Suzanne’s Rules for Christmas

My love of Christmas is SO INCREDIBLY STRONG it can actually make me kind of Scroogish. I just like my traditions to be the SAME every year. That’s why they’re TRADITIONS. You know those books that list all the questions you and your partner should discuss before getting married? “What kind of lights go on the house?” should be NUMBER ONE. Otherwise you might end up shouting at each other over colored vs. white vs. blinky lights. Not that we would do that – I married within my own Christmas rules.

The house can't even CONTAIN all the Christmas, which makes the front porch Holiday Central.

1. Colored lights go on the tree/in the house. White lights go on the outside of the house. NO EXCEPTIONS. And absolutely no blinking.

Outside lights are hard to see during daytime photos, but they are white.

Tree = colored lights

Colored lights on the banister seemed like a good idea, until the toddler tried to throw himself down the stairs to see them.

2. Ornaments are meant to be collected over many years, so when you eventually become a grown up and have your own tree you have your own treasured ornaments. None of this a different-theme-for-each-year bs with all green or all red or whatever. And for the love of tiny Christmas Baby Jesus, LABEL them.

3. REAL TREE. Best when cut down one’s self in the freezing cold but any real tree is still ok. I will consider exceptions for allergies, but only with a doctor’s note.

We have this same photo (minus 1 belly and 1 toddler) for the last 5 years. I'm "helping" while E cuts it down.

4. Stockings shall contain: candy, socks, Chapstick, fruit. Amended to include pistachios, per E’s request. Additional items are welcome but the above are non-negotiable.

5. One (1) present may be opened on Christmas Eve, especially if it contains holiday themed pajamas/clothes to wear to candlelit service.

6. Speaking of presents, unless they are from Santa they go under the tree as they are wrapped/received so there is plenty of time for shaking and guessing.

Despite the late state in getting this place all Christmasy, we’re in pretty good shape. All the rules have been followed and if I were to go into labor right now I’d have a lovely, well-lit, pine-smelling house to bring my holiday baby home to. None of our relatives will get their gifts until February (I am DREADING the trip to the post office) but hey, we’ve got our own gifts wrapped and ready!

Now, who wants to fight over real vs. fake trees?

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38 Responses to “Suzanne’s Rules for Christmas”

  1. molly says:

    So pretty!!!

    And don’t hate me, but I just can’t kill a tree and sleep at night. Yep, I’m one of THOSE people.

    Fake is where it’s at for us.

    • Natalie says:

      Ahh, the colorful vs. white light debate. We had that in our house. It was our only bone of contention. I was on the side of white lights, Bill likes the colorful ones. No blinkies. BUT I finally saw the (colorful) lights and realized that they are more fun.

      We also have colorful lights outside…(though I don’t disagree with your white light rule).

      I love how you label your ornaments! I usually use a sharpie and write on the bottom or on the box it came in (which I try to keep as often as possible). I hope the girls will appreciate my obsessive labeling one day.

      What is your stance on Santa presents? Wrapped or not? My Santa wraps in green and red paper (unless it is a huge present) because they don’t have time for fancy paper at the North Pole. I probably should work on my explanation.

      • Natalie says:

        Hmm, that’s weird, I didn’t mean to reply to Molly’s comment. Silly Internets!

      • bebehblog says:

        To be honest, I am DREADING the whole Santa thing. It’s going to be so inconvenient to have to buy and hide presents without a child noticing – I didn’t even THINK about the separate wrapping paper from the North Pole. Ugh. I would say definitely wrapped, but I don’t think it matters what they’re wrapped in. I like your reasoning though.

        • Natalie says:

          So far, we’ve gotten by on closets in boxes and under beds. The big kitchen is in the garage under a tarp and Olivia walks RIGHTNEXTTOIT every morning to get into the van and I am petrified she’s going to lift it up. I’m thinking in the future we will have to become more creative, because my sister and I were notorious for finding gifts before Christmas, but never until after we knew the truth about Santa (and by truth, I mean TOTALLY REAL :) ) My mom always wrapped in red and green paper, and she said it was because she never wanted us to recognize it from a store (since red&green is so generic it could be from ANYWHERE) And she was right, we never were able to say “Hey! I saw that snowman paper at Target, Santa didn’t bring that present!”

    • Brigid Keely says:

      Fake trees are like plunging a night-soil-laden dagger directly into the earth’s heart, between the material of the trees, transporting them, the fact that they aren’t recyclable, etc. We’re currently In Discussion about next year’s tree. We have a (gross ass) fake tree that I would like to retire/give to someone and would like to move into getting a cut tree (cut trees, unless you wander into someone’s private property/forest preserve, are planted and grown especially to be cut and are replaced after with a sapling that will grow to be cut down again) but my husband’s Eastern Orthodox and doesn’t celebrate Christmas until Jan 7th, which is AFTER the city picks up trees for recycling. Actually, what I would like to do is what my family did when I was a kid, and get a tree with a root ball and plant it afterwards. But our front yard is the size of a pocket handkerchief and we have no place to plant it. Also my husband grew up with a fake tree and wants to get a “really really nice one” which we can store and not have to worry about shedding needles, mulching it, etc. Which, if they weren’t so harmful for the environment, I’d be more amenable to.

