Like your family, we have traditional things we do every holiday season. There’s the particular dip we only eat on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve. Or choosing out a new ornament for the tree. Or lighting candles and reading books from our stack of holiday titles instead of the usual bedtime stories. Or how the kids open new pajamas the night before Christmas.
And then, there are other family holiday traditions that only make an appearance every few years. Sometimes we love attending a Messiah Sing-a-long, or a performance of the Nutcracker. Some years we like to give a 12 Days of Christmas series of gifts to an elderly neighbor. Once in a while we get a craving to cut our own Christmas tree.
We also like to try something new and different each year — thinking of it as a potential new family holiday tradition. This year, we thought for something new, we’d visit the Oakland Zoo lights. Back in our New York days, I remember taking the kids to see the holiday lights at the Bronx Zoo — but it’s been so many years! And we’ve never tried it here. So last Monday night for Family Home Evening, we decided the Zoo lights was the perfect outing.
But I confess, getting everyone there was feeling a bit tricky. Ben Blair and me and the 3 youngest kids were coming from one direction. Olive needed to stay late at school for theater rehearsal and wanted to meet us at the Zoo. Maude didn’t think she could make it, but decided to join us at the last minute. So we solved our transportation issues with Uber. Using our Family Profile, Olive requested an uberX for a multi-destination drive.
First, she was picked up at the high school, then she stopped at our house to drop off her bag and pick up Maude, and then they both met us at the zoo. All with one car and one driver and one fee, and a simple request on the app! Holy moly Uber makes our lives easier, and is a safe, reliable solution on busy nights like this.
Also, with the Family Profile, I can see where the kids’ uberX car is at any point, so we knew exactly when Maude and Olive were arriving at the Zoo and could meet them at the entrance.
It was such a lovely evening. I admit, I am totally soaking up family time right now. As the kids get older, their schedules really fill up, and getting a night together where we just get to walk around and hang out and enjoy each other’s company is heavenly!
The Zoo Lights were fun. It’s an easy, simple outing that felt festive. We enjoyed the walk around the grounds, we were in awe of the sleeping giant turtles, we loved exploring the reptile house, and we had an awesome ride on the new Gondolas too. The Gondolas seat up to 8, which is perfect for us! And they give an amazing overview of the Zoo and really show all those holiday lights to their best advantage.
When we asked June her favorite part, she said it was either the snowflake stamp on her hand that lit up under the black lights, or the kid-size door in the Reptile House. : )
We’re less than a week away from Christmas now, and I feel like many of our holiday season traditions are already done. But we still have Christmas Eve to look forward to, a little bit more shopping, and I’d love to fit in some ice-skating too.
How about you? What are your favorite family holiday traditions? The things you make sure not to miss each holiday season? How often do you try new possible traditions? Have you discovered anything this year that you want to add to the mix? And have your kids grown out of any traditions you used to love? Maybe you’ve said goodbye to Elf on the Shelf? I’d love to hear!
This family holiday traditions post is sponsored by Uber.
Credits: Photos by Kristen Loken for Design Mom.
22 thoughts on “How Often Do You Add New Family Holiday Traditions?”
We’ve done a range of NYC holiday activities – Radio City Music Hall Christmas show, the Nutcracker, the Messiah, the lights at the Bronx Zoo, the tree at Rockefeller Center, the store windows on 5th Avenue – but those are all sporadic. Some we’ve done only once; some we do more often but never every year.
We usually make an effort to drive around and see Christmas lights, although we haven’t this year. (It does get harder as the kids get older.)
We always have a big dinner Christmas Eve, but the menu varies (even though this is an offshoot of the family dinner I had growing up that featured the same menu each year). We also have a big Christmas Day breakfast (my husband’s childhood tradition). You always have to have a glass of orange juice before presents and we always open stockings last.
I love the orange juice detail! So awesome. Last night, I was working with a photographer and we went out for dinner afterwards and we were talking about childhood Christmas traditions. Each family has their own take on things and I love to hear about them.
I’d like to see your holiday dip recipe. We’re looking for something new for Christmas Eve!
Hah! I wish it was something fancy that was worth sharing. Instead, it’s a funny little recipe from my childhood. But for a more elegant option, I LOVE the feta-walnut dip from the Moosewood Cookbook — and this adaptation. I’ve been making it for 20 years now and it’s always a hit!
What a fun venue for a light display! I love reading about family-specific holiday traditions. Among our annual ones are a nightly walk at a similar local light display, an amazing Santa Train ride (with grandma), and my daughter’s favourite – a chocolate fondue New Year’s morning!
We just took a ride on a Santa Train in Mendocino (the Skunk Train) over the weekend — our first one ever. So charming! They served each person hot cocoa and a cookie as we boarded the train.
