A reader recently asked me the most flattering but also decently intimidating question… what can she do to make her babe’s first Christmas as special as I’m going to make Henry’s? 1. Wow – thank you! But 2.
The pressure is on.
I just love Christmas. Of course I want my family and my kiddies to love Christmas. My mom always made it really special and I want to do the same for my family. When I look back at my own childhood, there are some things I will always remember about the holidays:
- family gatherings. Always always. We would see both my mom’s and dad’s sides at every holiday because everyone lived in the Chicagoland area. So far Dan and I are doing the same thing. I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a loud voice in my head saying “just split up the holidays taking turns – Thanksgiving with one side, Christmas with the other, switch off every year. That way we can just hunker down, relax for a few days instead of the going going.” BUT Dan points out they literally live 20 minutes apart. And it’s so easy to see both minus the inconvenience of packing up and relocating from house to house with two dogs and one babe and all the stuff that comes with them – and he’s right. So for now we’re still seeing both sides every holiday and it’s worked out great – albeit it a bit busy. And it’s really lovely and special. You only get so many Christmases in life. Best to spend with those you love.
- Christmas mornings at home followed by church… we’d wake up, queue the Christmas music, open presents (each taking turns to open one at a time), then have a delicious breakfast. Then we’d scurry to get all dressed up for church. In recent years Christmas has become SUPER casual. Part of me misses the dressing up, but most of me LOVES the cozy comfort style, slippers included, we now all abide by.
- speaking of music – Nat King Cole’s Christmas album will forever make me feel completely nostalgic and happy and remind me of my childhood. It was one of the 5 CDs in our 5-CD player that would play on loop all December along with Amy Grant’s and a few other gems.
- singing Christmas carols and Santa (ie a neighbor dressed up) visiting my Nana’s every Christmas Eve to hand out presents
- the Christmas cookies – my mom bakes cookies that have been designated Christmas cookies not because of how they look but because they are ONLY baked this time of year. I actually plan on sharing the recipes on the blog right after Thanksgiving! They are delish.
- making Pierogis – I’ve only helped do this a couple times but holy delicious. Now I really want to learn!
- Christopher Radko ornaments. We received a few as children… it was a gift we knew was coming, none of us were particularly excited about, but now – I am SO grateful we got these beautiful gems that now hang on our tree.
- Christmas cards. It was a running joke in our family I’d cry every year during Christmas card pictures for one reason or another… lol so while I 100% want to continue this tradition, I hope to eliminate any stress of trying to create some perfect looking, styled shot and instead just use a picture that best represents the fam that year. Or maybe we’ll just be in pajamas for it every year. TBD!
Dan and I have chatted a bit about things we want to do for this first Christmas as a family of three – and because Henry is only 6 months old, not much is changing. He’s so excited to go sledding with him so we’ll be doing the first good snow we get!
Otherwise I plan on getting him a few special items he’ll have forever. Here are a few memento gift ideas for baby’s first Christmas…
1. Holiday jammies
I know a few people who get their kids (and grandkids) matching pj’s every Christmas and I just LOVE this tradition. Is there anything better than cozy – and better yet, personalized – jammies?! So I’d love to start this tradition for our fam, as well.
I just picked up this set of monogrammed Christmas jammies that say “my first Christmas” on the butt. I added his name to the front too to make it extra special. I just really wish they were zip-ups and not snaps!
I was also looking at some holiday styles from Burt’s Bees that are very reasonably priced – but all of the reviews say the sizing is weird and fit tight in the limbs. Henry has some chunky thighs so I’m a bit worried they won’t fit. Anyone know?
2. Hang our stockings by the chimney with care
My siblings and I grew up with matching monogrammed needlepoint stockings (they are currently 30% which is HUGE because they’re a bit of an investment), and I still use mine, so I got Dan one a couple of years ago, and my mom bought Henry his own last Christmas when I was pregnant. We had it hanging and I used it for the birth announcement but blocked out the name. I’m so excited to hang it and fill it with little treats this year!
Land’s End has a much more budget-friendly needlepoint stocking that is really nice quality in person! Just slightly smaller than the SFERRA ones.
As for stocking holders, a few of my favorites that are sold individually… we have these in brass. (I may or may not have bought a 4th last year in case they eventually discontinued the style. Shhh.)
