Holiday Traditions that Won’t Break the Bank this Season

Deanna Seymour in a red and black dress with her daughter, next to a cardboard cutout of Elf with christmas lights hanging from the ceiling. Holiday Traditions that Won't Break the Bank this Season.

Ok, so I talked about Christmas Music admittedly a little too soon maybe, for some people. But today I wanna talk about Christmas Traditions and I feel like it’s December, so I should be ok, right?

I mean, haters gonna hate if they want to. 

But I’m gonna go full-on Christmas mode. 

So, again, in no particular order I wanna share my favorite Miller/Seymour Christmas traditions! The good news is, they don’t really cost all that much, and they’re pretty easy. Easy and cheap…just how I like ‘em! Haha!

Top Easy and Cheap Holiday Traditions

Guess the Chocolate

Ok, so number one I think is something only we do. You know those cheap little chocolate advent calendars? They’re like 2 dollars or something? 

Well we have to guess what the piece of chocolate is going to be. Will it be a boot, or a squirrel, or a candle, or a present, or a star. I’ve been playing this game for 40 years y’all, so I know what kind of images are in there!

Anyhoo…you guess and whoever gets it right gets to eat the chocolate. 

The problem is, you very rarely get it right. It’s a total crap shoot. And so, really you get to eat the chocolate whether you get it right or wrong. I guess that’s just the holiday spirit! What can I say? The simple things make me happy!

Church on Christmas Eve

You might be listening and either thinking, duh, it’s Christmas, so yeah…church. Or you might be thinking, Deanna…I didn’t know you were the churchin’ type. 

Well, truth be told, Christmas Eve is the one day a year I really want to go to church. I grew up Catholic and it just didn’t stick with me. I feel like I’m a spiritual person, and there’s something out there bigger than all of us, but I’m not ready to fully commit to just one idea of what that might be.

However, I love going to church on Christmas Eve. It’s kind of ironic, because I HATED it as a kid! It was just this giant interrupter in all the real fun for me. Haha. I remember one year it snowed and we couldn’t go and I was like, “It’s a Christmas Miracle!!!” 

But now, as a grown-up, especially one who doesn’t go to church often, I really look forward to gettin’ dolled up and going on Christmas. And then the music starts and I ball like a freakin’ baby. Like, y’all, it’s embarrassing. Like ugly crying. Full-on tears. 

There’s just something about those Christmas carols that really get me. I think about my Pap and my Grammie, and just my kids and my family and my heart just feels like it’s gonna explode with all the feelings. 

I’m like the Grinch when his heart is growing all the sizes or something. We’ve been going to Hill City Church in Richmond for the past few years and it’s amazing. They have life size cutouts of Buddy the Elf. They have popcorn and coffee and igloos made out of old milk jugs. It’s so much fun. I actually got on stage one year and sung a Christmas carol and won a five dollar Starbucks gift card. (Y’all know I can carry a Christmas tune.)

And then I’m there sobbing and laughing at myself for sobbing. And it’s just a big hot joyus Christmas tradition. I look forward to it every year.

Christmas Eve Snack Dinner

So then after church we can come home and start drinking and eating. Right?!? 

Matt’s family came up with this tradition and I am a huge fan of it. On Christmas eve, dinner is just a big ol’ spread of appetizers! Appetizers are by far my favorite part of a meal, so the idea of a dinner made of just snacks is just the best idea ever. 

Legend has it that Barbara (Matt’s mom) was working at a department store one year and she had to work on Christmas Eve. That meant Matt’s dad, Michael, was in charge. 

He packed up the kids and headed to the grocery store. Apparently Matt was just a baby for the inaugural snack dinner, so this is a long standing tradish in the Seymour house. Michael and the kids picked out frozen appetizers, chips and dip, cheese and crackers, and even two kinds of M&Ms! Ooh La La! It was such a hit that it stuck. 

Thank goodness it did, because when I came along about 35 years later I got introduced to the idea. And now it’s one of my favorite things about the holidays! I love thinking and planning out what new apps I’m gonna make!

The 12 Gifts of Christmas

Now this next tradition was made up by me and Matt. Ya know how some people are really good at gift giving and some people aren’t?

Well, this next tradition evens the playing field! We give each other 12 gifts of Christmas. Here’s how it works. You pick a budget that works for you. Whatever it is, just think about how you gotta buy 12 presents. So plan accordingly. The thing is, some of the presents can come from the thrift store, the dollar store, a buy-nothing group, or be a coupon for a back rub or wherever! But you have to wrap up 12 presents! 

Two years ago I did a little “Chopped” basket for Matt. You know, the cooking show? I went to World Market, where they have all the fancy ingredients in the back and bought a tiny jar of some sort of jam, and lemon-infused olive oil or something, and I forget what else, but it was a fun gift for sure. What else? There’s almost always a great coffee mug for someone at the thrift store. 

You can totally get creative with it. And I feel like it forces people to really put some thought into it. You can still totally give suggestions, but it’s just a fun way for us parents to have a few more gifts to open on Christmas.

The Elf on the Shelf

When Matt and I talked about having kids before we were married, the topic of Santa came up. He said he didn’t wanna partake. And I was like, “WOAH! HOLD UP! That might be a deal breaker for me!” I mean, I LOVE CHRISTMAS! So of course I wanted to include him. It was super important to me, and marriage is about compromise, so Matt agreed to Santa but only with the understanding that there would be no elf. 

I reluctantly agreed, and told myself that we have a monster on the move at Halloween or something. But then…when Ruby was just a baby one of my 12 gifts was an Elf on the Shelf. I’m a crazy person, so as soon as I opened it I burst into tears. I was so excited that I’d be able to get to experience it with Ruby when she got a little older. 

If you think the elf is too much work, I have a story for you! My Aunt Michele was in charge of moving the elf for her granddaughter Ryleigh. She kept forgetting to move it, and instead of freaking out about it, my Aunt just played it off and said, “Man! That elf is so lazy! She didn’t fly back!?” And then for the rest of the month Ryleigh thought it was hilarious when the elf didn’t move. It was almost better than if the elf did move! 

I think moms are putting too much pressure on the whole elf thing. You don’t have to go on Pinterest. Just move it. Easy peasy. One morning it’s in the kitchen. Then it’s in the bathroom. Nailed it! Or don’t move it at all and yuck it up about how the elf might get fired! Hahahahah!

Have a Holly Stress-free Christmas!

The point is, these traditions and memories are just little tiny moments. They don’t have to be huge, planned out, perfect moments. It’s just the day-to-day stuff that is magical. The things we felt like we screwed up are the things we laugh so hard we cry about later.

Those little funny memories are the things that make me ugly cry when Silent Night comes on at Christmas Eve Church. Ya know. Ease up on the pressure and just enjoy your totally screwupable Christmas traditions. Oh, and you can still download my little award for people who #nailedit with their Christmas decorations. Grab it here.

Your next step:

Just take it easy on yourself this holiday season and look for the joy in the small, hilarious, weird little moments. And grab the Holiday #nailed it Award download if you think that might help make a new Holiday Tradition.

More from Deanna Here…

"Nailed it" Holiday Cheer Award. Grab it here and download for your family.
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