And So it Begins – Christmas Cards

8th November 2010

Peace Snowflake Holiday Letterpress Cards in Blue and Silver
from Letterpress Delicacies

These letterpress Peace cards are so good I’d like to bite them.

I know it’s obscene to be shopping for Christmas cards already, but I get discouraged if the holidays pass us by without sending cards and hanging a wreath on the door. It seems like a low bar, but I can’t tell you how many years have gone by that I haven’t managed to accomplish those two things.

What’s your “it’s not the holidays without” tradition?

65 thoughts on “And So it Begins – Christmas Cards

  1. Allison Blass

    It’s not the holidays without Christmas lights and little Christmas decor items all around the house. Even if they are only from the Dollar Tree, if the house doesn’t have red and green (or blue and white) all around, it just feels like the rest of the year. Nothing special.

  2. elsie

    Sending out Peace holiday cards has been my personal little tradition for about 10 years now, I LOVE the one you featured and you’re absolutely right it is YUMMY!!

  3. Shauna (Fido & Wino)

    After Eight chocolates… mandarine oranges (not local, I know, I KNOW, but so Christmas-y)… sitting by the tree late at night with all the lights off except for the twinkly lights on the tree… advent calendar (yup, I’m an adult; yup an advent calendar is necessary)… Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You.


  4. Stephanie

    I’m big on designing my own Christmas cards, and making them original/funny/odd/quirky in some way or another. One year involved a leopard print crest with cats and dinosaurs. Last year was a hipsteresque/comic book illustration of my boyfriend and I.

    Also having a tree is necessary, although one year I realized that not a single other person other than myself had seen my tree. That might have been one of my more depressing single-girl-living-on-her-own moments in life.

  5. Amy

    It’s not the holidays if I don’t take myself to Nordstrom to buy a coffee and creepily lurk around the amazing piano player they always have. Something about hearing those holiday tunes pounded out while surrounded by busy shoppers warms my heart.

  6. Dina

    – Benjamin Britten’s “Ceremony of Carols”
    – Vince Guaraldi’s “Charlie Brown Christmas”
    – Tchaikovski’s Nutcracker Suite
    – Kitka’s “Wintersongs”
    – A new classic: Sting’s “If on a Winter’s Night”

    Also baking gingerbread, and playing carols on recorder with my mom.

  7. Beth

    Decorating the Christmas tree while the album from John Denver & The Muppets: A Christmas Together plays. That’s a family tradition going back to my childhood.

    Baking pumpkin breads for all my local friends and driving around town with my sweetie to drop them off. (Next year, and the year after that etc., we get to do these things with our kid!)

  8. Leah

    baking snickernoodles. I haven’t always done that in the past few years. You’re right — without that tradition, for me, it doesn’t feel like Christmas. Decking the halls at my parents’ house is another fun tradition that I love. When we were kids, we put up the Christmas tree while cleaning up after Thanksgiving dinner so that everyone had a role in the house.

    My life is going by so fast right now (working and in grad school) that I haven’t celebrated holidays as much as I like. I’ll be glad to be done with school and back to being able to live my full life. My sincere hope is that I’m back to my full-tilt celebrate holidays by the time I have kids.

  9. Megan

    It’s not the holidays without my boyfriend and I awkwardly skirting around the fact that he’s Jewish/Christmas abhorring and I’m of the present- buying/ economy-boosting religion. Good times.

  10. Jennifer

    Christmas music, tree, wreath, lights, advent calendars for the kids, creche on the mantel, driving around to see amazing Christmas light displays (then hot chocolate after), holiday cards, and Christmas Eve candlelight service w/carols. Pretty darn traditional.

  11. Megan Rosemary

    My mom makes these shortbread cookies with very finely chopped dark chocolate, hazelnuts, and orange zest. To me, they taste like Christmas. This December I will be in Istanbul, doing some traveling while on a study abroad program, and while I have a copy of her recipe, I can already tell you they will not taste the same.

  12. Jennifluff

    Eating rice porridge on Christmas Eve. As a kid, my Aunt and Uncle would host, and every year until I was 18, I got an almond, which meant you got an extra present. Now that I have my own family, I get to choose who gets an almond in their bowl. The best part now is fake hollering at my boys to “Stop digging around in there or it won’t count!”. Its awesome to watch them attempt to be sly.

  13. m

    Santa, can you hear meeee, I have been so good this yeeeaaarr…

    Just kidding. Kind of. *looks down*

    In all seriousness, being a choir girl for ten years left me with a soft spot for Christmas carols. I’m not religious in the slightest, but I love it all the same.

  14. Meegan

    Christmas season isn’t complete without hearing Sandi Patty’s ultra-soprano Christmas album, circa 1983. After hearing my parents play it on repeat each and every holiday season for the last 27 years, my sister and I know every effing word. We revel in the cheesy, churchy dorkiness. My husband HATES it. Maggeh? Looking for some new holiday music to add to your 1000 songs. I dare you.

