Walker Hayes Shares His Sweet Family Christmas Traditions

”There’s a lot of gratitude at our house at Christmas.”

Walker Hayes

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Walker Hayes has had a very eventful few years. You may have heard about a little ditty called “Fancy Like?” That song hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart and it stayed there for a whopping 24 weeks! The ode to date nights at Applebees even made No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and was nominated for a Grammy for best country song in 2021. Hayes has proved he’s no one-hit-wonder with follow up hits “AA,” “Y’all Life,” and “High Heels.” Fans are flocking in droves to see his shows from coast to coast. Life is good for Walker Hayes.

But he can recall a time in the not so distant past where things were very different. As we previously reported, Hayes spent years struggling to break into the music business in Nashville, working at Costco to make ends meet and provide for his wife Laney and their children. In a recent conversation with Southern Living, the father of six told us about how despite the hardships, he and Laney made sure their kids felt joyful at Christmas. 

“One of the most special things we do at Christmas is when Laney and I were struggling money wise, we would go eat at this restaurant in Franklin, Tennessee.  They would have paper on the tables that you could draw on. We had a waitress there that kind of knew us and we would ask her around Christmas if she would give two, six feet long pieces of that paper.” He explained that at the time they couldn’t afford a tree. 

“So we would take that paper home and tape it together. And we would draw our Christmas tree. And then we would hang it on the wall. So each kid basically just drew or cut out stuff and taped it on the tree. We put paper gifts under it. So we have a couple of those rolled up but it remains kind of a tradition for us even though we have a tree now. It just reminds me of sweet times.”

Hayes recalled another moment from that same period of time. “We went to Lowe’s one day and all of my kids wanted a Christmas blow-up. And there was no way we could afford a Christmas blow-up. They’re like a hundred bucks a piece. My daughter Lela was like, ‘dad, can we get a Christmas blow up?’ And I was like ‘no, but how about if Dad ever has a No. 1 hit song, everybody gets a blow up?’ And I just said that to get ‘em off my back. Because it was laughable.”

Little did he know, but he was going to have to pay up on that just a few years later. “Fancy Like” became a bonafide hit and Dad had to pay up. 

“We went to Lowe’s and every kid got to pick out a blow up. And since then, we add one a year. So we just have tons of blow ups. And always before they put them in the yard, they put them in the house.”

Success  has finally hit the Hayes household and it is inflating Christmas cheer, but not egos. 

“We’re only like 2 Christmases in where Laney and I aren’t stressing about how much it costs to give kids gifts. So Laney and I, we spend a lot of our time, we already have, just kinda of looking around. It is nice to have financial relief. I know that’s not the end all be all, but to say to my kids, you know, reasonably what would you like for Christmas and then go, yeah we can swing a new pair of shoes. I mean it sounds stupid but we’re still new enough in that phase of life where it’s like Laney and I sit around and are so grateful.”

He continued, “the fact that we get to do it while I have a job that I love, every night is like Christmas to us as far as the gifts are concerned. We’re always together and people show up at these shows. So there’s a lot of gratitude at our house at Christmas.”

While Hayes, who defines himself as a new Believer, does try to anchor their holiday in teachings from the Bible, he said that they will read The Christmas Story and whether his kids fully take that in right now or not, he said that’s okay. “I just try to love on ‘em best I can.” 

He then joked that his birthday is December 27, so right after Christmas ends, he tries to swing the family into the party zone. 

Happy birthday, Walker. Pump up those inflatable decorations, Hayes family! You’ve earned it.

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