I am ALL for traditions. Seriously. I’m one of “those” people. I love the memories, the rituals, the comfort that comes with doing something you’ve done so many times before. It can also bring a lot of pressure though!
YOU are creating the traditions your children will remember FOREVER!
I struggle with making the traditions simple enough to actually happen while also keeping my own to do list reasonable enough that there’s time to relax and enjoy the season. Here’s the thing though, traditions can be EASY. A tradition is nothing more than something your family usually does to have fun during the holidays. Can’t think of anything that you consider a tradition? Well the good news is, it’s never too late, or in my opinion too early, to start.
Here are some easy Christmas traditions you have plenty of time to start.
It’s Lovely Weather for a Sleigh Ride… In Your Car… To Look at Lights!
I know this sounds so basic, but that’s all it takes to make memories. Most towns have some sort of resource for finding the biggest and best lights if that’s what you’re looking for. If not, just load up the family car, turn on some Christmas tunes, and go exploring. I know some people pack cookies and hot chocolate for the ride, and others (like mine) swing through a drive thru and eat a special treat dinner as we go. You can be out on the road for 30 minutes, or make a night of it. It’s all up to you.
The 12 Books of Christmas
While the official “12 Days of Christmas” doesn’t begin until Christmas Day, you can make your own twist on the countdown and create 12 days of Christmas books. This is especially awesome for those with elementary or preschool aged children. There are SO many story books with Christmas themes out there, you simply pick your favorites, wrap them individually, and let your children open one book each of the 12 days leading up to Christmas. The books don’t have to be new. These could simply be old favorites from years past. I’ve heard of families doing this for the entire month of December, but you can do whatever works best for your family.
In case you’re looking for ideas, some of our favorite Christmas books are:
The Biggest Christmas Tree Ever
The Sweet Smell of Christmas
Bear Stays Up
Little Blue Truck’s Christmas
The Polar Express
Bring on the Christmas Jammies!
Or any jammies for that matter! Whether they’re covered in monkeys wearing Santa hats or Darth Vader, Christmas Eve is the PERFECT time to open up a nice, new set of PJs. When I was a kid, we were allowed to open ONE present on Christmas Eve. It took me until I was 8 or 9 years old to realize that every year it was going to be pajamas. Even after I had it all figured out, I was still bouncing off the walls to open that one gift! Eventually we begged and pleaded enough to get the Christmas Eve gift count up to 2. Then it was always new PJs and a Christmas ornament. That’s what I do with my boys now. I wonder how old they’ll be before they figure it out.
$20 in 20: Ready, Set, GO!
For five years now, this has been one of my absolute favorite traditions. Here’s how it works: My husband and I always set up a date night close to Christmas. This date always finishes up with a late night run to either Target or Wal-Mart. The mission is to stuff each others stockings in 20 minutes and spend only $20. We usually do a walk through together to get some ideas, get the lay of the land, and basically make a game plan. You see, you’re trying to keep everything you’re buying a secret… but you’re shopping at the same time! With our phones keeping track of the time, we spend 20 minutes budgeting $20 to fill a stocking. When the timer goes off, we have to head straight for the check out. Usually we’re able to pick different lines, but if not, we just try not to peek. Some of the stuffers are just plain silly, and some are practical. The perfect mix of both makes a great stocking. The bags stay hidden until Christmas Eve when we load it into the stockings. The kids never know and we are always surprised to see what Santa left us.
Christmas Dinner or Bust
In my family, it’s homemade lasagna. I only make it twice a year and Christmas Eve is one of those. As a kid, the Christmas meal always changed, but there was always a family dinner on Christmas Eve. For a few years, we even ate Chinese food on Christmas night. Maybe in your family it’s pizza. To be honest, I don’t think what you’re eating makes too much of a difference. Just pick something that’s special for your family and sit down, together. Hectic schedules and going in a million different directions for the entire holiday season makes family meals a little tricky. Just make it happen. You’ll be glad you did.
Write a letter to yourself next year or maybe even to your kids when they’re grown. It doesn’t take special paper or a fancy pen. Just your thoughts and making the time to sit down and reflect on what you would like to remember and share with yourself or your children about this Christmas.
Caroling, Caroling Through the Snow… FOR REAL!
I have ALWAYS wanted to go Christmas caroling, and outside of a little field trip one night when I was in high school with my Latin Club, I never have. (Adeste Fideles anyone?) As soon as my boys are big enough to actually carry a tune, and before they are old enough to get too terribly embarrassed, I will make this happen! Pick a night, ANY night, and just head out to your neighbors house and sing. Bring your phone along for some back up, you don’t even have to carol acapella anymore.
The most important thing during the holidays is not letting yourself get so wrapped up in the buying and going and doing and lists that you forget to just enjoy things. I realized that was me a couple of years ago, and I’ve made a very conscious effort to enjoy and appreciate the smaller moments. That’s what some of these easy traditions are for me: reminders to enjoy the season.