It’s that time of year again. Jack Frost nips at our noses. Twinkling lights appear on every house and street sign as we rush out in pursuit of the perfect gifts. Bing Crosby serenades us through distant speakers as warm feelings defrost us quicker than the hot cocoa permanently attached to our palms. We string garland, our children create wish lists, and stockings hang by the chimney with care.
The true spirit of Christmas does not lie within these things themselves, but in the way we choose to partake in them. Usually, through the means of tradition.
Traditions are part of what make holidays so unbelievably special to families. They create wonderful memories that will be forever cherished. From small to extravagant, simple to intricate, traditions add meaningful moments to the holiday. They also provide something to look forward to each year.
As someone whose childhood was rich with seasonal tradition, I feel it greatly important to carry it on with my daughter and family. I have complied a list of traditions to start this year! There’s a mix of experiences from my childhood, stories from other friends and family members, and new ideas I would like to try myself!
1. Pick a New Ornament Each Year
We did this as kids. I still have my little collection and it is very fun to look back and share stories of vacations or favorite cartoons with my own family now. Did your child start a new activity this year? Or have their first field trip? Did you score a new job? Ornaments are a fun way to cherish those milestones!
2. Make Something
My extended family did a homemade gift exchange a few years back, where all presents had to be made by the giver. We received the most meaningful surprises! Another year, we all designed and sewed felt stockings together. Making memories and keepsakes at the same time? It doesn’t get better! So, make salt dough ornaments or hand-crafted cards for neighbors. Just pick a family project and get creating!
3. Attend a Community Event
Attending local events helps build community, while supporting the local businesses and organizations behind the events. Choose an event you can enjoy as a family! Brownie points if you can shop local artisans or donate an item to help people in need while you’re in attendance!
When we give to others, it helps strengthen our gratitude. We appreciate what we have more, when we witness others do without. Choose an angel from an angel tree or drop an item in the Toy for Tots box. Choose hats for the homeless or cans for a food drive and get the kiddos involved! Allow them to pick something out and go with you to drop it off.
5. Plan a Family Game Night
One year, I organized a Christmas themed Minute-To-Win-It game tournament. Pinterest offers plenty of ideas, tips, and even printable options for scoring and challenges. Plus, most game set up only requires household odds and ends. A friend of mine organizes a Bingo tournament with her family where she wraps up small mystery gifts to be selected as prizes. If you opt for something simpler, you can honestly never go wrong with your favorite board games and a surplus of cookies!
6. Pillow Mints
One Christmas, my daughter, too young to have any concept of time, kept asking if it was Christmas yet. Finally, I blurted out that when it was Christmas morning, there would be a candy cane on her pillow. That Christmas Eve, I laid candy canes out on everyone’s pillow, even one on the dog’s bed. She was so excited to discover them all the next morning that I will keep on doing it year after year!
7. Ding Dong Ditch
Nothing really brings the magic of Christmas home like a surprise showing up on your door step with no explanation of how it got there. Gather up spare cash. Buy some Christmas candy, warm blankets, or gift cards. Pick up a Christmas ham or a few extra toys. Simply do what you feel you can, take it to the home of someone in need, ring the doorbell and run away.
8. Look at Lights: Polar Express Style
Get the children into their pajamas. Mix up some hot chocolate. Send your husband outside to shout ‘all aboard’ at the top of his lungs. Then load everyone in and drive around looking at Christmas lights!
Pick a cause and volunteer to serve others in our community.
10. Put on a Performance
As young children, my cousins and I would practice magic tricks and make up jokes or skits to perform after Christmas dinner. My grandparents adored this so much, the adults started getting involved and productions grew more elaborate with time. We’ve acted out How the Grinch Stole Christmas, versions of The Wizard of Oz, and skits from the The Muppet Show. There have also been shameless Elvis impersonations, men in a bit of drag, a thousand mishaps, and even more unforgettable memories. Do it big or small, this is hands down my favorite holiday tradition!
11. Write Christmas Letters to Your Kids
Each year after she’s wrapped the gifts, my aunt sits down and writes letters to all of her kids. She reflects of the previous year of their lives, both the good and bad. She writes how much they mean to her and signs her love. Then she addresses each envelope and places them on the tree. A wonderful and cherished tradition in their family.
‘Tis the season to be together, have fun, and spread some good into the world! Whether you are wanting to shake things up this year or are just laying the ground work for family traditions, I hope this list inspires some meaningful moments in addition to beloved memories!
Wishing you and yours a Happy Christmas!
We want to know, what are your favorite holiday traditions? Please share with us!