Double the holiday memories: Celebrating both Hanukkah and Christmas

As in many homes, Jen W.’s family blends traditions and celebrations during December. Jen is the Director of Hallmark’s Visual Trends and Social Media Studios and one of Think.Make.Share’s founders, so it’s no surprise her home life is full of creativity, innovative celebrations, and a whole lot of fun. Read on to see what celebrating both Hanukkah and Christmas looks like in her house.

I’m Jewish, and my husband is Catholic. My family celebrated Hanukkah when I was growing up. We did seven presents instead of eight because we always donated a present. We received one “big” one, and the rest were the “fillers.” My extended family came over for the first night of Hanukkah, and my mom always made the latkes. We played the dreidel game and spent time together. My sister and I asked our parents if we could set up a “Hanukkah bush” in our house. We got the same response every year: “When you have your own place, you can celebrate any way you want.”

The first Christmas that I spent with Nick was like a storybook Christmas—the Christmas I dreamed of when I was growing up. The presents were overflowing, and the house was filled with wonderful scents. They had 12 different kinds of cookies and a wonderful wood-burning fire. I liked this holiday. A lot.

When we had children, Nick and I knew that we’d have to figure out ways to incorporate both religions and both of our traditions. Nick and I are not religious at all, but our cultures are very important to us. So this is how we celebrate the holidays: I start decorating the house right after Halloween. I know it seems too early, but I love the way my house feels and looks with holiday decor. I like to enjoy it as long as I can.

We have four trees. The main one is in the living room right by the fire. It has all of our memories throughout the years represented on that tree: My first ornament, 11 different firetruck Keepsake Ornaments for all the years Nick and I have been together (Nick is a firefighter), seven Santa photos, our wedding ornament, and my collection of owl ornaments.

Rowan (2 years old) and Maddox (7 years old) each have their own tree. Their trees have reminders of trips we took, movies they loved, and their favorite books. Each year I buy the kids a new Hallmark Keepsake Ornament. The big one this year was Elsa from Frozen.

I also have a baking tree. My mother-in-law and I share a love of baking (she’s way better than me), and every year we try to find each other the best baking ornament to give each other.




This is how we celebrate Hanukkah: Maddox and I do the Hanukkah blessings in Hebrew. He knows them now and likes to light the candles and say the blessings on his own. I wrap the presents differently than our Christmas presents, but they still coordinate. We do not put Hanukkah presents under the Christmas tree. We always have a Hanukkah party where we invite family and friends to celebrate with us. I make my mom’s latkes and some of my favorite Hanukkah recipes, and the kids exchange gifts. I’m the only one in my friend group in the Midwest who’s Jewish, so I enjoy introducing my traditions to my friends…and now to their kids. My kids also shop with me to pick out a gift to be donated, just like I did growing up. I think it’s really important to teach kids to give at the holidays (and all year long).




We celebrate Christmas with Nick’s family on Christmas Eve. We get together for a fabulous, indulgent meal, and we exchange gifts with each other. We go back to our own houses and leave cookies and a special handmade craft out for Santa. The kids wake up in the morning, and I make a bunch of casseroles and hot cocoa, and we open presents.

I love the holidays and I love how we celebrate them!




How do you celebrate your holidays? Tag us on Instagram (@think.make.share) to share your traditions, parties, quiet moments and more with us.

All photos by Hallmark photographer Jane Kortright


Leave a Comment

  1. 12.19.14 | Reply
    Marc Gambardella wrote:

    Great article, Jen! And amazing photos! Your kids are going to have one of the best family memory books ever!

  2. 11.30.18 | Reply

    Thank you for sharing your story of 2 celebrations. We have Chanukahmas? 3 2 Christmas trees, and one Chanukah tree, white one with blue and silver ornaments, 2 Chanukahkia.Love of family and reaching back to our long gone but not forgotten families, and Traditions.

  3. 11.30.18 | Reply
    Laura wrote:

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful traditions! I love it!!!

  4. 11.30.18 | Reply
    Anniedear Chappell wrote:

    I’ve been a Hallmark Crown Member since the first day it was a ‘thing’. I have outlasted many Hallmark Stores and Stationary stores over the years, but I won’t move into a town that does not have a Hallmark Store. Now, since finding out I am mostly Jewish, by DNA, I find myself missing out during the holidays for Jewish Holiday celebration decor’. Things I’d like to see: Hanukah glasses, Tithe boxes (Tzedakah Box), Electric/lighted Menorah’s – different sizes, Mezuzah’s, Tree of Life items, Dreidel with stands, Star of David Pendant charms, for example. I have always known I was Jewish from very young. My family was Atheist. Turns out my Atheist family was no relation to my bio line. I’ve still not found them. Celebrating like you do, I am more happy and grateful for the dual celebrations. Thank you, Jen Walker!

    • 11.30.18 | Reply
      Trish B. wrote:

      Thanks so much for commenting—we’ll make sure Jen sees your kind note! You’ll find an expanded collection of Hanukkah gifts (and wrap!) on this year. Follow this link for beautiful Menorahs, serving bowls and trays, a Star of David Tzedakah Box, and more by our fabulous Tree of Life team. Wishing you a Hanukkah bright with joy! —Trish

  5. 12.4.18 | Reply
    Irene Jumawan wrote:

    Thank you Jen for sharing your Christmas & Hanukkah celebrations with your family and friends. I just came back from a trip to Israel and felt and learned the true meaning of Christmas and Hanukkah. I am blessed. GOD bless.