My Christmas Traditions

Although I tend to sneak some Christmas music in beforehand, my family and I try to keep the Christmas celebration off until after Thanksgiving. For me, it all starts on Black Friday, when instead of running around the mall, my dad and I get a good night's sleep and put up all of our outdoor Christmas decorations.

Part of our outdoor holiday display.Allie Slagter

He tends to handle the string lights on our trees while I help set up some of the other items; my personal favorite being our tinsel moose.

Tinsel Moose!Allie Slagter

After that, there isn't much more that happens until winter break. When I was still in school at home my dad and I would spend every drive to and from school listening to the local Christmas music station. Since I went to the private school where my dad worked we had about an hour drive each way so I definitely listened to my fair share of Christmas carols. (Also, I may or not be listening to my Christmas playlist while writing this…)

Once I'm officially on winter break it's full go Christmas mode until the 25th.

Our Christmas tree in 2016 (aka we've only gotten more ornaments). Allie Slagter

This includes putting ornaments on our tree while watching Christmas movies whenever I have the time. Every year in our stockings my brother and I get a Christmas ornament, so after 24 and 19 Christmases respectively the ornaments have started to add up. Not to mention all the ones we tend to buy at the post-Christmas sales, the really cool ones we see when shopping for Christmas, the ones I order for people for gifts, and all the one my parent's had before us. Basically, if I were to count all of them, I wouldn't be surprised if we put at least 200 ornaments on the tree each year.

Grinch cookies on the left and sugar cookies on the right.Allie Slagter

When I'm not busy decorating the tree my dad and I spend a lot of time in the kitchen making different kinds of cookies and desserts.

Chocolate cake pops I made for school senior year. Allie Slagter

Over the years we made just about everything; some highlights include a Santa cake, Grinch cookies, oatmeal cranberry cookies (which I don't really eat, but I've heard are fantastic) and of course the ever classic chocolate chip.

Cutout and decorated brownies instead of cookies. Since no one in my family is a huge sugar cookie fan, when I saw this on Pinterest I knew we had to try it. Allie Slagter

I love baking in general and it's nice that my dad and I can spend time together, but it also a bonus that Freeform and The Hallmark Channel constantly have Christmas movies on to play in the background.

Once everything has been baked and the house is fully decorated it truly feels like it's Christmas time.

By that point, the only thing I have left to do is wrap my gifts. My mom is an AMAZING gift wrapper. I used to get really upset because my creases were never as tight and sharp as hers, but every year I get a little better…but it does take me a couple hours to wrap maybe six boxes. Not to mention I also carefully plan out each wrapping paper, bow, ribbon and gift tag combination.

The gifts I wrapped last year. I took a lot of pictures…and told everyone to appreciate the wrapping before tearing in. Allie Slagter

Once the stockings are hung and the gifts have been placed under the tree it's officially time for Christmas.

Come, Christmas Eve, we have a pretty normal and relaxing day until it's time to get ready for church. Once we're all dressed in our fancy outfits we drive up to my grandparent's church for the evening service.

After church, it's time for our traditional Christmas Eve dinner: PIZZA!

I'm not sure how this tradition started by I don't remember a Christmas Eve without it. As someone who isn't that big of a fan of pizza, this is the one night a year I will without a doubt gladly eat pizza.

After pizza and some Christmas cookies for dessert, it's time for our annual family pictures. Every year without fail we all gather in my grandparent's living room and take a variety of family pictures. We all find a spot on or near their floral couch and keep swapping people out until we have all the combinations.

My brother and I last year; it really captures our relationship. Allie Slagter

After that, it's time to pack up and get home in time to go to bed before the big day. The drive home is filled with Christmas songs, of course on the radio station that provides updates on Santa's locations, and visits to different Christmas light displays.

Once we get home, I tend to change into my pajamas; the same pajamas I will wear for the entirety of tomorrow.

When I was little it was pretty much jammies on and then off to bed so Santa could come, but now I tend to stay up for a little bit…and then Santa can come, right? Every year on Christmas Eve my dad would watch his VHS tape of It's a Wonderful Life, his all-time favorite Christmas movie until the machine stopped working. So one year we surprised him with an early Christmas gift of the movie on DVD and ever since that year I've stayed up and watched it with him. (The funny thing is that year while we were Christmas shopping at Best Buy I had to keep dragging him away from the Christmas movie section until it was super obvious what we had planned.)

Then it's finally time to go to sleep to rest up for the excitement of Christmas morning.

Once we have all awoken on Christmas morning it's time to go downstairs to check if Santa came and grab our stockings. We would always go back upstairs with our stocking to inform my mom that Santa came. After we opened our stocking, which will 100% contain an ornament, socks for me and underwear for my brother, we would all slooooooooooowly (@ mom and dad) make our way downstairs to the tree. Then commence the present opening…and the nervous anticipation as I watched everyone's reactions to the gifts I got them.

Me in my natural element…and what happens when my brother takes the camera and says he needs to get all the angles. Allie Slagter

Once everything has calmed down a bit we just wait until my grandparents come and we can eat breakfast which consists of my mom's apricot coffee cake she makes once a year and my dad's breakfast casserole. Then it's on to showing Nanu and Pop-pop all our gifts and then more presents for everyone!

After that, it's pretty much a relaxing day playing with all the new things until it's time for a big dinner later in the day. There's also a mix of Christmas naps in there and probably a Christmas movie too. It's a pretty simple day, but everything about it is perfect to me and probably why I absolutely love Christmas so much. But that's all there is to it, after that it's preparation for my birthday on the 27th.

Merry Christmas everyone!Allie Slagter

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