New Christmas Traditions That Could Last for Generations
Christmas Isn't Just for Kids
Christmas means so much more than presents and food. Christmas has a spirit all its own with excitement, happiness, family fun, joy, and anticipation. But is it just the gifts we anticipate? Is it just Santa Claus the kids are waiting for? No, it is the time, the feeling, the overall sense of kinship with those around us. Christmas is a wonderful time with everyone smiling and joyous. Don't think of Christmas as a chore or a monetary burden; instead, think of things you can do within your budget for and with your family. Because family is what Christmas is all about.
I have listed a few things below that might help you get everyone in your family back to the Christmas spirit and 'build traditions that could last for generations. You don't have to do them all, just one will make a difference, you'll see. Once you read this and get the idea, you can even use your imagination and create some of your very own.
Get the Kids to Help
You would be very surprised to learn that even the very youngest of children will want to help prepare for the Holidays. And by letting them join in the fun and excitement, they will feel that it really is more than the presents under the tree.
One of the first things you can do as a family is the tree and decorations around the house (a Decorating Party). This can be a wonderful time to gather the entire family together, serve hot chocolate and sugar cookies, and have everyone pitch in to decorate the house for the holiday. Do you have children that are all grown-up? Invite them over so the grand kids can help (then have them make a date and join them for their decorating party). Just as an example: the little ones can put up the plastic ornaments and the candy canes while the older ones do the more delicate decorating.
Have the kids help with the cooking for the dinner or help making gifts that you might be giving. And let them help with the baking. They can stir things, mix things, help measure out flour and sugar. So what if they get a little flour on the floor or drop an egg or two, it's kind of nice when they can say "I helped" when you hand the gift over or offer the dish at a party. And they get to feel like they really are a part of the celebration.
Let the kids help with choosing gifts for their relatives. They may not be real good at it, but you can show them two or three items and let them help choose which one of them to give. Maybe you can give the kids a chore each day to help prepare for the celebration. Dusting, vacuuming, straightening up and wiping things down are all things that the kids can do on their own or help you to do. Even if it is something as simple as taking a damp cloth and wiping down the bottom cabinet door. They don't have to do a bang-up job, they just have to try. With the effort comes the rewards of "I helped" when family and friends arrive. Have the camera ready because those smiling faces will be beaming with pride when those words are uttered.
Children Love to See Lots of Gifts
Sharing the 'gift giving' tradition gives the kids a thrill to be involved and to enjoy. There are a few things you can do to help:
- Make things to put under the tree.
- Try purchasing small gifts that can sit in the tree for a week or so before being opened to get the excitement rolling. Kids love seeing the gifts and wondering what's inside.
- Purchase a lot of small things like small puzzles or coloring books. Wrap them separately and put them under the tree.
- Spouses can do the same for each other. You'll be amazed how excited you'll get wondering what he/she bought or made for you as you see the gift hiding in the branches. It doesn't have to be expensive, either, just a small thing like costume jewelry or, for the kids, special shoelaces to make their shoes stand out.
- Help the kids make special foods or gifts for them to give.
Fun Gift Exchange
Set up a gift exchange with all the kids in the family. Each child gets a few dollars from their parents' (set a limit) and draws a name from a hat. They can then go to a small store (even a dollar store will work) and choose something for that person. Make it even more exciting by telling them they have to keep it a secret so that no one knows who gave them the gift. Put all of the gifts into a tote or bag until Christmas Day (make sure they only have the name of the person to receive the gift written on them). Then, on Christmas Day when the whole family is there (or whenever you have set up the exchange), you can bring out the tote and hand out the gifts.
For even more excitement, have the kids wrap the gifts (okay, I know that they don't wrap too well, but they will be thrilled to be able to try and you can help, a little). You can make things a little more exciting by just having each child get a gift and it gets wrapped and put in the bag with no name. On the designated day, the kids get to pick from the bag in order after drawing a number from a bowl. The possibilities are endless.
