Christmas. It hasn’t happened yet but I have a lot of experience getting my own way so I know at some point I’ll be carousing in Notting Hill on December 24th. But since I’m still waiting for London to come to me I try to bring a bit of British tradition to New England. This means if you happen to be invited to a holiday shindig at my home I give everyone Christmas Crackers to break and then I demand that you wear your enclosed brightly colored paper crown with pride.

2. Reading The Polar Express
If I happen to be at my mom’s house on Christmas Eve we always sit in the living room as a group. Someone holds up Chris Van Allsberg’s The Polar Express book so we can all see the pages and then we listen to the tape (yes as in cassette) that features William Hurt reading the story. It really brings out my inner eight-year-old.

1. Eggnog Pancakes
Eggnog in general is a huge deal for me during the holidays. I actually just saw the first carton in “the wild” this weekend. Every year I eagerly await eggnog lattes from Starbucks, eggnog cookies, and the eggnog milkshake at McDonald’s. I know many people are disgusted by eggnog, but not me. I think it’s quintessentially Christmas and eggnog pancakes are my go-to breakfast on Christmas mornings.

What are some of your holiday traditions? Are into It’s a Wonderful Life? Do you roast chestnuts by an open fire? Are you glued to all things Santa or do you like to laugh at your relatives who willing wear reindeer imprinted clothing? Let me know! I promise not to pass judgment on whether your activities are naughty or nice.

By the way, if you’re feeling a little nostalgic now and missing home, perhaps you’d like to try your hand at entering Folgers® Coffee Home for the Holidays contest. In 200 words or fewer, create an original essay answering the question, “What is the best part of wakin’ up at home for the holidays with Folgers® Coffee?” Folgers will award five contest winners, plus up to three family members or friends, travel to and from their destination. This content closes on November 30, 2010 at Noon.

You can read about other blogger’s unique holiday traditions and memories by visiting this page.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 The Hungry Crafter November 3, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Have you tried soy nog? I just love the stuff! In fact, I don’t usually drink any form of soy milk, but I go out of my way for the soy nog. So good. Must start hunting for some… 🙂

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2 cheryl November 4, 2010 at 9:11 am

I saw the Soy Nog at Super Target and Whole Foods they also have a mint chocolate one and a Pumpkin spice.

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3 Anna November 3, 2010 at 2:08 pm

I saw eggnog at the store on Monday and thought of you. If my hands weren’t full, I’d have texted you a picture!

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4 emma November 3, 2010 at 2:22 pm

eggnog from crescent ridge dairy is THE BEST. wf usually has crescent ridge stuff, or you can tell me you want some and i’ll add it to my milk delivery!

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5 Erin November 3, 2010 at 2:26 pm

Anna & Emma – Freaky! Crescent ridge just sent a Facebook update about their Eggnog being in stores now. Wonder Twins activate?!

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6 SusieO November 3, 2010 at 2:40 pm

I LOVE LOVE holiday festivus (Christmakkah anyone?) and I always look forward to the Starbucks red cups 🙂 wrapping paper and cards, and, with my kids, opening the avent calendar for our daily chocolates for the 24 days leading up to Christmas. My most guilty pleasure tho is Holiday Music. I cannot even tell you how much I have on my iPod…but it’s in the 100s…I still keep checking 103.3fm to see when they make the switch to all holiday music!

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7 A Plum By Any Other Name November 3, 2010 at 5:23 pm

What a lovely list of holiday fun! I must say your eggnog pancake recipe really peaked my attention. Eggnog in any fashion is one of my top 10 holiday favorites. As is the Beacon Hill Holiday Stroll and buying a christmas tree for my tiny studio apartment then decorating it listening to a Charlie Brown Christmas.

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8 Hanni November 4, 2010 at 8:18 am

I start listening to Christmas music in October. And I kind of love it when my kid sister (who is now 25!) wakes me up at 5:30 AM every Christmas morning to tell me it’s time to open stockings. That’s another thing I love–stockings! I scheme for weeks, trying to figure out what super fun things I can stuff in AHP’s sock … pizza-shaped soaps, hot wheels, burrito gift certificates, Schwarzenegger DVDs, it’s all fair game.

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9 Rachel November 4, 2010 at 8:33 am

My family is English, so tradition for me is making a homemade christmas cake. I won’t ever eat it cooked (the batter is yummy), but it makes the house smell like christmas and it feels like the holidays have begun.

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10 Christina November 4, 2010 at 9:55 am

While the calendar says November 4th, it might as well be December 4th :). I love love LOVE the Christmas season. Great line up of holiday traditions – those eggnog pancakes will absolutely be part of my December this year!

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11 Courtney November 4, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Such a great list! My favorite XMas tradition is making cookies- we always make hundreds of them to give away as gifts 😀

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12 Michelle November 4, 2010 at 1:59 pm

LOVE this list and everyone’s comments! I’m definitely all about the music, the cards, and the cookies.

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13 Chez Us November 13, 2010 at 1:27 am

You came up with 10 great traditions! I have always wanted to do Christmas crackers, this may be the year to start a new tradition.

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14 Quanda November 13, 2010 at 11:30 pm

My family and I gathered at my parents home with my siblings and their families, on Christmas Day, to exchange & open gifts, fellowship and sing carols together.

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15 Barbara Noureldin November 19, 2010 at 10:51 pm

We always have a tradition of Christmas shopping the day after Thanksgivng. On Christmas morning we always open our presents one at a time to appreciate each gift . While opening we have made some yummy brunch type foods with wonderful bubbly Champagne. A nap is in order for the afternoon.

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16 Maureen November 22, 2010 at 1:23 pm

My husband and I love eggnog. We found it at the local grocery store this weekend and I immediately made three loaves of eggnog bread. He can’t wait for me to make the eggnog cheesecake bars and then he loves eggnog waffles.

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