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It’s truly the most wonderful time of year. Packing up my bags, leaving my college home and best friends, and landing in the below-freezing temperatures that create a Chicago winter sounds unappealing, but nothing is better than coming home for the holidays. Families set aside their differences to come together and celebrate another year gone by as they excitedly wait for that first snowflake to fall. Each snowflake possesses its own set of DNA, yet they come together as one to create a gorgeous, unparalleled picture. In a way, families represent these snowflake patterns — each with its own ridges, curves, and loops that make them unique. One of the key markers of a true family Christmas is traditions, so I’m sharing my top five traditions to prioritize in the crazy whirlwind of a holiday home.

Decorating Cookies & Leaving them Out For Santa

No matter how old you get, there is something so magical about baking cookies on Christmas Eve and leaving them out with a tall glass of milk and some carrots for the reindeer. For as long as I can remember, my family and I baked the masterpiece that is a homemade sugar cookie. Rolling out handmade dough with our hands covered in baking powder, Wham!’s Last Christmas blasting in the background, and cookie-cutter shapes lining the counter — all was right in my world. 

Christmas Caroling 

Christmas Caroling may be an age-old tradition, but there’s a reason it’s lasted this long. Bundling up with your favorite crew and trekking around your neighborhood is the easiest way to spread holiday cheer while getting connected with your community. Caroling can be a great way to bring all of the important people in your life together. 

Open One Present on Christmas Eve

My favorite part about Christmas Eve every year is opening up my first gift. It is never a surprise, as my mom always got a pajama set for each of us, but it is exponentially exciting every time. Something about my brother in reindeer sweatpants, my mom and I in matching plaid sets, and my dad in a snowman t-shirt just makes my heart warm. 

Hide the Pickle Ornament 

Christmas festivities would not be complete without a competitive activity. In my family, we hide a pickle ornament in the tree, and the first person to find it gets five bucks. It may be a quick game, but the adrenaline rush is the perfect way to start a morning of pure joy. 

Put up an Advent Calendar

In the feverish winter season, sometimes we lose grasp of the holiday spirit. Putting up an advent calendar is the perfect way to reel yourself back in and focus on the joy. In my house, the chocolate calendars are the only option, because what better way than to feel joy than with sweets. 

Caroline is a sophomore Strategic Communication major and Business minor at Texas Christian University. She is originally from the wonderful city of Chicago but is always fantasizing about New York. Caroline is obsessed with writing, Broadway, working out, music from the 80s, and all-things Sex and the City. Oh, and any form of vegan dessert.
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