Well, when I was a kid we always used to cut down a fresh tree on the weekend after Thanksgiving. My husband's family used the same artificial tree every year and it became sort of like a tradition of its own to use that tree for Christmas. So, as much as I fought for the evergreen smell every year, we decided to go with an artifical tree and it's been a really fun experience using the same tree and having the kids help put it together. We put up our tree Thanksgiving weekend - this year we actually did it on Monday (before Thanksgiving) but we just felt like getting into the spirit a bit early. Now that we have toddlers, I sit on the floor and sort the limbs into piles according to the level they're assigned to and then hand them to the kids who carry them across the living room one at a time to Brent who puts the tree together. Then, we put the lights and ornaments on, cover it in tinsel and top it with the star (Alina and Daddy put that on together).
One of our traditions is to buy a new ornament for each family member every year. This is really neat because every ornament on our tree will eventually mean something significant. Right now we have a fair amount of specific ornaments and a decent amount of plain decorative balls as well - but we're only on year 5 so we've got a while to get some more.
Last year, I bought this one for Brent. He loves this musical and the whole story. I liked this ornament because the couple actually twirl and dance to the Beauty and the Beast song when you wind the thingy.
This is the shape and color of the ornament Brent had made for me last year. My big Christmas present was Orchestra Seat Tickets to see Wicked on Broadway on our anniversary trip (March), so he had the word "Wicked" painted on it and picked out the most adorable little polka dot ribbon to hang it by. I love this ornament!
Wow. Can you tell we like musicals? LOL! It's not like that every year - we've done all sorts of ornaments. It's one of my fav traditions!
Another tradition is our current rule to give 10 presents to each member of the family - no more, no less. While we only apply this rule to ourselves (IE we give 10 presents to each child but the kids only give one to everyone else) it's been really nice and alot of fun. This tradition sprung from our desire to have a "big Christmas" all the time. We both grew up in families that didn't always have alot of money for Christmas, and both know how it is to get a few small things for Christmas and want to avoid having that as a memory for our kids. So, while the budget for total Christmas spending may fluxuate (the first year was $250 a piece when it was just Brent and I, and this year it's $150 to spend on Brent, $150 to spend on me, and $50 per kid) the tradition is that we have to make that budget stretch over 10 presents. We also require that at least 1 present is handmade and not purchased.
While alot of other traditions vary with divorces, which family can travel when, etc, we maintain 3 others;
1) Each family member opens one present on Christmas Eve night (this helps build the excitment for the following day! After this we watch It's a Wonderful Life
2) We spend Christmas Morning as a family - just us four (plus any more that we have) and no extended family. No aunts, uncles, siblings, parents, nothing. We want to spend Christmas with our kids and let that be that.
3) We spend New Years Eve & Day with Brent's grandparents - we have one big Christmas party with all his extended family every single year. This is alot of fun and it's been a tradition forever and I love going!