Fun holiday Traditions
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Michelle - posted on 12/04/2012
If all else fails - visit pinterest as there are more ideas there than I have seen anywhere else!! Also, best part is most of the posts are by mom's! I've seen lots that say "to do with kids" "holiday" "christmas" etc... Best of luck making a decision and Happy Holidays!!!!
Secular Holiday Tradition Ideas!
My son loves popcorn while watching TV. In our home it's a special treat. So we'll watch something Christmasy and eat popcorn. If you eat popcorn often then make kettle corn and sprinkle in a few red and green m'n'm's for christmas coloring fun!
One evening put a "golden ticket" (there are free downloads online, but I forget where - like the polar express) and have one parent get the kids ready for bed while the other gets hot cocoa and popcorn ready. (Skip brushing teeth until you are home!) As they get tucked into bed they'll find the ticket -- then hop into the car and go look at christmas lights while munching away.
Make simple sugar cookies. Decorate. Deliver to neighbors! My kids always want to make more than we can eat because decorating is so much fun! Tip: Place their cookie into a pie tin while they decorate it to limit the mess in the kitchen. You’ll still have some mess, but it will be less!!! Save spilled pieces for “rainbow” sprinkles later and mix into Easter leftovers for St. Patrick’s Day Rainbow cookies. If you save the spilled pieces, you’ll never buy “rainbow” again!!!
Visit a farm/countryside to see deer. Tell them that reindeer have thick large antlers.
Make Candy Cane Rudolfs. Share with neighbor kids.
Buy tri beads in red and green. Thread onto a pipe cleaner. 3 green, 1 red (repeat) to make a holly wreath ornament.
Buy solid colored globe balls (NOT silver or white – because they will be harder to see. ). Put white acrylic paint (will stain, so be careful) on their hand. Place hand palm on the bottom of the ball, with the fingers going up the sides. Let dry. Paint “fingers and thumb” into snowmen. Date the ball. Do one each year and watch your child’s hand grow. (In time you’ll have to buy larger balls!)
Wrap 24 christmas books in paper. Open one/day and read the book together as a family. Can do secular or Christian Christmas books.
Countdown to Christmas – have a teeny tiny package with a piece of candy or something tiny to open each day.
Lego Countdown to Christmas – Build a lego toy each day until Christmas. Free patterns on lego’s site.
Grow a candy cane. Do one step per day to stretch it out. Put “dirt” in a clean flower pot (snowflake stuff for decorating), seeds (round wrapped peppermint candy), water with glitter, fertilizer (sequins). Overnight change from round peppermint candy to tiny wrapped peppermint candy. Allow them to decide to eat or see if it will grow more by the next day. The next night switch it to a tall traditional size candy cane. Allow them to decide to eat or watch. At this point I choose to stop and say “some plants only get so big”. Up to you how “big to grow yours”!!
Enjoy some store bought treats with a twist– like oreos makes a peppermint filling only this time of year (I’m sure there are others as well, but this is the one that comes to mind first).
FYI – requires mom prep! Make a Christmas book. Have your child write a piece/page of the night before Christmas (or other holiday book of your choice) and color/draw a picture to go along with it. As your child gets older you will see more and more of the story. Only one page/book page – so make parts simple in the beginning. No you won’t see ALL of the story with the young ones, but they’ll be a treasure to keep!
Christian Holiday Ideas!
If you have a live nativity -- go visit it. They are amazing!!! In my opinion it is worth an hours drive if necessary. We did starting age 4 and my child loved it!!!
Do an Advent Calendar – tons of ideas online (especially on pinterest) – a simple one is made with envelopes and cards.
Tell the story of Jesus a verse or two at a time over many nights. Ask your kids “what happened last night? What do you think will happen tonight?” Talk about how others treated Jesus.
Bake Jesus a birthday cake
Read “what does God want for Christmas?” Amazon has two versions with little boxes. The last box holds a mirror as he wants YOU!
Amazon has an Advent storybook – sounds neat, but no personal knowledge yet (we plan to get this year). 24 stories about a “bears” visit to Bethleham.
Visit a shelter and take baggies of cookies. Call around FIRST to be sure what is and is not allowed (you might have to buy pre-packed store vs homemade as each shelter has different rules). Also to find out what time to come. Be sure to have in individual bags to hand out easily. Talk with your children about how fortunate they are. Consider candy canes with a tiny bow for kids in addition.
Read legend of the candy cane – the red for jesus blood on the cross, the white for our sins he wiped away, the letter J when upside down, the shepherd crook when rightside up. There is a book that does this or you can do it yourself (I might have missed a few pieces as we haven’t read it yet this year). Provide a candy cane for your kids to eat.
FYI - This one takes some mom prep… Make a nativity book with a tiny piece/day. Simple version “Joseph” and color a man in Jesus day clothing. “Mary” and color a woman in Jesus day clothing. “Manger” and color a manger. “Jesus” and show a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes. Or as your kids get older make it slightly more. As they get older have them draw vs color. Watch their books grow and change as they mature!
