Family Christmas Traditions

Light an Advent Candle – Find time either once a week or each night to light a candle of the advent wreath and talk about what the week of Advent represents.

Blessing Book – Start a blessing book by buying a simple journal. Keep the journal from year to year and have family members add new blessings every year. For those children that are not yet able to write, a simple picture will do.

Good Luck Wishes – Try this Polish tradition on Christmas Eve. Make or buy unleavened bread. Have each family member share a piece of the bread and as the bread is shared give all family members a kiss and wish of good luck. For those wanting to incorporate a true Polish tradition, substitute Oplatek, a wafer, for the unleavened bread.

Birthday Cake for Jesus – Bake a birthday cake and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. This is a simple way of reminding ourselves and children why we celebrate Christmas. Remember the birthday cake doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. A simple box mix or even an Easy Bake oven cake will do!

Christmas Tree Decorating Party – Set aside a special time in December to decorate the Christmas Tree as a family. Make simple appetizers or finger foods to share and eat as you decorate the tree. Play Christmas music in the background and talk about all the fun things you will do as a family this Christmas season.

Give Gifts to Baby Jesus – Using your Giving Box money, purchase layette sized clothing and wrap as presents for baby Jesus. Then as a family, stop by a homeless shelter or home for mothers and children to donate the gifts.

Cut Down a Christmas Tree – Why not try cutting down a Christmas tree this year rather than buying one off the lot or putting up the artificial? This is truly a fun filled way to celebrate the Christmas season and one the family is sure to remember for years to come. The National Christmas Tree Association can help you find a Christmas tree farm in your area.

Manger Ritual – As a symbol of the waiting and expectation of Jesus’ birth, each night unwrap and place in the manger one piece of the nativity scene. Save baby Jesus for Christmas Day.

Read Christmas Stories – Set aside time each night to read a different Christmas story, saving The Night Before Christmas for Christmas Eve.

Advent Calendar – Count down the days of Christmas by purchasing or making an Advent Calendar.

Family Christmas Pajamas – I started this tradition a few years ago. On Christmas Eve the kids get to open two presents…one is their pajama’s and the other is a book. From our reader Lynn

Ornament Collection – I’ve long collected ornaments for my tree. I pick them up when I travel, I hold on to those given to me as gifts, I even a have few ones I made with my roommates after college when we were too broke to buy some for our tree! Every year as I unwrap these ornaments one by one and hang them on the tree with my family – we share stories about each ornament and enjoy lots of laughs! I recently started collections for my girls with the hope that one day when they have their own trees – they will enjoy pulling out their collections and sharing stories with their kids as much as I do! ~ Noelle Abarelli / SmartMompreneur

Make Reindeer Food – This is a fun family tradition and is an easy inexpensive gift to share with other families. Combine 1/2 cup of dry rolled oats and 1/4 cup of either glitter or colored sugar (more environmental friendly) in a either a sturdy plastic bag/bowl, paper bag (no larger than lunch size), or glass container.  On Christmas Eve, let the kids sprinkle the Reindeer food on the front lawn, so that the Reindeers can enjoy a snack while Santa is working.

Leave Reindeer, Santa, and Sleigh Tracks – Enhance your kids’ excitement by leaving behind Santa, reindeer, or sleigh tracks either in the snow or on your kitchen floor or fireplace mantel. You can use a boot from your closet (big heavy work books work best) to leave Santa tracks in the snow or if you don’t mind a little mess, use Insta-Snow Powder (available at Steve Spangler Science) or soot from your fireplace. To make reindeer tracks, download the reindeer track printable and trace it onto cardboard. For sleigh tracks use either a ski or snowboard.

“Something You Want, Something You Need, Something to Wear & Something to Read” – To help our kids focus less on getting and more on giving at Christmas, we created this rhyme – “Something you want, something you need, something to wear & something to read.”  So, for the last 8 years or so, we buy 4 presents for each kid in the house. That doesn’t mean they only get 4 presents. I usually try to hand make something for them each year.  They also get a very full, very large stocking because I love, love, love doing the stockings. And they are to make a gift for each of their siblings, unless they find a way to earn money to buy their siblings gifts (but normally they choose to make them anyway, even if they do have the money to buy a gift).  So there are always plenty of presents to open on Christmas morning, but it isn’t ridiculous and it isn’t all about what they’re getting. They’re usually more excited to see the reaction to their siblings gifts. ~ Laura White-Ritchie/BrainyFeet