The Christmas season is special for so many reasons, and just one of the magical qualities it possesses is the ability to bring families and people closer together. There is no other time that we are more cognizant of giving to others, and that includes our friends, our loved ones, those less fortunate and complete strangers. It retains this spirit that would do so much good for the world if it just carried over throughout the rest of the year. And one of my favorite ways the holidays help bring my own little family closer together are the traditions that we continue to come back to every year, some of the same traditions I remember fondly from my childhood, some that I hope my children pass down to theirs one day and are happy to have been a part of.
Here are the ten traditions that top my list and some great ones that you can get your family involved in this winter.
1. A Trip to The Christmas Tree Farm: This is always one of the most fun days of the year for us. We’ve gotten lucky with beautiful sunshine and unseasonably warm temperatures when we have chosen to cut down our tree. And the kids get to run around the maze of evergreens just long enough to absorb that fresh pine-needle scent. Go on the weekends and you can tailgate alongside other families that make an entire day out of selecting the perfect Christmas tree.
2. Use an Advent Calendar: Celebrate the anticipation of Christmas each day leading up to it by counting down with a fun calendar. We like to hang one up in the kids’ room that is at their eye-level, so they can be interactive. It is so much fun to watch Emma wake up each morning and run over to her calendar to move the wooden star to the current day. It also helps her countdown to when she gets to see family of ours that lives far away when we are traveling for Christmas.
3. Get a Separate Small Tree For The Kids: Getting the kids a tree that is all their own and one that they can decorate without having mom hover over them, giving constant reminders about which ornaments are made of glass and which of them are heirlooms, is priceless.
4. Drive Around and Look for The Best and Brightest Holiday Decor: When we were little there was a street in town that had the best Christmas displays around. They had the life-size nutcrackers and mechanical figure skaters, towers of faux presents and a huge nativity set. They drew crowds from all over and we would get out and walk around their lawn in amazement. While I haven’t seen anything quite like that with my own kids, we do drive around and look from the car at the brightest and flashiest lights and decorations we can find. Emma is a big fan of the inflatable Santa and the colorful flickering string lights, and makes sure we stop at every house has that has either.
5. Get Matching Pajamas: Each Christmas, we get matching Christmas pajamas for the kids in the family to wear on Christmas Eve. We may get more excited than the kids about watching them open up something early and seeing them lined up in coordinating jammies, but it never gets old.
6. Carve Out a Long Night In: Choose a night that you get home early from work or there is nothing on the calendar and make hot chocolate, bake cookies, listen to Christmas music, turn on a favorite Christmas movie. Do all things holiday in one night without leaving the house and it will be a feel-good night for everyone.
7. Bake Cookies for Santa: Last year, Emma helped me cut out sugar cookie dough in shapes like snowflakes and snowmen and angel wings and candy canes. Then, we iced them in red, green and white icing and topped them with the messiest handful of sprinkles we could find. And it was awesome. She was so excited to be a part of something for someone else that she didn’t care as much as she usually would about eating them herself. And the anticipation of seeing the half-eaten plate the next morning was the best.
8. Get or Make a New Ornament for Milestones: We purchased this great personalized ornament online for our first Christmas as a married couple and that glass bulb with our wedding date and two hand-painted pairs of cowboy boots still makes it onto the tree each year. For Emma’s first Christmas, we hung a clay imprint of her teeny tiny hand and intend to do the same with her sister in the next few weeks.
9. Take a Photo With Santa: No matter how awkward or funny or sweet, the yearly photo with Santa is always a favorite.
10. Hang Christmas Stockings: Make sure that each member of the family has a personalized stocking and fill it with one or a few of their favorite little things come Christmas morning, like their favorite candy or a cozy pair of socks.
Merry Christmas Season!