Making memories with your kids is one of the highlights of every holiday season.
From drinking hot cocoa and playing Christmas music while hanging ornaments on a real tree when it's 100 degrees outside to choosing to all pink lights inside and out for December, there are simple, easy, and sometimes inexpensive activities to count that can become tradition during the holidays.
Finding a natural Christmas Tree
It is a tradition for many people to find the perfect real Christmas tree.
If you live in a Northern state, gloves and hats are required though you may be in shorts in the South and may be headed to your local parking lot tree lot or home improvement store.
Simple steps can make this quest more of a tradition.
- Designate a family member to research the different trees available in your area. Use this as an excuse to head to your local library to do a little pre-college style research. Use the internet with supervision.
- Ask extended family to join your adventure if you are headed to an actual local tree farm.
- Load a thermos with hot cocoa to serve on the ride home.
Setting up and decorating the tree
Before bringing home the tree or pulling it out of storage, take a vote and choose the best place in the house. Many folks put up more than one.
(We love to have a natural tree in the living room and a vintage silver tree with a spinning light projector in the den.)
Make setting up the tree special. Consider incorporating a few of the following ideas:
- Set an evening aside. Put away all the phones. Turn off the televisions.
- Put on some Christmas music or say the words, "Alexa, play some Christmas music". Works every time.
- Warm apple cider with mulling spices a couple of hours before you begin in a crock pot.
- Plan a beverage for the adults. Consider a cranberry juice mimosa with a sugar rim, a lovely champagne, or a stout beer. Go retro with martinis or a perfect margarita.
Not all ornaments come from a store. Join other families who make ornaments every year to make Christmas memorable.
Be sure to name and date all of the handmade creations. They'll become next year's stories.
Make ornaments from:
- Craft kits from a local hobby store or amazon
- This year's school photos
- Popsicles sticks and paint
Take time to tell ornament stories.
Growing up there were always a few special ornaments. Most were glass. Wrap them in tissue paper and keep them in a safe container between seasons. Take photos of them because eventually, they'll break and you'll be glad you did.
Planning a trip, instead of another shot glass or refrigerator magnet, consider picking up an ornament that will become a traditional story.
Choose a theme
Make the theme memorable, something from the year that is important enough or significant enough to create the core around which the family builds their theme.
Setting up a Nativity or two .... or three
For some families, the setting up of the nativity is a family tradition and one that helps to create memories for the kids.
Helping to unpack each item, dusting them off, telling the story of each individual in the nativity and the role they play can be a time-honored memory that sets the mood and tone for Christmas.
We love supporting the Elim Christian Center nativity project that employs local disadvantaged women to sew nativity figures enabling them to improve their lives and those of their families.
Baking Cookies for Friends and Neighbors
Would a Holiday season be complete without the wonderful homemade cookies?
Research family history for favorite cookie recipes or create your own tradition.
We love these simple sugar cookies.
There is always the classic nestle toll house recipe.
There are hundreds, even thousands, of recipes, and some families have their own special way of making even the classics.
Cookie baking and decorating is an activity even small children can help with. Let them help to cut out the cookies, or decorate them and older children can help with mixing and measuring.
Make cookies even if you don't have the time to make them by hand thanks to a wide variety of ready-made mixes and refrigerated dough that can be included in your grocery pickup.
Enjoy them all yourself or make a few extra dozen and give them away to neighbors and friends.
Not as popular as it once was, consider restarting a the tradition of singing carols for friends and neighbors.
Or consider heading to a local retirement community and sing to the residents. No one has to sing exactly on key, smiles and fun are all that's really required.
Choose a menu of songs, print them out and consider practicing for a few minutes before heading out.
Consider distributing candy canes as you go!
Making Christmas Cards
Making homemade Christmas cards is a fun way to not only individualize Christmas for everyone on your list but to allow the creativity of your kids to flow.
You can simplify the process by getting card making kits, which are available at your local craft supply store.
These kits come with everything you need to make a variety of different styles and types of cards. This is a great way to get started if you are just starting out or if you don't have a lot of time.
If you have the time and the patience then your local craft store will have a variety of different supplies to provide you with everything needed for your own design.
What traditions will you start this year?
We hope you are inspired by a few of these ideas. In a world that just seems to get busier and more hectic, slow down and choose one or two traditions to start this year.