  15. sunny

    digging out any CD by Kenny G and watching the twinkling lights on a Christmas tree. In this apartment, the tree is a fiber optic one – but mesmerizing lights nonetheless.

  16. Kim

    Starbucks hot chocolate + friends, strolling arm-in-arm down Linda Drive and the surrounding streets, lanes and avenues all decked out in their over-the-top tackiest holiday decor!

  17. Emily Norton

    It’s not the holidays without a tree and watching A Charlie Brown Xmas. We really enjoy pulling out the decorations together and setting those up too. We do it together, me and the kids. Christmas is about family, and eating good food.

    I could do without the shopping stress, so every year I divide presents into categories (a movie, a toy, a book, new jammies, new warm stuff, and the big present you asked for, plus a few surprises – usually jewelry) and try to get them early and local (or online).

    I have also stopped sending cards, but who knows, I used to love that, and may so again.

    Keep up the good work Maggie!

  18. amanda a.

    Every year, my husband and I enjoy a version of “A Christmas Carol.” Three years ago we started the tradition with a lively performance at a local theatre company. Two years ago, we listened to Patrick Stewart’s incredible performance and last year we attended a brilliant staged reading. This year, we’ve already got tickets to Los Angeles’ Independent Shakespeare Company’s performance. It promises to be *delicious* and satisfying.

  19. Clair

    My family is navigating a new series of holiday traditions after the death of my dad – it’ll be two years this Christmas. Figuring it all out has been rough, but this year, I think we’re going back to exchanging presents on Christmas eve – a tradition going back to my childhood. And music. Lots of music.

    I’m so excited to get back into my tradition of sending Christmas card. I’ve lapsed the past few years, and the selection is a little overwhelming. Thanks for your link!

  20. Jan

    My Dad burning the pancakes every Christmas morning. I love you Dad but we should know better by now not to let you near the iron griddle….

  21. Cati Basmati

    Singing christmas carols in my car. I have only one CD which of course features Rudolph, but I am not allowed to sing along anywhere else. Which is reasonable.
    Holidays also cannot pass without the annual newsletter of my brother’s godmother who likes to entertain EVERYONE with details on the various surgeries her family had to go through that particular year. Happy Holidays :-)

  22. Tina

    Putting up the tree, making treats and watching my list of movies I have to watch every year. I don’t bother with forcing the husband to put up outdoor lights anymore. It’s a pain in the ars to hound him about taking them down for 3 months.

  23. KMayer

    Diana Krall xmas tunes. Blind Boys of Alabama.
    And making our own wrapping paper w kids. They still all participate even tho 3 teens and a tween!

  24. Rebecca

    Sausage balls and ‘Silent Night’ for me. And the smell of Maxwell House and clove/cinnamon mixed together.

  25. Rebecca

    I’m expecting our 2nd on December 10th and am trying to be realistic about what’s actually possible and necessary this holiday season. I think for me, it’s not Christmas without carols and baking a batch of holiday cookies. Though, it sure is nice to have a tree, too.

  26. Stella

    It’s not Christmas for me until I’ve had some coquito and have heard some traditional Puerto Rican Christmas music. And by traditional I mean super boisterous songs that tell of how to prepare a pig for your holiday meal and where the party’s at.

  27. Kathleen

    It’s not the holiday’s until I’ve made chocolate kiss thumbprint cookies, pestered my husband to risk life and limb getting the decorations down in the garage, and yes; sent out holiday cards. I’ve been trolling at the book store but have resisted buy them until closer to December.

  28. Danielle

    It’s not the holidays until it snows and I’m bustling around my kitchen baking while listening to A Jolly Christmas from Frank Sinatra, and sipping on a hot cup of mulled apple cider (spiked, of course.) Ahhhhh, I can’t wait…

  29. Sheri Bheri

    It’s not the holidays without hearing “Feliz Navidad” on the radio and singing along with “Fleas on the dog!” My Dad’s been gone for a few years now, so we’re re-negotiating Christmas too, but we’ll never forget to sing “Fleas on the dog” in his honour.

  30. Kara

    It is not Christmas for me without:
    1. A real tree decorated with lights and blown glass balls (warning – cat hazard!)
    2. Decorative stocking on the fireplace mantel (warning – cat hazard!)
    3. Putting miniature ornaments on the potted orange tree in the eat-in kitchen (warning – cat hazard!)
    4. Watching “A Christmas Story” on Christmas Eve


    It seems that a lot of my favorite Christmas traditions are invitations to cat-caused mayhem. Oh well… at least the cats have yet to tip the whole tree over because they tried to climb it. (cross fingers that this never happens)

  31. Karen

    We live on our city’s parade route. Every year, my husband, parents and I all trek to the tree farm early in the morning, select our trees and haul them back to our place before the parade starts. We make hot chocolate with peppermint liquer and watch the parade go by all bundled up and cozy. After, we head upstairs to decorate our tree. This involves yelling and drinking and string light flinging. In fact, the first time my husband said the “F word” in front of my parents was during one of these episodes. We were hammered. I think we had martinis that year. The tree, miraculously, turned out great. It’s not the holidays until I chuck a strand of lights, my husband drops the F-Bomb and my parents smirk at eachother over their steaming mugs of booze.