Enjoyed reading Caryn’s post. So proud to be her mom, living in the suberb, yet loving the times I visit her adorable apartment. From the mid-west, I love each day when we share a walk in the city through her eyes with a camera!
We use Uber often to help us get those bigger but not driving kids to activities when we can’t split ourselves in half. It has been an awesome solution to a very big problem and never at any time have our kids felt unsafe.
Same! It’s a really helpful tool as we keep our full schedules afloat.
This just feels so forced. Love your blog but I would appreciate it if you indicated in the title of your blog post if it was an ad. That way, I won’t feel so conned when I click through and find this.
It’s literally the first thing on the page after you click the link – this post is sponsored by Uber. You aren’t investing all that much time to scan through the first two lines and then jump ship if you really find it that offensive.
Definitely not trying to con you, Kelly. Quite the opposite. On sponsored posts, I always state the sponsorship clearly as the first line of text. I’ve done it this way for almost a decade now. I want readers to be sure to know it’s sponsored so they can skip it if they aren’t in the mood — and it’s an FTC legal requirement as well. It sounds like you maybe missed that first line this time around?
I see it in the first line. Thank you for always putting it in. But it doesn’t show up in my blog reader as a sponsored post, so I would generally click through to read the article. If it was in the title I would not click on it in the first place. You don’t deserve to make a living from sponsors. Your posts are so contrived, as (in my opinion) this post is, it just feels icky to me. And I would rather not participate in that.
I don’t deserve to make a living from sponsors? Okay. Not sure what to tell you, Kelly. In the future, if you click on the post and you read that sponsored notice, perhaps you’ll just click away before reading the article, so you won’t have to experience anything “icky.” So sorry to have required you to participate in reading such a horrible post. Wishing you a lovely holiday.
As a loooongtime Design Mom reader, I think you do a great job with sponsored posts. It’s clear you put a lot of effort and time into them to make them feel authentically you instead of just a short shoutout to the sponsor. I think it can be easy to forget that you have to learn a living like everyone else, and while Design Mom feels like a chat with a friend (and it truly does!), it is also your work, and you need to earn money like everyone else!
Great post but, I don’t know if Uber is the sort of company you’ll want to include as a sponsor. There is a lot of documented evidence of Uber’s unethical and discriminatory business practices, the biggest news probably being the giant information hacked they intentionally hid from consumers and drivers.
Thanks for the link, Heather. I’ve worked with Uber a few times over the course of this year and we’ve had some great discussions here on what the company could and should do to be better. I have high hopes for the new CEO. It’s a service that has become essential for so many people across the socio-economic scale, and I’m rooting for the company to continue trying to make things right.
My kids are still young (8 & 7) and so our Christmas traditions are still developing. I hope to instill some now that will continue once they grow out of the young ones. We have Elf on the Shelf who brings them a decoration, a Christmas book and new Christmas PJs each year. They also give an activity each day (write Christmas cards, sing carols, buy gifts, see lights…). Once the elves retire, I hope these practices will continue.
Also, is it a “thing” that zoos do Christmas lights in the USA? We are in Australia and I’ve not heard of it here but it seems delightful! Considering we have such glorious summer nights at Christmas to wander outside, this would be a lovely evening.
The photos in this post were really magical.
We have a few traditions – an advent calendar, sausage and lasagna on Christmas eve, Philly sticky buns (from my great grandmother’s recipe) and bacon on Christmas morning. Since I mainly cook vegetarian, the meat feels like a special treat for everyone. Since we often travel to see family in the Caribbean right after Christmas, we will gift items that will be used on the trip, like sunglasses, activity books for the plane, or homemade shorts in cheery prints.
One of my favorite traditions is something my dad used to do with the kids and now we do in our family – my husband takes the big kids Christmas shopping for each other. They plan for it and talk about it weeks in advance, and they come back excited, rustling their bags, whispering, and bursting with secrets.
I always love reading about how your family celebrates life! As a mom with much younger kids, it is fun to read about what I can look forward to with older kids. Thanks for the lovely content!
Our family tradition is cutting and block printing our Christmas cards. It is quite the project, we are up to 150 cards. I love the boys pulling the press and have been known the goto Christmas eve mass with inky fingernails.
We’ve been doing Christmas brunch with childhood friends (the entire family- 3 sisters, their families and parents). Certain dishes have been part of the brunch for decades and every few years I add something new. We “borrowed” grapefruit shots from The Henry, a grand hotel in Dearborn, Michigan. It’s simply a single peeled grapefruit segment (I use the ones from Costco), in a shot glass of orange juice. I have them on a silver tray when guests arrive and young and old can have a shot and enjoy! The kids feel so grown up and special and they’re delicious.