8 easy Christmas traditions to add to your holidays

  • DIY nativity set for the kids by Veronika G Photography

8 easy Christmas traditions to add to your holidays

Christmas time is one big celebration for us.

We live in Canada with our two girls, but both my husband and I are from the Czech Republic. We only speak Czech at home, visiting our country every year with our kids and it’s really important to show them as much about our country and traditions as we can.

Our Christmas is pretty similar to a Canadian Christmas but one of the most important thing is, Czech Christmas is all about Jesus and celebrations of his Birthday. But! Because we live in Canada, Santa is visiting our house as well, and my kids are very happy about it. As they say, they’re most lucky kids to get the best of both worlds.

We do many crafts and traditions, and because I have new ideas every year and because my kids remember all the things we did the previous years, it may get pretty busy. And messy 🙂 But always with happy kids and mama at the end.

Our Christmas time starts officially on the first Advent Sunday which is the first of four Sundays before Christmas. We make an Advent wreath, lighting up the first candle and starting the decorating.

1. Walks for Christmas decor

We love to go for walks. It may get pretty cold here in Ontario, but we are used to it and enjoying the true seasonal weather. We pick up winter greens, pine cones and just any gifts from mother nature. We like to go to Czech church where the kids can meet St.Mikulas-Nicholas – yes, this man later became Santa Claus. He visits kids in Czech on December 5th, often with an angel and devil, to check on kids if they were good that year. Our kids put their stocking outside and get little gifts like fruit and treats from him.

choosing a Christmas tree photo by Veronika G Photography

Czech church and meeting Santa Claus by Veronika G Photogrpahy

2. Advent calendar

The Advent calendar is, of course, a very favourite tradition for my kids. Every year we make a gingerbread one and last year I also did a Books Advent calendar. I pretty much collected all the books through the year from thrift stores and then spent the whole night of November 30th packing and hanging them on our stairs; yeap I’m bad with deadlines! What’s different here is that our Christmas day is December 24th, so our Advent calendars have only 24 items.

Homemade Advent Calendar by Veronika G Photography

Advent Calendar photo by Veronika G Photography

cookie shapes photo by Veronika G Photography

gingerbread advent calendar by Veronika G Photography

gingerbread houses ornaments by Veronika G Photography

3. Vintage ornaments

I have many vintage ornaments and we also make some new ones every year. My favourite are those made from mother nature gifts. Dried apples on a string of garland or single rounds or alone (image below), pine cones, garland made of cranberries, dried oranges as round slices or whole “cloves orange”. The oranges are a Czech classic, I make a pattern with a fork and the kids put cloves in; they love to do it and it smells amazing! A true Christmas smell for me! When you put the finished orange on a dry warm place, it will dry out completely and you have it forever. We are adding new ones every year to our bowl on the table.

box of vintage Christmas ornaments picture by Veronika G Photography

candle ornament on wire hanger by Veronika G Photography

dried fruit Christmas garland and ornaments by Veronika G Photography

4. The nativity set

This nativity set is a super simple craft, learning toy, and gift to make. We sent 5 of these last year to family overseas. My six year old just simply drew the nativity scene; since we have many books about it, she had lots of inspiration. We cut them out and glued them in little boxes.

DIY nativity set for the kids by Veronika G Photography

5. Salt dough ornaments

Salt dough ornaments were a huge hit last year. The kids painted some of them for their little Christmas tree in their room and we left some natural because I like our big tree pretty boring and natural 🙂 Recipe is:

  • 1 cup of salt
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of warm water (you may not need a whole cup of water, it’s better to add it slowly)
  • Bake slowly for about 1 hour at 200F

homemade salt dough ornaments pictures by Veronika G Photography

6. Homemade angels

I have been making these Angels since kindergarten as every Czech kid did I believe. Again, super simple pattern as you can see. The kids cut it and draw the face of the angel along with other details. Then you glue it at the back and wings. Angels are a big part of Christmas in Czech because they came to tell people that Jesus was born.

DIY paper Christmas angels by Veronika G Photography

7. DIY wrapping paper

We make our Christmas wrapping paper every year. I use regular brown paper, roll it out from the living room to the kitchen and let the kids have fun. They stamp it with potato stamps, brush paint it, and splash paint. The painting is pretty messy but entertaining for everyone. We then put our paper roll outside for Jesus or Santa to take and use for our gifts.

DIY wrapping paper for the kids by Veronika G Photography

homemade wrapping paper photo by Veronika G Photography

8. Christmas Day on Christmas Eve

Christmas day is December 24th in our house. We have Christmas dinner by candlelight and a sparkling Christmas tree – it’s magical! We do some more traditions like cutting the apples to see who has the best star which means you will have the best health next year. After dinner, we go for a walk or simply leave the room with the tree. It maybe be a little difficult for one parent to go back and get the gifts under the tree, especially with bigger kids because they have eyes everywhere. We wait to hear a tiny bell ringing – Jesus telling us he was there – and then we go back to the room and everyone unpacks their gifts. We usually sing a couple Christmas carols to thank Jesus for all the gifts too.

table set for Christmas dinner photo by Veronika G Photography

kids in front of the Christmas tree picture by Veronika G Photography

apple stars by Veronika G Photography

I’m posting many more images of the “craft in progress” on Instagram here. I would like to tell you about the Christmas cards we did, deer heads. We stamped the kid’s feet and then used Q-tips or pencil erasers to do round lights on the antlers.

