Christmas is such a special time of year. And what better way of making it even more exciting than to intentionally plan some regular activities that your children look forward to every year.
Most families are accustomed to decorating the tree, making Christmas cookies, being involved in some type of Christmas program, doing an advent calendar or countdown chain, and having certain traditions for gift opening.
But even these simple traditions can be made unique to your family by adding a bit of a twist to the yearly routine. Here are some ideas from our tradition experiences.
- Decorating the tree. In order to get the jump on the busy holiday season, we set aside the first Saturday of December as our yearly day to trim the tree. The day was full of music, baking, and getting to open the first gift of the season—a special ornament from mom and dad. This ornament often held some significance for that child from the past year. Miles of memories were unfolded as each child grew and was able to dig into his own box of ornaments to deck the tree.
Family Nights. The origin of our weekly family night actually began in 1985 when we planned a special night during each of the weeks before Christmas to celebrate in a fun way. Every family night began with dinner in the dining room. We then followed up with a different activity each week: e.g., sing Christmas carols; watch favorite Christmas movies; relive past Christmases by watching family videos; attend a Christmas program; go on a light-looking drive complete with snacks and hot cocoa. These events may not be unusual in themselves, but setting up that same night each week to do something as a family has given us years and years of nights to remember.
Christmas Eve. Because we enjoyed going to a Christmas Eve service around 6pm, we developed a special meal for the night before Christmas. Rather than plan something big, we chose to do a meal of fruits, vegetables, snack foods, and Christmas treats. To make it even more significant, we used china plates and crystal glasses with our classic Andersen Holiday Sparklers. Once we began this tradition, no other Christmas Eve meal would do.
Christmas Morning. The opening of Christmas gifts in our home was reserved for Christmas morning only. It was a pretty big event, as I’m sure it is in any home where children are present. Before the kids were allowed to enter the sacred living room, Dad had to set up the video camera, turn on the train under the tree, and push play on the Mannheim Steamroller CD. The favorite activity for the kids, though, was having to run through the doorway which had been laced with strands of toilet paper the night before (in an effort to keep any midnight snoopers from entering the room of presents). We still cover doorways with toilet paper for Christmas morning even today.
Heartwarming and treasured family traditions don’t have to be original to each family. It just takes each family’s special touch to make it their own. As simple as they may be, those special touches are what will be remembered and repeated for years to come.
Question: What is one Christmas tradition in your family that everyone looks forward to each year? Share your answer in the comments below.