      Pre-lit (high quality) fake trees just look so very nice, y’know?

  2. themanager says:

    such a cute post! how perfectly perfect that you are having a Christmas baby girl!

  3. Nicole says:

    I’m with you on the real tree, though sometimes we have to be pragmatic about where we get it. Still no tree here yet! Too much sick/travel/small baby around to have found the time. I may go tomorrow.

  4. becca says:

    haha, i love this post. so matter-of-fact! we have a fake tree. because it doesn’t cost us something every. single. year. & because we have cats (5) that like to climb said tree. add in a real tree and we’d have a big ‘ol mess. (how do you keep the pup from drinking the water?)

    & i’m too chicken to place wrapped presents under the tree this year until christmas eve. the curious toddler would most likely have them all unwrapped before christmas!

    (but, we did discuss a real tree next year. we’d move the fake one upstairs to the playroom area and put the real one downstairs. we’ll see how we feel about all of that again this time next year…) by the way, the decorations are lovely; shoot some photos at night so we can see the outside all lit up!

  5. I grew up with mostly a fake tree. We HATED going to get real trees because my mom would spend hours looking for a tree that had the perfect spot to showcase Miss Mousie, her beloved ornament. Miss Mousie later died in a fire.

    I agree on the no blinky lights. One of my hugest pet peeves is outdoor blinking lights that blink horribly our of sync.

    I would also like to add sloppy icicle lights to the don’t like. Hate them.

  6. Other Erin says:

    You forgot a rule. Cookies must be homemade and the lowest acceptable ratio is 3 dozen cookies: 1 person.

  7. Alison says:

    I agree with you 100%. Well, 99.9%, we are an all white lights family. But other than that, I’m with you…real tree, one gift on Christmas Eve, presents under the tree, all of it.

  8. raincheckmom says:

    Our post office has an automated postal center which allows you to weigh the package and print the label and pay for the postage without standing in line for the postal worker to do it for you. VERY convenient, especially since it is in the lobby which is always open…so when the parking gets crazy I can go before or after the regular business hours. I highly recommend it if you have one in your area.

    • bebehblog says:

      Mom, you’ve seen my town. Do you THINK we’re fancy enough for something like that? The main post office doesn’t even have handicap access let alone anything as convenient as an automated scale.

  9. Barbra says:

    Growing up in Ohio we had a fake tree every year. Since moving to OR, it has to be a real tree. Christmas tree farming is practically OR’s biggest commodity – sort of like what corn is to the midwest. Go to a farm though, going into the mountains is highly overrated. Battling yuppies with subarus who can’t drive in the snow, snowshoeing an unknown (usually long) distance into the woods to cut down an uneven, scraggly, wild douglas fir. It’s really not as romantic as it sounds, even if there is hot chocolate waiting at the car.

  10. Krista says:

    Um.. I would like to know: How do you keep the toddler away from the gifts under the tree? And I have to be honest. Pre-lit fake trees that you can just throw a sheet over and stash in the basement (we do take the ornaments off) year after year is way too good of a convenience to pass up. I’ll burn a pine scented candle. ;-)

    • bebehblog says:

      We have two halves of our house – the formal half and the living half, separated by gates. Since having Little Evan the tree goes in the formal half, which means although we don’t get to admire it while we watch TV it is mostly safe from curious toddlers. Plus the formal living room is the front of the house, so you can see the tree lights when you drive past. I love love love that.

  11. Audrey says:

    Putting socks in a sock is funny. :D Ev’s getting underwear in his stocking this year. Oh the Christmas joy we will share when he opens his sparkly package and discovers Thomas the Tank Engine pantaloons!

  12. sarrible says:

    Hey, I see the presents I sent! That’s awesome.

    I am very rigid about Christmas traditions, which are less about decorating and more about food/activities, but my family is less so. It makes me angry when they deviate. Like the year we went SKIING at CHRISTMAS. NO.

  13. raincheckmom says:

    I just check USPS and you don’t have an Automated Postal Center near you! Bummer….

  14. Kim says:

    I agree with all of your rules, but hubby and I didn’t agree on just about all of them. I won with the real tree & the white lights outside. We “compromised” by putting white & colored lights on the tree (which isn’t really a compromise because they just look like colored lights, but don’t tell him that). And he got his way with the stockings; I have to wrap EVERYTHING that goes inside them- which for us always includes candy and a new toothbrush. Our tree is in the living room, and JD has already tried to guess a few gifts by jumping on them. Oh well.
    A side note- my parents got new neighbors, and they have blinky lights that play loud, awful computerized Christmas music. My mom is ready to move! haha

  15. Cole says:

    I *love* this post. Mommy is similarly stubborn unbending passionate about her traditions. Luckily Daddy is pretty easy-going – although there WAS a fight their first year of marriage over what kind of lights to put on the (real) tree. Mommy likes colored lights, but not MULTI-colored – so we have red strands. DEFINITELY not blinking!

