Had any success melding your family's traditions with your spouses? Looking for something that is all yours? Traditions are what we remember about the holidays. In my family it was putting the tree up on Thanksgiving afternoon, baking on December 23rd with my mom. Going to midnight service at church with my dad on Christmas eve. With my daughter, we watched the Grinch every Christmas eve. We chose a child to sponsor to make their Christmas special.
Hello, my name is Anna, and I am addicted to Christmas. One of the most enjoyable experiences of my life was traveling and learning how other countries celebrate the holiday. One of the most fun traditions comes from Chile. At midnight the children all run outside looking for Santa. Shortly after midnight, Santa will come down the street. Sometimes he is on a motorcycle, sometimes on a bicycle. I have seen him in a horse cart and a scooter. Once the children spy Santa they run back home and Santa has magically placed the gifts under the tree. Now seriously, how fun is that?
There are so many fun ways to celebrate and to bring meaning to the holidays. As a Christian, making sure my family understood why we celebrate this holiday was a top priority for my family. It is so easy to get caught up in the commercialism of the holidays The hunt for the perfect gift, the need to make the holiday perfect for our kids becomes a distraction to why we celebrate. Keeping our focus on the significance of the season isn't always easy.
My goal is to help you make the holidays easier. Making the holidays is possible through having a plan. Start early. August is not too early to be preparing for the holidays. So I want to share 10 of my favorite holiday traditions.
1. DECEMBER 1ST: Make a family Christmas Music List. Download each person's favorite Christmas songs. Play the list in the car, at home, and watch your family's eyes light up when their song comes on. The connection of music to our hearts and mind is something almost magical. Our souls have a connection to music that brings calmness, happiness, energy, sadness, peace, and so on. It is powerful and we get to harness it for our family to create wonderful Christmas memories.
2. Christmas Bucket List: Ask each member of the family what they really want to do this holiday season. It can be as easy as build a snowman or as complicated as going skiing and you live on a tropical island. (that would be something my child would request) If they do request something that is just not feasible try a redirect or create a fun silly alternative. (like skiing down a sand dune instead) Make a pretty box or clip the ideas on a special board, but make a designated place to put the bucket list. By doing this each year your family carves out special time to be together and you make magical memories of getting to do favorite activities together.
3. Children's Christmas Tree: A tree where your kids can decorate, take the decorations off, put them back on and do it over and over again. This is a total win-win situation. Our little ones love the tree and want to touch it and move things around. Remember children explore with all of their senses and touch is a huge one. There are several ways to do this. You can find a small tree that they can hang actual ornaments. You can cut out a felt tree and hang it on the wall. Then create felt or flannel ornaments. They can add them and take them off to their heart's content. It gives them a creative outlet. Once a week you can do a family craft and make a new ornament for their tree. Another option is to buy a safety cone and cover it in felt. They can have a 3-D tree that is just as easy as the wall tree to decorate. You can make a felt star or angel to go on top. So many options here. As the children grow older they can transition to decorating their own smaller tree, a four-foot tree is ideal for school-age children.
4. New Ornaments: Begin making or buying a special ornament for each child and gift it early in December. The kids will love seeing their special ornaments on the tree each year. When they are grown and move out they will have a nice start on their own Christmas decorations. There are several ways to do this. One family chooses names and each person has to make a special ornament for the family member whose name they chose. Another chose a theme for the ornaments each year. One year everyone received a forest-themed ornament, the next they received a cartoon-themed one. Be creative. We are not all Martha Stewarts so there is no shame in purchasing ornaments. The most important thing is to make each person feel special. The best part of this is you can get your ornaments done way ahead of time unless you are pulling names and creating or shopping for each other. We did this and I made our ornaments in the middle of summer and put them aside for the holiday.
5. Hot Cocoa and a Christmas Story: This costs next to nothing and your family will look forward to it every year. You can choose to read the same story every year or find a new one each year. The library is a great source for finding new stories. I love to learn about other cultures so in our family we read a story about Christmas in another country. My daughter loves it. Your family will love the time spent together. Make it special and drink your cocoa and read your book while sitting on the floor near the tree. Then turn off the lights and enjoy the tree lights.
6. Christmas Gift for Jesus: This is something your family can plan during the holiday season. The execution can be the family volunteering at a soup kitchen, a church function or even on a mission trip. It could also be a monetary donation where the family saves all their change and gives it later in the year to a church function or organization that helps others. Many types of organizations are available: food pantries, homeless shelters, domestic violence organizations, veterans, pet shelters, literacy, and the list is nearly endless. Choose something that means something to your family. Our family supports domestic violence and adoption organizations as well as our church. The spirit here is to remember that we are celebrating Jesus's birthday and we need to remember him throughout the year and remember to give a gift in his name. You could sponsor a child via an angel tree. The ideas are many, the possibilities exciting.
7. Texts from Santa: Receive daily text messages from Santa. Now, how fun is this? Santa will send a message every day to your family. Some days it will be a greeting, somedays it will be a game, other days it might be a fun photo. The topping on the cake is that on Christmas morning you get a photo of Santa at your house! Combine this service with our Magical Christmas Kit and your kids will be over the top convinced that Santa is real and he has actually visited your house.
8. Advent Calendar: This is a fun way to help the children count down the days until Christmas. There are almost endless ways to make or purchase advent calendars. The ever-popular Elf on the Shelf is an advent activity. We have a wooden Santa with 25 doors in his belly. We put candy in each cubby. Some days they have to go on a mini scavenger hunt to find the candy. I have seen felt wall calendars that you place a Christmas decoration on each square.
My favorite advent activities are theme related. My favorite is Kindness Advent. The children do a kindness themed activity every day for 25 days. Another favorite is an ornament a day. Each day the family makes an ornament. They can keep it or share it. IT keeps the family doing things together and the kids love getting to do a craft a day. Have fun, be creative, and create your own family advent tradition. If you want some ideas or if you want it done for you check out my advent kits at www.santaannas.com
9. Christmas Lights: Drive around your town and look at the decorations and lights. There is something so magical to be out after dark and see all the twinkling lights and amazing displays. I love the ones set to music. I lived in a neighborhood that each street decorated in a particular theme. One street was candy canes and the next was presents and another had reindeer. People drove from all over to walk the streets. It was a magical experience.
10. Christmas Baking Day: There is nothing yummier than Christmas treats. Baking doesn't have to be complicated. You don't even need an oven. You can do no-bake treats. I like to keep things simple. I love cookies but these past few years I have been either ill or crazy busy during the holidays. I have cheated and bought pre-made cookie dough. My family loved it just as much and it was quick and easy. Play that Christmas playlist, blast the tunes, break out the aprons, and bake away. I try to always remember to bake a little extra to give away.
Christmas eve box: Find a pretty box. I found an adorable round Santa themed box at Hobby Lobby for 80% off a few days before Christmas. I fill it with fun for Christmas eve. It is a hard day for the kiddos. They are so anxious for Christmas and it is really hard to wait. This fun box makes the day go by faster. Here are some ideas on how to fill it.
- Christmas Jammies
- Christmas movie
- Christmas craft
- Christmas book
- New socks or slippers
- Christmas scavenger hunt