Making Merry This Holiday Season with Family Traditions

Make Christmas Special with Traditions, Christmas Decorating Inspiration, Christmas Recipes, Start Your Own Family Holiday Traditions

Why are traditions so important? They knit a family together providing constants in a world of change. Family traditions offer reliability in a world of unknowns. They tell our children this is who we are, and this is what is important. Traditions bridge generations, link us to our past, and pave a solid road toward the future. What are yours? From special Christmas trees, family get-togethers, baking and gift giving we hope you’ll enjoy learning about our special traditions. Maybe we will inspire you to start a new tradition or two.

Christmas festive farmhouse-inspired dining room tablescape decor

Better Homes & Gardens at Walmart

Jodie and I are honored to be part of The Better Homes & Gardens at Walmart Influencer Network. We love representing a brand that provides quality style at affordable prices. We receive compensation for our time and efforts while creating this post. Our convenient shopping links help support our blog but add no additional expense for you. All opinions are authentically ours, and as always, we hope you enjoy. You can learn more about creative holiday decorating ideas from the BHG Live Better Influencer Network.

Christmas dining room festive holiday traditions red and green

This affordable, quality holiday dish set is a dream. This beautiful Better Homes & Gardens Heritage Collection Holiday 16-piece set available exclusively at Walmart is an incredible value. Click on the photo below to see more details and to purchase.

Quiet Moments Make the Best Traditions

Sometimes the quiet moments are the best moments. We’ve always had the tradition of reading Christmas classics with the boys. When they were young, we read to them. Now they read on their own. We evolve as the children age, but the traditions remain. It’s wonderful to see the boys’ motivation to keep the traditions alive. It shows us how much they value them. Three of their all-time favorites are The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas, and of course, Elf on The Shelf.

Christmas family fun reading traditions elf on the shelf

family fun Christmas traditions kids elf on the shelf

Elf on the Shelf

My boys adore the interactive fun of hiding and searching for the Elf. When they were younger, I’d do the hiding and they’d do the seeking. Now they are master hiders, so my husband and I do our best to find him. So, in honor of this delightful family tradition we want to play the game with you. Look through the photos in this post carefully. Somewhere we have carefully hidden the Elf. Comment below if you can find him!

Click on the pillows below to purchase.

Elf on the shelf family traditions kids Christmas

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traditional holiday Christmas decor tree pillows

Everyone in the family fights over this new buffalo plaid Sherpa throw perfect for the entire winter season. It’s oversized and incredibly cozy, not to mention too darling for words. Another irresistible value from Better Homes & Gardens collection from Walmart.

farmhouse inspired Christmas decor festive buffalo check trees

Holiday decorating is so much fun. I love my new farmhouse-inspired rustic wood and metal lanterns from Better Homes & Gardens collection available only at Walmart. I just added some festive ribbon and candles to complete this holiday vignette. Once again, I’m so impressed with the quality and value of these products. Click on photo below to shop.

Family Wide Traditions

As a decorator, it can be hard to let go and allow the kids to help. That’s why I’m particularly proud of the tradition we uphold in our family. Every year we let my boys, Roan and Reese, choose their own live Christmas tree. My discipline to hold back advice or direction begins here, my friends. They get to choose which tree we end up with. I consider it an exercise in self-control, which is greatly rewarded by their joy.

Decorating the Tree

The tradition continues as we allow them to decorate the tree however they choose. When they were little, we had a bag of shatter-proof ornaments specifically for them. Now, they can pick and choose any ornaments they want. With this freedom of expression, each year they seem to get more and more creative. The tree is not hidden away in their bedrooms but showcased in the entryway of our home. I treasure seeing their pride as they show off their tree to all who enter. It has become one of their favorite Christmas traditions.

Advent Calendar Tradition

When the boys were little, I bought a cute little wooden advent calendar and placed it in the center hallway. Every morning during the Christmas season, I would wake the boys up with the reminder that they had another door on the calendar to open. This realization would jolt them out of bed and start the day in a flurry of excitement and chocolate. Breaking the “mom rule” of no sweets for breakfast was a small price to pay for the joy on their faces.

diy holiday traditions Christmas advent calendar diy

Last year, I made a new advent calendar and the boys just loved it. Read our advent calendar blog post for more details on this holiday tradition. My older son Roan asked if he could help fill it. He had so much fun being in charge of selecting the chocolates, making it even more special for him and his brother. It’s fun to see how my kids personalize the traditions as they grow and mature. And it’s fun to see that even as they get into middle school, they aren’t too old for the traditions they enjoyed as toddlers.

