The holidays don't really feel like the holidays until you've welcomed a new baby to the family.
I am Catholic and my husband is Jewish. It's safe to say we do a lot of celebrating throughout December! When I gave birth to our second daughter, Chloe, during this merry month, we put her in a reindeer hat and bib and bought her a "Baby's First Christmas" ornament to match her older sister's. Our girl was only a few weeks old and already a part of our festivities!
Holidays take on greater meaning once there's a baby in the house. Your sweetie is too small to ask about Santa or feast on latkes, but you'll want to whoop it up. We asked readers to share the way they marked their baby's first holiday season, and the rituals they look forward to in the coming years. Feel free to steal ideas!
- For my 9-month-old, Bernardo, I downloaded the sound of sleigh bells and told him Santa was getting close when I put him to bed. Then I used powdered sugar to make footprints from the fire escape window to the tree. He barely noticed, but it made it special for me and my husband to have someone worthy of such a production.
--Iliana Zuniga, South Norwalk, CT
- I took both my kids to have their first picture taken with Santa when they were only about a month old. Neither cried, I think in part because they were too young to see the big guy very clearly!
--Lana Cabrera, Boca Raton, FL
- This year I'll stroll 8-month-old Raleigh through the neighborhood and show him all the lights. He can enjoy that at his age--but has to wait until next year for the cookies!
--Leanne Rakowitz Nolte, Houston
- RELATED: Your Baby's First Holiday
Hung Up on Ornaments, Stockings, and More
- Since my daughter, Evelyn Rose, was born two years ago, my annual tradition has been buying a jeweled snowflake ornament to save. I'll give them to her when she's grown and has her own home.
--Laura B. Jackon, Virgnia Beach, VA
- To commemorate my daughter Giannna's first Christmas, I made an ornament with her handprint in plaster, using a craft-store kit.
--Heather Licata, Deerfield Beach, FL
- I create handmade stockings for my family. It began with one for my husband the first year we were together. Then I made one for my stepdaughter, Jessica, and eventually another for her husband, Heiko. This year I'm going to be busy cross-stitching two stockings: for my new son, John, and my first grandson, Emery--Jessica and Heiko's son. Both boys were born this year!
--Sharon DeLuca, Tampa, Florida
- We plan to give each of our twins, Kaylynn and Lilly, a new ornament every Christmas Eve, marked with their name and the year.
--Jennifer Cousineau, Waupun, WI
- I can't wait to take our Elf on the Shelf out of the box! Maren is almost 2, and she's already a chatterbox, so I'm looking forward to hearing what she's going to name him.
--Danielle Nicolosi, Mickleton, New Jersey
The First Noel
- The year Lucas was born we decided to put up our first live Christmas tree to decorate, rather than a fake one, for that wonderful pine smell. When we watered it, Lucas would try to help--which usually meant sticking his hand in! We snapped the best photo of him in front of the tree to use for our Christmas cards.
--Roseanne Brill, Westwood, New Jersey
- We kick off each Christmas morning by telling the true Christmas story, a tradition we started with my daughter, now 4. It's great because it takes the focus off of toys. We'll continue with our second child, a boy born in September.
--Ashley Gabriel, Sherrills Ford, North Carolina
- We have not been home for Christmas for more than seven years, between military deployments for both of us and my husband's service in Korea for the past three years. Now that we have a 2-year-old and a newborn, we'll start the tradition of going to Grandma and Grandpa's house for a huge Christmas feast. I've missed my family—and the holiday food!
--Kimberly Hampton Triplett, Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas
- Last year my father-in-law read the poem "Twas the Night Before Christmas" with our baby, George, on his lap. It was amazing because he had read that story aloud every Christmas to my husband and his brother. We decided to buy one of those recordable books so we could save Grandpa's voice forever!
--Jessica Sinnott, Brooklyn, New York
- Although he was tiny, for my oldest son's first Christmas, we cut down our own tree at a tree farm. My husband still has the picture of that day on his desk because I had Colby in a backpack and there was fresh snow and beautiful Fraser firs all around--really an idyllic scene.
--Kristin Rosser, Virginia Beach, Virgina
- We'll be getting our Christmas gift late this year--our girl is due at New Year's! But I intend to take photos every year and use them along with scraps from my daughter's Christmas outfits to create a Christmas quilt. We'll make our first square this year with a picture of my pregnant bump, transferred to fabric.
--Priscilla DeSimone, Alpha, New Jersey
- RELATED: Baby's First Holiday
Christmas Eve Fun
- My Dad makes everyone name plaques. When we visit my parents' house, we hang up our plaques to show we're home and remove them when it's time to leave. A new child in the family doesn't get her plaque until Christmas Eve. I remember how excited I was when Maddie received hers. Our daughter was 'official.'
--Amy Balestier, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
- We always let the kids open one present on Christmas Eve: holiday pajamas, so they look festive in the morning when I take pictures.
--Aimie Shirley, Stuarts Draft, Virginia
- Christmas Eve is always a treat for the kids, because my father-in-law dresses up as Santa. On his first Christmas, my oldest son was 5 months old and stared at "Santa" in amazement. Now he's 6 and has started to catch on that Old Saint Nick is Grandpa!
--Donna Bacolo, Nazareth, Pennsylvania
- RELATED: Surviving Holiday Visits With Baby
Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and More
- To make Avery's first Hanukkah special, I lit candles on a clay menorah I made in nursery school and used all through my childhood.
--Jessica Anger, Parkland, Florida
- For my daughter Addison's first Hanukkah, we gave her a present on every night, even though she had no clue what it was all about. I took pictures of the labels that said, "Happy 1st Hanukkah--love Mommy and Daddy" and videotaped us all saying the prayers together in front of the menorah. She even wore a yarmulke!
--Brooke Kelson, Merrick, New York
- My family's Christmas celebrations feature an abundance of gifts and a never-ending array of dishes. But now that I'm pregnant with my first child, I'm planning to start marking Kwanzaa as well. My husband and I are discussing the importance of exposing our child to various holidays and of creating our own special rituals. Taking part in meaningful customs will, we hope, be a key part of the season for him (or her!)
--Latoya Welch, Elmont, New York
- My husband and I mark the solstice on December 21. Two years ago, it was the day we found out I was pregnant! Last year, we put up our tree on that date and gave Mason his first stocking.
--Heather Morgan-Shott, Long Island City, New York
- I'm Lutheran and my husband is Jewish. Last year, for our daughter's first holiday season, we took a picture of her wearing only a diaper and a Santa hat while gumming a toy menorah and made it into a holiday card to send out. It was a big hit with both families! I'm not sure how we'll top that this year, but we'll try.
--Sarah Arad, Forest Hills, New York
For more fun ways to make the holiday extra-magical for your family, click here.