3. Start an ornament collection – silhouette ornament
I always knew I wanted to start my kids’ ornament collections right away so they’d have a beautiful, memorable set to take with them when they move out. First up is getting Henry’s silhouette in brass from Le Papier Studio. We got a silhouette of Dan and me on our honeymoon that I’ll cherish forever. These are the most special mementos. You can do an entire family’s silhouette! Up to 8 people! I’m just going with the single silhouette in gold that will say “Henry’s First Christmas 2018.” These also make great gifts for grandparents!
LOOK AT THAT SOFT DOUBLE CHIN ERMERGERD I WANT TO REMEMBER IT ALWAYS! So perfect.
4. Start an Ornament Collection – Christopher Radko
My mom and my Everygirl employee Ally both got Henry SUPER special mementos: Christopher Radko ornaments. I received a few of these as gifts growing up and I absolutely love having them on our tree now.
We have Baby’s First Christmas and another one that isn’t currently available online that has his name on it!
5. Christmas Music and Baby Books
He’s obviously too young to watch our favorite Christmas movies – but truth be told, we started listening to Christmas music in the morning in November… it’s just such a peaceful, quiet way to start the day.
But he isn’t too young for books! We already had Twas the Night Before Christmas, his great aunts recently gave him Llama Llama Jingle Bells and we love it! I think I might get this great personalized Christmas book also! Also adding Pick a Pine Tree to the cart!
When he’s older we’ll of course start How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and A Christmas Carol, and the Polar Express and read them every year.
6. Festive Bedding and Room Decor
I spent a few years of my childhood asking my mom if I could have a mini Christmas tree with colorful lights in my bedroom… she obliged and that plus the faux candes in the windows – it was my favorite time of year to go to bed. The room glowed and it felt like I was in my own little Christmas movie.
Obviously Henry doesn’t need nightlights yet – they’d just keep him awake and excited, so for now I’ll add a festive crib sheet to his bed but in years to come I’m all for bringing the festive decor into kids’ rooms. And my own! If you want a more simple but festive look, this tiny polka dot crib sheet in red would do the trick!
Traditions We Plan on Starting Once He’s Older
Once Henry (and any siblings) are a bit older, we’d love to start more traditions together as a family…
Decorating the Christmas tree(s) & the tree debate
Real or fake? To cut own or pick up at the local stop?
All things we’ve discussed. I shared this stunning faux flocked tree from Grand in Road in stories. If I were to go faux, it’d have to be extra special.
I had two Christmas trees for the first time last year and loved it – and we’re going to have two again because we spend most of our time in the back family room, but there’s not enough room for a large, real tree in there. So we’ll have a real tree in the front room with our traditional, glass ornaments. And we’ll do a more fun tree in the family room with our smaller scale faux-pre-lit option.
Dan and I keep debating whether we should start the tradition of cutting down a tree, Griswald style. I’m not going to lie – it sounds like a lot of work. And something Henry wouldn’t even know was happening until next year, and remember until the year or two after that (or later!). But it does seem like a special tradition and I’ve heard the trees last much longer when they’re cut freshly. Anyone do this? Any recommendations?
I’d really like to start volunteering as a family together at the holidays and teaching them the importance of giving back and helping those in need.
Fewer Toys, More Meaningful Gifts
I love the idea of keeping toy presents to a select, few special items. I see it and hear from other parents time and time again – no more toys. The kids get so bored so quickly and it all just piles up and sits. I’d really love to encourage experience type gifts or items that promote activity, creativity, and learning. My siblings always asked for puzzles, legos, crafting and building sets and I just love those. They’re the gifts that keep on giving. I also know things like sports and music lessons add up so those too will become part of Christmas gifts from grandparents and us.
Learning Family Recipes
Both sides of our family have recipes that are cooked for every holiday, desserts and otherwise. I really want Henry to take part in the process, make it a fun activity we do together, and carry on those traditions. Again – this won’t be for a while. Although right now he does love watching us in the kitchen!
I really want the kids to help in creating and choosing thoughtful gifts for the special people in their lives. So often all of the gift purchasing falls on the mom which I think is a bit bogus and takes away from the meaning behind giving presents.
So that’s just some ideas. Who knows what we’ll end up actually doing but these are some ideas I have! Hope they spark some creativity for you all!