Family All Together Makes Christmas Special

We are fortunate to live close to lots of family. Since my husband Bill grew up in the San Francisco Bay area, we have lots of family in the surrounding suburbs. Everyone gets together for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and the Fourth. This group is 45-55 strong. We swap houses and take turns hosting parties and all pitch in to make it work. Everyone brings delicious food and does their part. This tradition has kept the family connected over the years.

Christmas table salt and pepper festive table setting

Festive Holiday Table Setting

Is this not the cutest salt and pepper shaker set you’ve ever seen? Crazy cute. They are already a family favorite, and I know they’ll be treasured year after year. On top of the cuteness overload, can you believe the price? We recommend this cute set as the perfect gift for anyone on your holiday shopping list. You can buy yours right here by clicking on the photo below.

elegant creative festive table details holiday Christmas party

Christmas Dinner Tradition

In preparation for Christmas dinner, I rent tables and have a ball creating festive tablescapes. The food is always incredible, in addition to the conversation and love shared. Some people dread spending time with family during holiday season, but we are so blessed to have the most loving, wonderful family.

festive entertaining holiday table dining room decorating traditions

Part of the tradition is creating an excuse to use special dinnerware that once belonged to mine and my husband’s grandmothers. The vintage crystal champagne glasses belonged to my husband Bill’s Austrian grandmother whom he’s had a close relationship with throughout his life. The antique silverware was my grandmother Nan’s most valuable possession. Every time I set the holiday table it reminds me how much she loved us and all the memories we shared.

gorgeous festive traditions table for Christmas entertaining

This is why I love Better Homes & Gardens Heritage dinnerware and serve ware so much. The patterns are full of nostalgic charm. They recall memories of past seasons and conjure up those sentimental feelings that make the holidays so special.


festive elegant table settings for holiday parties celebrations Christmas traditions

Holiday Memories Tied to Tastes and Smells

It is no wonder that many of our holiday traditions center around seasonal aromas and food. Our sense of smell is closely linked with memory, probably more so than any of our other senses. This is because of the way our brain processes odors and memories. The perception of smell consists not only of the sensation of the smells themselves but of the experiences and emotions associated with these sensations. They create a powerful and an important link to our pasts. The memories we are making now will one day be our children’s precious memories. It’s important we create the best memories that will last a lifetime.

holiday home traditions decor Christmas candle

Holiday Scented Candles

Maybe that’s why I love this Better Homes & Gardens candle so much. Their “Fresh Cut Frasier” scented candle reminds me of my childhood. Every single Christmas memory I have is wrapped up in this heavenly scent of pine. When I open the lid and light this beautiful double wick candle, I am instantly transported back in time.

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Enjoy this timeless holiday scent in several ways, candles, wax melts, and in a special set that includes a Room Spray, Reed Diffuser and Votive Candle. Plus, it makes a lovely holiday gift.

family kids traditions baking family fun

Holiday Baking Means Fun for the Whole Family

What would the holiday season be without baking? Julie and I began this tradition when we were little girls. It holds special significance because our grandmother helped start the tradition. Nan began her holiday baking mid-November and would freeze many of the treats. She had to start early because she baked so much! She made her famous fudge in huge batches and packaged them up to give to friends and family for Christmas.

family fun traditions baking cooking together

We made all the traditional types of Christmas cookies: sugar cookies, shortbread cookies, snowballs, and more. We loved her holiday version of Rice Krispy Treats where she replaced the Rice Krispies with corn flakes, added green food coloring, shaped them into wreaths and added three red hots as decorative berries. Two generations later these remain an annual favorite across our entire extended family.

Christmas holiday festive entertaining recipes traditions

holiday baking easy entertaining family traditions

If you love this Better Homes & Gardens Heritage Holiday Platter as much as we do, don’t wait until it’s no longer in season.

Gift Giving and Spiced Nuts

Another kitchen tradition that Julie and I have carried on from Nan is her recipe for Ginger Spiced Nuts. When Julie and I were young married couples living in the suburbs of Chicago, we actually lived together for several years. It felt very normal for us believe it or not. We did a lot of DIY projects and baking together.

During the holidays we started the tradition of baking large batches of Nan’s secret recipe for Ginger Spiced Nuts. We would wrap them up in cute packages and give them to our friends. I have very few things that I’ve kept since my childhood, but this little blue recipe book still holds my favorite recipes.

holiday recipes spiced nuts traditions

The tradition continues. Now we give them to teachers and our husbands’ co-workers as well as friends and neighbors. To get the details, you can read more about our original Ginger Spice Nuts recipe. There’s nothing like a homemade gift to make someone feel special.

