I love Christmas. I love the colorful lights, the smell of home-made cookies, the taste of hot chocolate, the sound of Christmas carols playing in stores and the feeling that something magical could happen at any time! I find Christmas to be simply superlative.
As a kid, I remember the excitement that came with decorating the Christmas tree and waiting for Santa Clause to deliver bags full of gifts. I guess it is safe to say that at that age, the two most important elements of Christmas were the Christmas tree and the gifts under the tree.
- 1 The Magic of Christmas
- 2 Decorating the Christmas tree – A Family Affair
- 3 Personalized Ornaments
- 4 Family Photograph
- 5 The Season for Giving
- 6 The Smell of Freshly Baked Choc-chip Cookies
- 7 Nativity Scene
- 8 Movie Night
- 9 Decorating the House with Christmas Lights
- 10 Santa is Coming to Town
- 11 Treasure Hunt
The Magic of Christmas
Then I grew up only to realize that the magic of Christmas is in fact not found under a tree at all and that it is not the gifts that make Christmas special but time spent with family and the spirit of giving that almost becomes infectious during this time of the year!
Dr. Seuss summed it up pretty well in the movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas: “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
The time I cherish most during Christmas is time spent with family – the memories we make together that will hopefully last us a lifetime and at the same time, enrich our kids’ lives. This is why we started our own family traditions when we got married. I can only hope that one day when our kids are all grown up, they will remember these traditions and pass them on to their kids, perhaps even starting a few of their own.
So in the spirit of giving, I would like to share a few of our fun, family Christmas traditions in the hopes that you too will find one that becomes special to your family!.
Decorating the Christmas tree – A Family Affair
Every year on December 1st, we put up the Christmas tree together as a family. The Christmas hats come out and we crank up the volume to the Christmas carols while we giggle, dance and decorate our special tree! Our kids are still fairly young but they thoroughly enjoy helping out, passing on the lights, ornaments, and decorations. Opening up that Christmas tree decoration box is like finding a treasure for them as they discover all the beautiful ornaments and keepsakes we’ve created over the years! We also take turns each year to put the star at the top of the tree and make a little ceremony out of it. Then, as a special treat to thank them for their help, we make a “family bed” right next to the tree, drink hot chocolate and watch the kids fall asleep, mesmerized by those magical Christmas lights!
We have our kids each make their own little ornament for the Christmas tree every year and I write their names and the date on them. I usually look for ideas on the internet and help them with their little work of art that makes our tree unique and special! What I enjoy most, is finding these little ornaments as we decorate the tree each year. It brings up so many special memories for all of us!
I love photography and ever since our kids were born, we’ve made it a family tradition to take a fun, Christmas-themed photograph every year. My husband and I enjoy brainstorming ideas ahead of time and after we’ve taken the photo, we have it printed and we hang it on our tree. I look forward to having a tree filled with special memories in a few years’ time and we’ll probably end up making fun of these photographs a few years down the line! Never the less, they will always be very special to me!
The Season for Giving
Seeing that the heart of Christmas is giving, we get together as a family every year and decide on a special project – something that gives back to the community. This year, we’ve decided to join in on an already on-going project – The Santa Shoebox Project. They provide gifts, wrapped in shoeboxes, for underprivileged kids. It’s important to us that the kids realize from a young age on that it is better to give than to receive and that there are many less fortunate kids in the world. I’d like to think that even though they are still young, they enjoy picking out something special for someone else.
Last year, we put on our Christmas hats and volunteered at an animal shelter. The real challenge was of course not to bring home all the animals from the shelter!
The Smell of Freshly Baked Choc-chip Cookies
We bake a few batches of chocolate-chip cookies together just before Christmas every year and take some over to our neighbors. I let the kids do the mixing of the ingredients and they always seem very pleased with themselves as they walk over to the neighbors with a plate filled with delicious cookies! The neighbors enjoy seeing how much the kids have grown over the past year and they truly appreciate the gesture. I also help the kids to write a letter to Santa during this time and when we take the letters to the post office, we drop off a plate of cookies for them as well.
We only put gifts under our Christmas tree on Christmas Eve after Santa has dropped them off. Before then, the kids and I create our own little nativity scene under the Christmas tree. We read the Bible story to them and together we come up with a few creative ideas on what to put under the tree that will symbolize Christmas to them. This year, we created our own little “crib” and my daughter graciously offered one of her dolls to be wrapped in an old cloth and put in the crib.
A few nights before Christmas, we pick out a “Christmas” movie, get everyone in their pajamas, fill the popcorn bowl and pour ourselves some hot chocolate as we get comfortable on the couch. Of course the kids usually for asleep half way through the movie, given their age, but I believe that in time, this will become a very special tradition for us! I also really gets us into the “Christmas Spirit”.
Decorating the House with Christmas Lights
This one is probably one of my favorite Christmas traditions – decorating the exterior of our house with Christmas lights and ornaments. We only recently started this tradition and seeing that it can be a rather costly tradition, we’ve decided that we will purchase one new item every year. It’s exciting to go to the store and decide on what to buy every year!
This year, we bought a few reindeer to put up on the roof! Once we’ve put up all the lights and decorations, we usually fill our mugs with hot chocolate and then go for a drive through the neighborhood to watch other people’s Christmas lights. The thing I love most about this tradition is that even though we go to all the trouble to decorate our home, we hardly ever get to see the lights ourselves. We are inside most of the time so, in reality, it is our gift to by passers to enjoy!
Santa is Coming to Town
The night before Christmas, we have one of our friends dress up as Santa Clause and we leave a key for him to get in our back yard. The kids and I put out milk and cookies for Santa on the table outside and then patiently wait by the window for him to arrive! The kids love watching as Santa enters our yard and enjoys the milk and cookies! The highlight, of course, is when he puts down the pack filled with gifts for them and disappears, but not before winking and waving good-bye! The tricky part is, of course, for them to wait until the next morning before they can open their gifts but I believe it builds up the excitement and teaches them a little patience at the same time!
Every year, Santa “misplaces” someone’s gift (We pick a different person every year) somewhere in the garden or the house! Fortunately, he leaves a letter containing little hints on where he left the gift and it turns into a treasure hunt for the whole family! It creates a fun atmosphere and sense of adventure and every year, someone gets to feel special a little longer…
My Final Thoughts
So there you have it – Our list of 10 fun family Christmas traditions that we embrace during this very special time of the year! Some traditions we created ourselves, some my husband and I grew up with and some we got from other families!
Share these traditions and create your own special memories because before you know it, the kids will be all grown up with their own families and ready to start their own line of new traditions that are special to them! I truly hope from the bottom of my heart that my husband and kids will remember and cherish these memories forever.