  32. Lauren

    I’m a newlywed this holiday season, so I get to start new traditions with my darling husband (see also: force my family’s WAY cooler traditions on him… very subtly, of course). Up until now, it wasn’t Christmas without my Mom’s don’t-plan-on-driving-afterwards Rum Cake, at least 5 solid evenings dedicated to the whole family cuddled up on the couch, talking and looking at the Christmas lights (colored ones, JOSH), and attending a candlelit service on the Eve to remind ourselves what is at the heart of our joyous celebrating.

  33. elz

    Watching “White Christmas” while decorating the house and wrapping packages. We don’t send Christmas cards, we choose an obscure holiday during the year and send then. This year-Groundhog Day!

  34. Andrea

    Baking, baking, baking with my mom while listening to Christmas carols on old, scratchy vinyl records. Decorating the tree and drinking heavily-spiked eggnog. Christmas morning hangovers and finding an orange in my stocking.

  35. Maren

    This is depressing, but as the years go on and my dysfunctional family spirals farther apart, I’ve learned that December 25 is pretty much going to be “Christmas” no matter what traditions we do or don’t manage to do (more often the latter). I would like to say “the dang tree, at least!”, but we actually skipped that one year. I think just about all I can rely on these days is watching the Muppet Christmas Carol at some point in December with my husband, and my dad making coffee cake early on Christmas morning from an old SF Chronicle recipe (though he keeps threatening to stop).

    And yes, we plan on starting our own family in the next year or two, and hopefully starting some traditions we can keep instead of being sad that my family of origin can’t get it together.

  36. Heather

    Baking my mom’s cookies. They are super crispy, super thin, flat sugar cookies with sprinkles that you literally beat into submission. The recipe is in the Joy of Cooking. My brothers and sister hoard them, and insist they only taste good if someone else makes them, so they never help.

  37. Sassafras Mama

    I’m rather a fiend for Christmas traditions. Must haves: setting out my son’s Advent calendar filled with treats, baking dozens and dozens of cookies for my students, Christmas tree browsing on a cold Friday night, lights and decorations on my front porch, playing Santa.

  38. Kimberly

    It’s not Christmas without going into Philadelphia and watching the light show at Macy’s, which used to be Wanamaker’s. We used to do this when I was a kid, then we all stopped for many years. Now I’ll go with my beau and plop on the floor and be 8 years old again.

    That and falling asleep on the sofa with the room lit only by the Christmas tree. Aaaaah…

  39. Jaime

    It ain’t Christmas if there hasn’t been some serious family awkwardness. Politics? Check. Religion? Check. And look, it’s only been fifteen minutes. Yessssss!

  40. Sarah

    All of it, every single thing people have mentioned here and a million more. Just that warm feeling, it smells like cinnamon and warms your belly like shots, and you can just feel it in the air.

  41. Eleanor's Trousers

    I am resisting the urge to drag my Christmas gear out of the basement already. I love to buy bags of those cinnamon scented pinecones and store them dangerously close to the heating vents so the house smells like Christmas (and danger).

  42. Michelle

    We’re wreath-on-the-door people too. Except now it’s a fake wreath, because I was so allergic to the last one.

  43. Jessica

    Music: Elvis Christmas cd, Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack, and Bing Crosby.
    Must have a real tree at home and a big get together at my grandpa’s.

  44. Cammi

    We have many, many holiday traditions that must be done every year. Decorating the Christmas tree as a family while eating donuts with hot chocolate, church party, Christmas cards with a family photo, fancy prime rib dinner with my side of the family on Christmas Eve, burning the Christmas trees around New Years and having a bonfire which includes more hot chocolate and donuts. But I have to say, my favorite part of Christmas is finding ways to help other people during this season. It’s my favorite tradition from growing up and I look forward to it every year. In fact, I’ve already started projects for this year!

  45. jennifer

    ghetto egg nog lattes and gingerbread houses with one or many friends. that means it’s the season for me. this is the first year without my dad and i know we will be fumbling along a bit as we find our way to renewed/recycled/reused traditions.
    love reading everyone’s comments.

  46. Karin

    Sitting in front of a fire, listening to David Sedaris read his Santaland Diaries (you can find it in the This American Life Archives, but be sure to listen to the full length version!)

  47. dreadpiraterach

    Its not Christmas to me without:

    – a chocolate advent calender
    – going to a christmas event (usually singalong carols with a professional choir) at the Royal Albert Hall in London. My boyfriend and I have gone every year that we have been together, and this year will be number 5!

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