I’ve been married for about 8 years now. Each year I have struggled to develop my own holiday traditions. Now that I have a 2-year-old, it seems that it is getting easier and more exciting. So as this year comes around my head is teeming with ideas not just from my own brain but from Pinterest. As I think about what Christmas will look like for my family, I start looking back on my own past. To be truthful I can’t really tell you off the top of my head any of the toys I got as a kid. Maybe my Sega Genesis?
Other than that, when I think about Christmas my mind ventures back to specific traditions more than gifts. This post isn’t meant to sway you from buying gifts or saying that gifts are wrong cause I’m sure as heck going out Black Friday. What I’m saying is that I think it’s more valuable in some ways to invest your time and energy more in tradition than worrying so much about getting your kid the ultimate gift. Those suckers will be broken, played with or forgotten by February anyway. So without further ado, I’ve compiled a list of Christmas tradition ideas that you can consider intentionally doing with your kids this year and maybe every year after. I hope they will inspire you to try things that bring you closer as a family as well as make the holiday’s more memorable.
1. Bake Your Favorite Goodies
- Take a moment and close your eyes. Have a flashback moment in your brain to holiday baking at your house as a kid.
- What smells immediately come to mind?
- Consider introducing your spouse or children to your favorite childhood dessert. If you’re a sugar or wheat free kind of family, check out Pinterest for amazing alternatives to your classic favorites.
- Mine is actually several things because my mom was really into baking for gifts. First of all I loved chocolate covered pretzels. Secondly, I loved chocolate covered peanut butter cracker sandwiches. Last, I loved her home-made fudge. So when I picture a joyful childhood memory during the holidays, those are the tastes and smells I experience. I want to bring a taste of old traditions to my home, while also finding things my child will like as his own.
2. Watch Your Favorite Movies
- I loved comedy as a kid. My favorite Christmas movie is hands down, “Home Alone 2”. I laughed until I cried watching that movie every year.
- My second favorite was “The Night They Saved Christmas” which is from the 80’s and may have even been made for TV but something about it really made me feel all Christmas like.
- My two-year old is a little young for “Home Alone” movies so I’m positive that we will be watching “Tales” as he calls it AKA Veggie Tales Christmas movies and some kind of Curious George Christmas movie.
- Pick movies you love that you kids would like and try to make a family night out of it.
- Special Movie Snack: One special touch could be to make some red and green popcorn with your kids. Check out the Yummy Life Blog for the recipe!
3. Advent Calendars
- I had an advent calendar that hung on the wall. It had little pockets with the date on it and a little tiny fabric mouse that fit just right into the pockets.
- I couldn’t wait to move that mouse every day, inching my way closer Christmas.
- You can buy one, you can make one, or you can even do a count down but these are great ways to build anticipation to the big day!
- If you want some fresh new ideas, check out my re-pins from other brilliant people- Advent Pinterest Board.
4. Trim The Tree Together
- I distinctly remember loving to help my mom trim the tree. We never had a real tree when I lived at home. I think much of the appeal came with the fact that many of our ornaments were sentimental in some way.
- My mom would tell me lots of stories as she pulled out each ornament. For example we had lots of fragile little bells to hang. They were the bells from her wedding cake. The bells from her wedding cake led to other great stories every year.
- We didn’t turn on the television during tree trimming, we simply played holiday music.
- Whatever you trim, whether it be a mini tree, a cactus, a plant or a mantle, take time to make it memorable and share your own childhood Christmas stories with your kids as you do it.
5.Make an Ornament
- Each year since my son’s first Christmas I have made an ornament for him.
- Now that he can be involved we will make one together this year.
- I hope that he makes one each year and by the time he grows up and gains his own family, he can trim his own tree with memories from his childhood.
6. Read the Bible
- A tradition that I remember as a kid was always reading the history of Joseph, Mary and Jesus. We always did this on Christmas Eve before opening any gifts.
- It was just to be sure that intentionally took a moment to remember the true reason our family was celebrating the season.
- We also said a prayer thanking God for the greatest gift in history!
- I plan to to do the same with my kids except that we will probably incorporate the “Little People” Singing Manger Scene in the retelling.
7. Give Your Kids a Giving Budget
- I remember being around 6 years old when my mom started taking me to the local dollar store with $10 in my hand.
- The store was my oyster.
- I could pick out whatever 10 gifts I wanted to buy to have to wrap up and give to my family members.
- It was very exciting for me to have this freedom and a chance to give.
- Consider giving your own kids a little budget for giving.
- Take them to a store and teach them about giving, budgeting and maybe even donating.
- You could make one or more of the items they pick out a gift to give to your local battered women’s shelter, toys for tots or any number of other things.
8. Drive Around and See Christmas Lights
- On inexpensive family activity is loading up in a car or van and taking a tour of some of the best lights in your town or community!
- Don’t forget to bring along some spill proof cups of hot cocoa or coffee.
- Talk to your kids about what their favorite ones are and why. If they like a particular house, drive by a time or two so they can see it again.
9. Make It Intentional
- Plan what you want to do on a calendar and don’t let time slip through your fingers. Set a day to make your tradition happen.
- Make time for your traditions when have carved out plenty of time. Example: Don’t try to bake 2 dozen cookies together an hour before the Christmas production at church.
- The goal of your traditions has to be about “quality” not “quantity”.
- Try to carve out times for traditions so that your kid or spouse is getting your best, not what you have left over at the end of the day. This may mean a power nap on a Saturday afternoon before the movie night.
- If Christmas is full of lots of fond memories for you, try weaving those traditions into your adult life. Just because it’s old doesn’t mean it’s out. Your kids will probably love them just as much because the truth is, good traditions are ones that bring parents and kids together. Isn’t that what younger kids want anyway? Just to have focused time with their parent?
- Give your kids some grace. If they are bored out of their minds by your Christmas movie selection, don’t force them to watch it anyway. Take them down to Red Box or hop on Netflix and let them pick out a Christmas movie to watch. It might just be your families new tradition. Many older movies have also been re-made a million times. See if there is a newer version of you old favorite in a format that will keep your kids attention. Then watch yours when they go to bed ;).
Please please please feel free to share any and all your favorite Holiday Traditions in the comments section! I love to see what other amazing traditions people have developed!
Kim Anderson is the organized chaos loving author behind the Thrifty Little Mom Blog. She helps other people who thrive in organized chaos to stress less, remember more and feel in control of their time, money, and home. Kim is the author of: Live, Save, Spend, Repeat: The Life You Want with the Money You Have. She’s been featured on Time.com, Money.com, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Day, and more!