    Daddy thinks it’s a little odd that his Jewish wife has so many Christmas rules.

    Oh, and we always have an orange in the toe of our stocking, and batteries in there, too.

  16. Connie says:

    I could definitely live by your Christmas rules (and the one about the cookies!) and we actually do most of them. My husbands family always filled their stockings with bathroom goodies and those $1.00 bathroom samles sized thing so we do that. And unfortunately we have converted to a fake tree ar years ago and I am hoping to go back to cutting one down and getting hot cocoa tradition I grew up with! I started opening a present on Christmas eve with CJ. It is always a pair of festive pj’s that santa leaves at the back door for he and Brody. Now I need to decide if they get matchy matchy pj’s or different ones.

  17. Sarah says:

    You’re a white lights girl after my own heart! :)

  18. Brigid Keely says:

    I think we’re pretty much twins when it comes to OMGCHRISTMAS!!!!!!!. I need to get some photos up about Christmas at our house.

    I came out of the bathroom the other morning and Niko ran up to me all proud. “Ball! BALL!” he exclaimed, handing me ornaments from the tree which he had harvested himself. We need to get a gate up across the sunroom. Right now there’s two big chairs blocking the tree from him and IT IS NOT FESTIVE.

    Super glad I only put non-breakable ornaments on the tree.

  19. Leah says:

    I am firmly on the white lights on the tree side of things but I have warmed up to the colored ones a tad. As long as they are hung properly and the colors are variegated enough, no large chunks of one color.

    Normally, I would say real tree but I have had the fake one for three years now. Since I once spent an evening out with friends not speaking to my husband over a tree blowout, it’s been my sole duty ever since. (I may have broken down crying because he wasn’t taking it seriously enough.) As such, at 8 months pregnant with Calder I had no interest in hanging the tree lights in accordance with my exacting standards and bought myself a fake tree. HOWEVER, I think we have finally had it long enough to justify the exorbitant price I paid for the giantest lit tree I could buy so next year it’s going to be a real tree. And maybe also the fake tree because I have A TON of ornaments. Not labeled though. I mostly let Hallmark do that for me but I do have an uncanny ability to remember where I got them from.

  20. It’s scary how much we have in common. Really.

  21. raincheckmom says:

    I figured you probably did not have a APC…but thought maybe some of your readers did…even so I had to make 2 trips to the post office today due to using a flat rate postal box – only to find out it was going to cost me $15 to send to Rochester! I re-packaged and did it for $6.

    • sarrible says:

      There are three APCs at my post office. Of course, my post office is Grand Central Station. I love it, it’s like an ATM for the post office.

  22. You are hilarious…in a ‘those are really smart rules’ kinda way. Your house is so adorable and totally festive…and you are a really adorable pregnant lady…I mean…you are too cute!

  23. I would have a real tree if my face would let me. But it doesn’t. I’m obsessed with Christmas, but extremely allergic to Christmas trees. Go figure.

    • Brigid Keely says:

      Booo! My godmother’s husband had the same problem, kind of. He was allergic to certain pollens IN GENERAL and they would collect in the pines of the tree, but he wasn’t allergic to actual pine trees. How weird is that? Oh, human bodies!

  24. bellegourmande says:

    This post is fantastic! By labeling your ornaments, you mean that you have tags on each one indicating year purchased? If so, wow, that is really impressive! I definitely don’t do that.

    I love Christmas too, and my vote is for real trees all the way. Sometime in my childhood my mom stopped getting real trees because she’s allergic, but since I’ve had a place of my own I always get a real one. I love the smell.

    Speaking of moms, yours is adorable! Thanks for the tip re: APCs. I’m sure Seattle must have at least one, I will check it out. What a great idea!

    I wish I lived near you, Suzanne, so I could drive by at night and see how great your house looks, all lit up for Christmas.

  25. Stephanie T says:

    I am in love your Christmas rules and totally agree that it should be one of those things that you ask before you get married. If my husband ever even whispers the word blinky when he refers to Christmas lights we will have muy problemos!

  26. […] be the practical sock and sweater giver in the family. Besides, I rock at stockings. Even Suzanne, the Christmas Tsar,  would approve, except our must list includes: chapstick, pens, gum and post-it […]

  27. […] Suzanne, over at Bebehblog has set the bar when it comes to the Rules of Christmas. I am not going to repeat any of it, because, basically we agree (well, I have colored lights […]

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