Happy Holidays, friends!
With one week left until Christmas, I wanted to list TEN fun (and easy) family traditions to incorporate into the final week leading up to the holiday! We all know how quickly the holidays fly by. So fast, in fact, that sometimes you don't get to do all that you set out to accomplish. And that goes for implementing family holiday traditions. Thus, these holiday traditions are easy to carry out, while also allowing your kids to fully live out the magic of Christmas. Here we go...
1. Buy matching holiday pajamas.
Every year growing up, my parents allowed my sister and I to open one gift on Christmas Eve. The gift was always a brand new pair of holiday PJ's and slippers that we wore on Christmas Eve night and woke up in on Christmas morning. Even though the gift was always the same, we were so excited that we got to open a present early! While I love this family tradition so much, there are a few tweaks that I have made with my own family...
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2. Host a cookie decorating party.
In the final week before Christmas, it is likely that your kiddos and the neighborhood/school kids are also on Christmas break. What better way to give your mama friends an excuse to get out of the house than to host a cookie decorating party? If you're not up for hosting, try setting some time aside to make, bake and decorate cookies at home.
If you're like me, you're thinking that your kids will likely eat their way through the party and end up with a massive sugar high. I get it, but it's freaking CHRISTMAS. Let them live a little. Sometimes my favorite memories with my kids are the ones in which I broke the rules.
3. Pick a night and make hot cocoa.
Once again, I know, it's sugar. Ah! By now, you've probably realized that sugar intake and associated control therein is out-the-window come December (see #2). Call me crazy, but I grew up drinking Capri Suns and eating Lunchables. I think I turned out okay, right?! a night of hot cocoa consumption isn't going to ruin your kids, in fact, it'll add to the holiday magic. Thus, pick a night and make homemade hot cocoa with your kids. They will (literally) eat it up!
4. Buy or make a Christmas ornament dedicated to each child.
I know that we are almost to Christmas, but gifting/making your child a unique ornament that either they picked out or an ornament that you chose that reminds you of them is something that'll impart sweet memories over the years. Now that we have Amazon Prime, there is no excuse to not purchasing knick-knacky items at the last minute. If you don't want to Prime an ornament, you can also check out your local grocery store (which we did) and pick out an ornament there! It likely won't be fancy but it'll do the job.
This year, Lincoln picked out a Mickey Mouse ornament at Kroger. As stupid as I thought it was in the moment, now it is one of the most sentimental things we've gotten this Christmas!! The $5 Mickey ornament totally reminds me of Lincoln and makes me want to cry every time I look at it.
For the "fancy-pants" moms, check out Christopher Radko ornaments. My mother-in-law gifted each of her five kids these fancy ornaments each year in the form of an ornament that reminded her of that particular child. Lucky for me, my husband now has a full box of 30-some Christopher Radko ornaments. This is something I'd ideally love to do for my boys. Buy hey, if you're not as fancy, head to Kroger or pull out some paper and make/draw your own!
5. Decorate your mailbox.
Decorating our mailbox with Christmas decorations was not something I had ever thought of doing until I saw that all of my neighbors had decorated theirs! Omg, it is literally the cutest (and easiest thing). I immediately hopped on this bandwagon and busted out the Christmas wrapping paper and got to it. Again, to decorate, keep it simple and use things that you already own. I went to Kroger and bought a big red bow for $2, used wrapping paper that I already owned and battery-operated lights that were gifted to me.
Not only is this a fun thing for you to do, but it is also a fun thing that you can do with your kids. This is a family tradition we will be doing every year that brings joy to us every time we turn into the driveway!
6. Ask a family member to call your kids, pretending to be Santa.
My Aunt Claire told me about this one. Every year, she asked my grandpa (her dad) to call her two boys, pretending to be Santa. He would disguise his voice and carry on a conversation with each boy, asking them what they wanted for Christmas. She told me I had to do it and record it. So we did. We asked Ryan's brother to call our son, Lincoln, pretending that he was Santa.
You guys, this was SO hilarious, sweet and cute. Lincoln literally thought it was Santa calling (of course), and it was the most precious thing ever. Not only do you get to witness your child experiencing the magic of the holiday, but you also may get some insight into any presents you might have forgotten about. No matter what you find, this tradition is SO worth it, just be sure and get it on camera.
7. Walk or drive around the street looking at Christmas lights.
Looking at the Christmas lights around the neighborhood is often something we take for granted, especially with our kids! It is amazing how these little details make a huge difference through the eyes of our children. While most of us have had roughly thirty or so years of seeing Christmas lights each season, our children have not. In fact, for a lot of them, this may be the first time that they actually appreciate the lights and decorations. Make a tradition of it and either hop in the car or a wagon/stroller and explore the neighborhood Christmas lights. Be sure and have your kids tell you their favorite types of lights and ask them what they like about those houses most.
You could even step it up a notch and take your children to a Christmas event solely dedicated to holiday lights. For instance, Nashville's Cheekwood hosts "Holiday LIGHTS" with over one million Christmas lights illuminating their gardens. It is magical!
8. Get a photo with Santa!
This is something that I have yet to do, but is a tradition that I am 100% making sure I partake in every year. While Santa photos are necessary, we all know that the best kind of Santa photo is the one that is free. Google around or ask friends about photos with Santa and you'll likely uncover a Santa set that doesn't cost an arm and a leg.
9. Pick an annual Christmas movie to watch.
Whether you choose the same movie each year or rotate each year, choosing a "Christmas-themed" movie to watch is festive and memorable. Curl up around the fire and turn on a Christmas film that the entire family will like. Maybe that movie is The Polar Express or It's A Wonderful Life or A Charlie Brown Christmas. Guaranteed there is a Christmas version of your child's favorite shows. Make it a fun, family tradition!
10. Give back in some way and make it a tradition.
As a parent giving to my kids unconditionally over the holidays, sometimes I forget the true meaning of the holiday. I need to constantly remind myself that Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus and most poignantly, celebrates the gift of giving. Make the holiday season a time to teach your kids the significance of the holiday; it is not in receiving that we find joy, but in giving that we find joy.
Thus, you can make the act of "giving" a family tradition by picking a way to give back. Maybe it is something that is relevant to your family. For instance, if you are a military family and want to pick a military family to sponsor. Or maybe you've had a family member affected by cancer, and it's on your heart to give back to the local hospital that cares for children with cancer. Even if it is a small act of kindness, such as giving to the homeless man on the corner, there are several ways to give back this season! In some way, I think it's important to teach our kids the reason for the season (God only knows how blessed they are and how much they receive!). As your kids grow into this tradition, it'll be a great way to teach them the importance and gift of giving.
That's all for now, mamas!
Wishing you and your family a happy + healthy holiday season.