Christmas craft Instagram photos from Veronika G Photography

I hope you will have fun with some of our craft! The most important for me is to spend time together while waiting for this big day. It never occurred to me that kids wouldn’t like to do crafts or read books but maybe that’s because I have two girls?! It maybe be hard to do such things in that busy time and I know I also don’t want to be exhausted at the dinner table. I try to take it easy with work in December and don’t overdo it with all the baking (another big Czech tradition is to have many different Christmas cookies ready), cleaning, and preparing. Christmas time should be exactly the opposite – calm, slow, and enjoyable – even if it’s sometimes (aka every time) hard to do!

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About the Author:

My name is Veronika and I'm a wife, and mother to two gorgeous girls. They are my biggest inspiration: the way they seek beauty in ordinary things. I'm blessed to be able to learn from them every day. As many others, my true photography journey started when my first was born and it hasn't stopped since. I'm a lover of shadows, grain, and black and white. I love to capture moments in between - love, real life, connection, whether it's my own family or families and people who let me step in, and capture these moments for them. Nature is also my big inspiration in all aspects of my work, whether it's photography or designing and making props - the colours, textures and simpleness yet originality in it is never-ending. I also love coffee, baking (and eating it), Canon, gardening (and eating it with my girls), our horses, and summer storms. Visit Veronika Goisova online.
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13 Comments

  1. Heather Dec 03 2014 at 4:18 pm - Reply

    These are all so fun! I’ve been wanting to wrap and decorate my gifts similar to how you described. Where do you find your rolls of brown paper?

    • Jamie-Lynn Dec 04 2014 at 2:40 pm - Reply

      I’ve seen brown paper at Dollar Tree for packages. Also IKEA has the paper for drawing on a big roll for like $5.

    • Kari Dec 05 2014 at 8:34 am - Reply

      Michaels or any other craft store carries butcher paper, too. It is usually in the wrapping section. It is fairly inexpensive, too – compared to other wrapping paper!

  2. Jen Dec 03 2014 at 4:56 pm - Reply

    I just love the simplicity of all of these ideas. Thank you for sharing, I plan to try several.

  3. Terezia Dec 03 2014 at 5:36 pm - Reply

    I´m glad that people outside of the Europe still love their traditions 🙂 Keep up great work
    a mimochodom nádherné fotečky, krásna galeria 🙂
    Pozdravujem zo Slovenska
    T.

  4. Kristin Dokoza Dec 03 2014 at 5:45 pm - Reply

    Love these! Definitely adding some to my list this year. Gorgeous images too

  5. Celeste Pavlik Dec 03 2014 at 8:28 pm - Reply

    I love all of these sooo much!! I’m really inspired to incorporate some of your ideas in to our traditions in our new home. Thank you so much for sharing your traditions and your beautiful work! By far some of the best I’ve seen!!! xo

  6. Marissa Dec 03 2014 at 8:31 pm - Reply

    What fun traditions and beautiful images! Thank you for sharing, Veronika!

  7. kendra Dec 04 2014 at 1:01 am - Reply

    What special and beautiful traditions! Thank you for sharing!

  8. Kari Dec 05 2014 at 8:31 am - Reply

    These traditions, and your pictures of them, are lovely! I love the subdued, natural colors in each one – really feels like Christmas at home. I especially love that you mentioned the Czech tradition of opening stockings on December 5th! I come from a Polish family and we have that same tradition. People always think I’m crazy when I try to explain “St. Nick’s Day” – as we call it – to them. So glad this tradition is alive and well in other parts of North America as well! Enjoy this season with your family!

  9. Veronika Goisova Dec 05 2014 at 12:10 pm - Reply

    Thank you very much everyone,its so nice to hear that people enjoy to read about our Christmas and getting inspired to try some of it,Merry Christmas to all of you! )
    Veronika

  10. luciet Dec 13 2016 at 5:22 pm - Reply

    What a wonderful post! I am a Czech living in the UK and to read about Czech traditions on the CM blog just made my heart sing! I have two little children and love passing down a part of my childhood and in some cases even improving it. Our favourite magical addition is the use of modern technology. My grandmother gave me an old bell which I adore because it sounds like Christmas to me and we told the kids that when Baby Jesus rings the bell, they can go in the room and see if he left any presents. I found a ringtone that sounds remarkably like that bell, assigned it to my husband’s number (just for that evening!!) and he then secretly calls me just when we are finishing Christmas dinner. The look on our children’s faces (well, the older one’s who is 4) is just… well… magical for me as a parent. My husband is British, but he is a great sport and loves having two Christmases.

    And now I must go out and buy some brown wrapping paper because I absolutely adore that idea!
    And sewing paper into Christmas shaped parcels? That is ingenious. I am hopeless with sewing, but I’ll have to give our toy sewing machine a go this Christmas.

    I love your Christmas photographs and your styling is beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

    Veselé Vánoce vám všem!

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