Before we get into all my favorite Christmas traditions, here's your reminder to activate your cash back with Ebates. If you are doing ANY online shopping this year, this is going to save you lots of money! It's free and it's my favorite way to find current store promo codes as well as get money back on what I spend.
I'm in love with Christmas and although I haven't checked to make sure, I think Christmas loves me back. Growing up in a low-income single-parent home didn't offer lavish or expensive gifts but maybe that's why I love it so much! I usually went into Christmas with low expectations as a kid but it always proved its magic. Christmas to me is about family, it's about fun traditions, and its about celebrating the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Anyway, right now I want to talk about some fun Christmas traditions because they are one of my favorite aspect of Christmas! Make sure and read the comments, some of you have shared some really awesome traditions!
This is a super fun Christmas Tradition for starting out your holidays. The gist of it? Santa sends a letter to your house asking the kids to help out the North Pole by donating toys they don't need anymore so that there are enough toys to go around this Christmas. Not only does this get your kids involved in the true spirit of Christmas, but it helps you to declutter and get rid of things you don't need, before bringing new toys into the home. My husband's rule at our house is, “for everything you buy, you have to get rid of at least two things.” He hates having too much “stuff.”
Christmas Kindness Elves.
A fun alternative to “Elf on the Shelf” that focuses on doing kind things for someone every day leading up to Christmas. You need to order this one early so it ships on time!
Christmas Treasure Map This is a fun scavenger hunt that leads the kids to a new Christmas activity each day leading up to Christmas. You can customize it however you like! If you are giving a vacation for Christmas, make sure and check out all the best Black Friday Travel Deals (Includes Cyber Monday).
CHRISTMAS STALKER: In our family every year we draw names and whoever has our name is called our “Christmas Stalker” meaning you should “stalk” the family member you have to find out what gift would be most meaningful for them to receive. Another reason we were called “stalkers” is because our gift was to fit in a stocking….large or small…bought or made.
We had themes every year; sometimes the gift had to be handmade, sometimes it had to be from the classifieds or a yard sale, sometimes it had to be something we already had, and sometimes it was purchased but had a spending limit (usually $10 which resulted in all of us watching the Amazon Lightning deals to see who could find the best deal for $10).
See my previous post for a fun Christmas Stocking Tradition, as well as some ideas for stocking stuffers!
CHILDREN'S CHRISTMAS TREE: A few years back I babysat for someone who had a neat Christmas tradition and I have decided to carry it on in my own little family. They had a separate “mini” tree for the kids that they were welcome to decorate and re-decorate over and over.
Underneath the tree were Christmas books all wrapped up. Each night the children got to pick a present to open and they read that book as a family that night.
This tradition kept the kids from messing with the decorations on the larger tree because they had their own, and it also kept them from getting into the presents under the big tree because they got to open one everyday from their own tree anyway. The books she put under the tree weren't all Christmas books either–some were holiday books, some were silly books, and some were children's books that teach life lessons.
I saw on Pinterest the other day a kid's tree using felt. I didn't really want one on my wall, so I made my own version using a 28″ safety cone that I bought off Amazon. I wanted something that I could use year after year and that wouldn't fall apart. When Christmas is over, I can store the felt tree with my Christmas stuff, and put the orange cone in the garage. See my post Toddler Felt Tree Tutorial for more instructions.
Texts From Santa This one is REALLY popular year after year, and for good reason. You sign up for Santa to send your kids personalized text messages for the days leading up to Christmas, and then on Christmas morning you get a picture “catching” him in your living room by the tree! Here are some new features I am excited about this year:
> New storyline, photos and games for the 2016 season
> Different storyline versions for multiple children per household
> Choose the time of day texts are sent
> Includes 3 custom texts for parents
> Santa selfie sent on Christmas morning
MATCHING CHRISTMAS PAJAMAS: (JUST FOUND THIS: DEAL ON MATCHING CHRISTMAS JAMMIES) I know of many families that do this one and have decided to do it myself. On Christmas eve, there is a knock at the door and Santa's elves secretly leave new Christmas pajamas for everyone.
Gingerbread Village and Hot Cocoa: For me, it's just not Christmas season without decorating gingerbread with the kids. Make up some of this homemade hot cocoa (make it once and then you have a pre-made mix for the rest of the season), and make a gingerbread village as a family!
