In my family, there are a lot of traditions that we have done around Christmas time since I was little. These are my favorites.
The Holiday Festival of Lights
Each year in James Island, South Carolina, the county park hosts the Holiday Festival of Lights. It's timeless fun for all ages. There are sections of light shows that you can drive through, sections you can walk through, and sections that you can take the train through (and buy glasses that change the colors and shapes of the lights. Yes, I am a child still. I love these). You can take pictures with Santa, purchase custom Christmas ornaments, visit the sand sculpture competition, watch the dancing trees, take on the climbing wall, see the giant greeting cards, roast marshmallows, watch different local groups perform, and interact with lights displays - the fun options are endless.
Making Reindeer Food
Growing up, my sister and I would make food for Santa's reindeer and sprinkle it in the front yard. It literally just consisted of dry oatmeal and glitter (so Santa would see our house from his sleigh, duh).
The big Christmas lights reveal
Each year, my dad spends countless hours decorating our house with lights and wreaths and other decorations. Once he is done decorating, my mom, sister, and I stand across the street while my dad plugs in the lights for the first time and gives us a big, bright reveal. He's a very good decorator, too. Thanks, Dad.
Christmas Eve dinner
Growing up, my grandparents always wanted us to go out to dinner as a family before Christmas Eve church service. Naturally, the only place open was a Chinese restaurant...so it became our regular spot for Christmas Eve dinner.
Midnight Christmas Eve service
Every year on Christmas Eve, my family attends our church's midnight service. As the service comes to a close, right at 12, they dim the lights and we all light candles and sing Joy to the World in the dark sanctuary. It's a very beautiful and festive sight.
Reading 'Twas The Night Before Christmas
Every Christmas Eve, after the midnight service, my dad sits us all in front of the Christmas tree and reads us 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. This is hands down my favorite family tradition.
Decorating the baby tree
In our house, my mom has one big fancy tree that she gets to decorate with the pretty, presentable ornaments and decorations from the store. Then, on the other side of the house, my little sister and I get to decorate a tiny tree with all of the crazy, handmade ornaments that we have collected over the years. We've practically completely weighed the tree down by now.
Every night before Christmas, my parents barricade the end of the hallway leading to the living room with all of the chairs from our dining room. My sister and I STILL aren't allowed to go out in the living room without my parents first. We love to go in their bedroom and wake them up early like we're still 4 and 8 (I'm sure they appreciate that very much). Then, they go out into the living room and get their video cameras ready and let my sister and I come out for a big Christmas morning reveal. The presents never disappoint, either.
My other very favorite Christmas tradition...in our family, no one is allowed to leave the house or wear anything but pajamas. If you're spending the holiday with us, you better show up in your PJs (not kidding, my aunt spent Christmas with us a few years ago and my mom told her she wouldn't be able to come in if she wasn't in her pajamas). It's the laziest (and best) Merrithew holiday ever.
Christmas is the best holiday season of the whole year...you can't change my mind. I'm counting down the days!