Shop Our Holiday Traditions Better Homes & Gardens at Walmart Products

Shared Traditions Create Meaningful Holiday Moments

As time goes on, holidays are wrapped up in excessive to-do lists and day to day stresses. This is why it’s so important we carefully choose our commitments, especially during the holidays. Traditions create family bonding moments that force us to slow down and savor. Traditions make us feel grounded. Celebrating these traditions links us to past memories and helps us create lasting new ones. We hope they do the same for you.

We are delighted to share these favorite holiday traditions with you and hope you’ll share some of yours with us. Comment your traditions below, and maybe we’ll find a fun new idea to incorporate this year.

Have a magical holiday season, Dear Friends!

With love and blessings,

jodie & julie

P.S. Did you find our Elf??

BHG Live Better Influencer Network


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Making Merry This Holiday Season with Family Traditions
Article Name
Making Merry This Holiday Season with Family Traditions
Holiday traditions tell our children who we are, what's important. They bridge generations and link us to our past. What are yours?
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The Design Twins
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  1. Patti says:

    Beautifully written ladies…. Love learning about the traditions old and new and ways to carry them into the next generations. You’ve given great insights and ideas of how to mix the special heirlooms with newer modern pieces and I love that. Sounds like the holidays are pretty special in you family. Thank you for sharing.
    P.S. I had to go back to find the elf with Rocky and the boys 😉 so cute!

  2. La Donna Sullivan says:

    I found the elf before you mentioned him, not bragging or anything! I just love elves!😆😆All your decorations are great, love those dishes!

  3. Becky says:

    Beautiful post. Your house is lovely and looks like the perfect backdrop for more fun traditions. I found the elf with your cute boys.

  4. Kathleen says:

    Your post touches my heart and puts me in the Christmas spirit! I collect S&P shakers and hope to add this to my collection. They will also make great gifts.

  5. Carol says:

    I love that your boys choose and decorate their own tree. More importantly, that you give it a prime place in your home for display! Awesome parenting!
    I have the same blue and white check book to hold my recipes since childhood. Gave me a big smile to see yours.
    Thank you for incorporating your own traditions into an article filled with ideas for new traditions and where to find special goods.

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Carol, Thank you for your sweetest reply. We have a few things in common…not only did we have the same recipe book but your name Salt Box Cottage, Jodie and I grew up on Salt Box Lane in a real Salt Box home in CT. Too funny. Love these little coincidences. Thank you again sweet friend. Blessings, Julie & Jodie

  6. Shannon Fox says:

    I spied the Elf, and your boys are SO cute. How lucky you are to still have relatively little ones in the house. It’s not the same when they move… sniff sniff.

  7. Brenda Johnson says:

    Everything is so lovely! I enjoyed reading all the suggestions and ideas for a family Christmas! Those dishes are so cute and you are making me want them! Wal Mart sure has stepped up their game with so many cute things in decor and their clothing too!
    Happy Thanksgiving!

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      Brenda, Thank you so much sweet friend! We agree that Walmart has stepped up their game. We have come to learn this first hand while being partners of course with Better Homes & Gardens at Walmart. But we feel it is a great blessing both for us and our followers because there is such great value in their products. We proudly share them indeed. Happy Holidays, Julie & Jodie

  8. Claudia Ruffini says:

    Hello – I am looking for that “ho, ho, ho” sign. Could you give me a link for that sign please ? Thanks. xoxo

  9. Connie Ross says:

    Our family loves to attend church on Christmas Eve. At the end of the service the congregation forms a big circle, everyone has a small candle and we sing Silent Night. This year we will have to carry on this tradition in our home. Thanks for sharing your families traditions. I have a Santa Tree that I decorate every year. The ho, ho, ho sign would be perfect next to it. Where di you buy it?

  10. Diana Schutte says:

    You have a very beautiful home and family. I found your elf on the shelf. In the picture with your two handsome young men and your beautiful dog. Your elf was on the shelf standing in a jar or vase that looked like it had chicken wire around. Been enjoying your pictures and your beautiful decorating tips.

    • jjdesigntwins says:

      We can’t thank you enough for your kind comment on our blog post! You are so sweet and thoughtful to play along. This means so much to us. Happy Holidays!
      Lots of love,
      Jodie & Julie

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