SANTA'S FOOTPRINTS: Growing up I loved to go over to my best friend's house on Christmas morning to see Santa's “footprints”. A cookie sheet with flour was left at the fireplace so that in the morning the kids could run to the fireplace and see that Santa really did come because his “boot prints” were imprinted in the flour. Very cute tradition.
MAGIC REINDEER DUST: Leave carrots or oats outside for Santa's Reindeer. Leave whoppers or chocolate covered raisins on the ground so that the kids can see proof that the reindeer have been in the yard! Here are a few printables for Magic Reindeer Dust Poems.
PUTTING CHRIST IN CHRISTMAS Each year on mothernsiche.com, we try and give you some fun and creative ideas for celebrating the true meaning of Christmas. This year, we have given TONS of fun ideas to go along with the #LIGHTtheWORLD initiative. You will definitely want to participate with your family this year. Check it out here: Light the World Challenge.
SLEEP OVER: Another fun tradition is to have all of the kids have a sleepover in one room and know that they can stay up as late as they want together watching Christmas movies and playing games, but they have to stay in the room (usually the furthest room from the Christmas tree so they don't over hear “Santa”). This also keeps them up late and makes them tired, hopefully keeping them from waking up mom and dad at 4 AM.
CHINESE: I have a friend whose family goes out for Chinese in their Christmas pajamas every Christmas Eve. Christmas traditions like this are fun because the kids look forward to it every year and the pictures are priceless. This wouldn't have to be Chinese, you could adapt it to your own family's preference.
SANTA vs. PARENTS: I really, really like the idea of marking most of your children's gifts from mom and dad, and having one special gift be the gift that Santa brings. This way children don't feel entitled to a bunch of toys from a magical being and they learn the principle of gratitude.
The magic isn't taken away because Santa still comes, but they know to ask for one special item they would like from Santa, and the rest comes from mom and dad if they are able to do so. This way you don't have to always wrap presents in such secrecy either.
It doesn't ruin “Santa” if kids walk in on you wrapping presents because they know that they get gifts from you as well.
Christmas Trip. Several families have the tradition of giving a family vacation for Christmas instead of “things.” Here's a fun printable ticket template for surprising a trip.
REINDEER NAMES: This is a fun way of tagging Christmas gifts. Rather than put the child's name on each present, assign each child a reindeer name. This keeps the children from running to the tree and pulling out all the presents with their name on it because until present opening starts, no one knows who's nickname is “Dasher” or who is “Prancer.”
HALLMARK CHRISTMAS MOVIES. This is one of my FAVORITE Christmas traditions. Hallmark christmas movies bring that feel-good Christmas spirit that makes the holidays so great. They do a Christmas countdown starting in October, with Christmas movies every day! If you have the Hallmark channel, you can see the Hallmark Christmas Movie Schedule here, or if you have an Amazon account, see our post on all the Hallmark Movies you Can Watch on Amazon (many for free)
SERVICE: Although it sometimes happened a few days before Christmas, my mom would usually try to arrange a service for us to accomplish on Christmas morning to help us understand the true meaning of Christmas. Sometimes this was volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting an old folks home, playing “secret santa” to another family, or singing to a group of kids with special needs.
These were always tender and special moments that made my Christmas memorable. See an entire list of ideas for Christmas kindness (and free printables here): Fun Ways to have a Christ-centered Christmas
GIFT FOR JESUS: We did this one several different years. We would write up a gift that we were going to give to the Savior over the next year and put it inside of an ornament. The next year we would read what we wrote and hopefully smile that we accomplished our goal. Use our free Gift For Jesus printable.
NATIVITY: My mother always did some type of Christmas Eve “devotional”, and part of it usually consisted of us dressing up and acting out the story of Christ's birth from the book of Luke. Now that a lot of us are older, the grandchildren now act out the story. You could also make nativity gingerbread houses!
I enjoy falling in love with new Christmas traditions and making them my own because family traditions are extremely important for family unity. Traditions contribute to healthy family life because they give children a sense of belonging–that they are part of a group rather than a solitary individual.
What are some of your family's favorite Christmas traditions?
Also…..if you have children, help other parent's out this upcoming holiday season by sharing what toys have been the biggest hit over the years. Share your thoughts on my post here