Special Things the Kids Can Do
- When the kids write to Santa Claus, have them draw a picture for him. Nothing amazing, just something. Then seal the letter and place it in the tree (so Santa will know it is for him). Once the kids have gone to bed for the night, take the letter out of the tree and open it. Remove the picture, be sure the rest doesn't remain where the kids can see it, and put the picture inside a wrapped package marked from Santa. Just remember, the kids will have a lot going on, so you might have to 'notice' the picture for them. Then the kids will squeal with delight to see that Santa got their letter and even put their picture in with their gift. Try to make the gift something on their list for an extra special surprise.
- Discuss the Christmas meal menu with the kids. Sometimes we forget that all the food needs to be enjoyed, not just what our parents used to make. The kids might have some great ideas for you to try giving the meal something different and exciting. You can even try making a new type of dessert, with the kids' help, of course.
- When Christmas season approaches you can go to the mall as a family or group and see all the decorations and meet Santa. You can drive around and look at all the decorations and light displays that people put out. You can go Christmas Caroling with family and friends. Don't want to sing out in the cold? Try going to nursing homes and hospitals and singing there to help cheer them up. You'll be surprised at how welcome you'll feel even if you can't sing well. This will also give the kids a sense of accomplishment and pride because they will have done something for someone else, and it didn't even hurt.
- Have a Christmas party well before Christmas where you can have games, challenges and crafting (for gifts). Have everyone bring an idea for a great craft they might like to try (even if they have never done it before). You can even go out together to get the materials for the crafting jobs after deciding what to do. Invite all the parents, too; the more the merrier.
Certificates and Celebrations
Instead of buying gifts for Christmas this year, why not give each other 'gift certificates' for something that you will do for them. It could be that you will take the kids for a friend for a day, spend a day helping them with a project, or make them breakfast. It could be that you will watch that movie your spouse wanted to see, or you'll take something off of the 'honey do' list and actually do it. Don't laugh because both husbands and wives have 'honey do' lists and this would be a nice way to get some of those things accomplished. You can even create a lot of them and place them in a money card all together. Then they can pull them out as they like and 'spend them'. Just be sure they know they have to give you a little bit of notice.
Set a date for a special Christmas celebration for you and your significant other, boy/girl friend, or just a friend. Each does their own preparing and then you get together for your 'moment'. Watch a favorite movie together (Christmas movies are real good for this), drink cider or wine together, spend an evening out somewhere or just sit and listen to Christmas Carols and look at the tree.
Spend Time With Friends
Spend time with friends during the holiday. Go out together for some holiday shopping, stop at a coffee shop for a moment of relaxation, or just bring a thermos of hot cocoa to share.
Do something special together such as a trip out of your comfort zone Give everyone an invitation to a craft party at your home. Meet at a spa for the day. Enjoy the lights that are up in town. Roam the small town streets to see special displays. Anything is possible.
Christmas is a time to be with family and friends. A time to share love, laughter, and joy. A time for fun and excitement. Many of us get so involved in trying to get the right gift, or set up the party just right, or the dinner to perfection that we forget why we are doing it. Don't waste your Christmas Holiday getting stressed and worrying about what might go wrong. Instead, share everything including the wrapping, gift choosing, decorating, and preparing for a get together. You'll be happier and so will everyone around you.
PS: If and/or when things do go wrong, try laughing about it. We cannot make everything go the way we want so let's enjoy what we can do and laugh about the rest. No use crying over spilled milk, or in this case eggnog.
I know that I am, for the most part, pushing a kid friendly theme here, but the kids really will like to help. At least the younger ones will. Sometimes the older ones have to be persuaded at bit at first. Keeping the kids involved in the whole Christmas experience rather than just opening the gifts can help you stay on top of things and put them in the gift giving spirit. Don't worry if things go wrong, that is what makes the whole thing so exciting and gives the kids a chance to come up with an answer to the problem. Besides, wouldn't it be better to ask for help rather than telling them to get lost because you are busy?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2011 Cheryl Simonds