Now that the holiday season is upon us, I got thinking about all of our traditions we start once the month of December hits. I wanted to compile a list of things that every parent can do with their kiddos without breaking the bank. Some of these traditions are carried over from when I was a young girl and have continued to do with my children, and some are ones we have started in recent years. I’d love to hear your traditions, so leave a comment below to share!
1. Go See Christmas Lights. This activity is one that everyone gets excited about. I mean, what’s not to love about seeing beautifully decorated homes with amazing light displays? You can check your local neighborhoods to see which ones have the best displays, or in colder areas there are drive thru light displays where you get to stay cozy in your car and watch the amazing light shows. There are also many zoos and botanical gardens that have gorgeous lights during the entire Christmas season.
2. Have a Winter Scavenger Hunt. This is something I am going to implement new this year. My children are always pointing out the different sights during the winter season, so this year I am going to print out the list below and hand them out during our trip to see Christmas lights. I’m hoping it will be a fun way to get my kids to get along and embrace our competitive side.
3. Bake Cookies. I’m a sucker for a good cookie! Especially during the Christmas season, if only for the smell it creates in my home! My mom was never a baker, but I remember so many Christmases while I was growing up baking cookies. I carried this tradition on with my children. We have special cookie recipes that we only make during the Christmas season, but you don’t have necessarily make them from scratch. I was raised on pre-made cookie dough. My memories are of the feeling I had making them with my family, not any specific recipe.
4. Make a Gingerbread House. My kids LOVE making gingerbread houses. I started out buying kits and last year I decided to make my own since all of my kids want to make their own and it gets a little pricey. It’s a nice little Christmas decoration that gets built about a week or two before Christmas and it sits out on our breakfast bar for a home-made Christmas village. I love seeing my kids’ creative juices flowing and we have had some pretty interesting gingerbread houses and people in the past.
5. Read the Birth of Jesus Together. We started this tradition just a few years ago, after my husband got saved. We love being able to read straight from God’s word the true reason for the season. Because our faith is the center of our lives, this is a very special and important tradition that we hope our kids carryon with their children long into the future. The scripture reference we read is normally Luke 2:1-20.
6. Let Them Pick Out and/or Decorate the Tree. I have normally been a stickler about my tree and how I want it decorated. However, as my kids have grown older, I want them to be involved and have the memories that I have as a child decorating the tree. In years past, we have went and picked out live trees, but last year I opted for a fake one just for my sanity sake and the low maintenance of it all. Although I may be the one setting up and fluffing up the fake tree, the boys get the fun of putting up the ornaments. It may have a section that is just chalk full of ornaments since some of my boys are still 1/3 the height of the tree, but the giggles heard during that time are worth the bunched up and naked spots.
7. Christmas Movie Tradition. Every year while I was growing up, I remember watching the stop animation movies like Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, or Little Drummer Boy. My children love our Christmas movie nights because we will normally watch 1-2 movies and that usually means they get to stay up a little later. We all get cozy in our pjs, pop some popcorn, stock up on candy, and hangout in front of the TV as we watch the Christmas classics.
8. Take Them Caroling. This is a fun tradition that got started with our church a few years back. The boys just love singing Christmas hymns and being able to go out and spread Christmas cheer with friends. We will grab our to-go mugs, fill them with hot chocolate or cider, and hit the local neighborhoods with our booklet of songs in hand. This year we are planning to wear our “ugly” sweaters while our caroling, which always bring a smile to our faces.
9. Have a Family Snow Day. Now this obviously depends on where you live. If you live somewhere where snow is right on your front doorstep, the take a day to walk to the yard, or local park. If you are like my family, you have to take about a 45 minute drive to the mountains to enjoy the snow. Either way, taking the kids to the snow for some classic winter fun always leaves everyone with a smile on their face. You can have a snowball fight, build a snowman, or grab some sleds and race down a hill! We try to take our boys at least once a season, and they always have a blast! I just make sure to throw some soup in the crockpot so that when we get home we can warm up.
10. Get New Christmas Pjs. I just love seeing photos of everyone in their matching Christmas Pjs. However, my older kids HATE matching their siblings. So instead of getting everyone the same set of jammies, I let them pick out their own pjs that are specific for Christmas. The only rule I have when the pick them out is that they have to be “wintery”. Lucky for me, my 2 younger boys don’t mind wearing the old hand-me-downs that their older brothers have picked, otherwise this could be a little pricey depending on how many kiddos you have.
11. Make or Create Christmas Ornaments. The great thing about this is at any point in your child’s life, they can fully participate in this activity. From birth to adult, there are so many different types of ornaments and different ways to create them! You can make salt dough with your baby’s hand or foot print, get some blank ornaments and have them paint it, create different ones from outdoor items collected, use popsicle sticks, really the possibilities are endless! The bonus for these are that you can have your yearly memories on your tree every year.
12. Take Christmas Pictures. This tradition started when my husband and I got married. Growing up we never had any family pictures that were just my immediate family. When I got married I wanted to make sure if it was only once a year, I had a family picture to look back at how our family has changed and grown over the years. You don’t have to shell out major money for some nice photos, you can recruit another family member or set up a self timer, which we have done both and sent out Christmas cards with said pictures.