Leyla - posted on 11/29/2012
On Christmas Eve we always make "Reindeer Food" so while the cookies for Santa cool we mix up dry oatmeal, glitter and a few baby carrots and then put it in a bowl on the driveway. Of course it's alway gone come Christmas morning..usually a few 'crumbs" left on the ground around the bowl, as reindeer are messy eaters!
Hillary - posted on 11/29/2012
We make gingerbread houses, eack kid gets to make their own house and then we set them up beside the tree and call it ginger village. Since my son's birthday is the 23rd, we don't usually get too festive until after we have had his party, but getting the tree and decorating it are always a big family thing. Once we have the tree and it is set up, the kids decorate it while my husband and I watch. Once it is done my husband helps one of the kids put on the topper, then we sit back with hot chocolate and egg nog for the official "lighting" of the tree. The kids make gingerbread cookie decorations, popcorn strands and paper decorations, so our tree is never the same. We only have a couple decorations that have special meaning that we keep every year. Although the kids are allowed to pick one decoration they made to save to put on the tree every year, so they are slowly building a collection. Every year everyone in the family gets a new pair of pajamas on Christmas Eve (including the animals so this year our bunny will also get a pair..lol. Most of that costs us little to nothing. It is our kids job to decorate the house with whatever they can make, each year as they get older they are getting more and more creative. They make paper snowflakes, paper chains, they made a cardboard nativity scene one year, my son saw frozen colored ice balls in a book once and has made those to line our driveway. Every Sunday in december (unless our son has hockey) is a new activity, so one might be skating, one may be building snowmen, sledding, etc., but everyone has to particpate and we always enjoy hot chocolate and a holiday movie after. Not sure if any of that helps, but just a few of the things our kids look forward to each year. Oh, and of course, holiday baking!
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Gena - posted on 11/02/2013
If you are a big family celebrating you could do what we do about giving eatch other presents. About 2/3 months before xmas we write down everybodies name on a piece of paper,but it in a dark bag,mix and then everybody picks out one name and keeps it secret till xmas.So everybody just gets that person we picked a present. Its always exiting on xmas to see who picked you :-)
Ann - posted on 12/05/2012
Present hunt!! A few riddly clues to get them going in the right direction. Also, each year there is one itty bitty one in or on the tree somewhere.
Also, like Lakota, we make a cake or cupcakes for a birthday cake for Jesus. We also make sure that we give to a family that needs help. Usually, the kids get 3 presents. period. They choose to get only 2, and I allow them to get a gift for the angel tree, or this year it was shoeboxes.
Each year, we make cookies and send out to people. They love this. We send to military in Africa, as well as take to elderly friends.
Lastly, we love to carol at the nursing homes.
Tanya - posted on 12/04/2012
For the past 2 yrs my son and I buy new toys throughout the year whenever we have a little extra money and save them up til Christmas then donate them to the Toys for Tots. It makes him feel good to know he is helping less fortunate kids have a good Christmas.
Melissa - posted on 12/04/2012
Make some salt dough ornaments for your tree or to give as gifts. This was our first time doing this and it was surprisingly easy and kept my 5 year-old's interest for a long time! We also have an elf on the shelf. He comes out at Thanksgiving along with our basket of holiday books. We do like the gingerbread house idea as well, but don't do it every year.
We also visit our local zoo which happens to have a fabulous Christmas light display. We attend some type of holiday themed show - Trans-Siberian Orchestra, The Nutcracker, or a school concert - it doesn't have to cost a lot. We are big fans of volunteering. We bake cupcakes for hospice patients. We participate in an adopt-a-family. I would love to do some caroling. Maybe next year. ;)
Catherine - posted on 12/03/2012
my daughter is 6 and in LOVE with christmas lights. So the past few years we have her bedtime routine as normal while I have her in the tub my husband starts my truck, puts xmas music on, makes popcorn and hot cocoa (prior to this I make a ticket for the christmas light express out of cardstock) when she goes to her room for story time she sees the ticket, popcorn, hot cocoa nd her coat and boots. we go out to the car and my hubby welcomes her to her round trip christmas light ride, then we drive around the city singing christmas songs and looking @ all the lights. She gets so excited to do this every year.
Diana - posted on 12/03/2012
My girls look forward to opening a new pair of jammies on Christmas Eve & then wearing them to bed. We just put up our tree this weekend and one of our traditions is to bake a batch of cookies to eat while decorating & then cuddling up together on the sofa to watch a holiday movie after we are done. This year it was "Elf". The other thing we did a few years ago was to make our own calendar to count down the days until Christmas. We used an old piece of quilt fabric that I had, felt, velcro, & craft glue. We made 24 pockets out of red & green felt with 24 red & green felt triangles to put on the front with a tiny piece of velcro to look like the folded flaps that we could remove & tuck inside the pocket each day. Inside each pocket we put a small piece of candy for each child (Hershey Kisses, candy corn, or anything bite-sized). Then we fold the top of the quilted piece over & we can put it on the back of a kitchen chair, stair railing, or put it on a clothes hanger & hang it somewhere. Every morning when the girls get up, they run to the calendar & get their piece of candy then tuck the triangle inside the flap. They love it because they helped make it.
Lisa - posted on 12/03/2012
We used to make strings of popcorn and cranberries to put on the tree and then hang outside for the birds after the holidays. We also made all of our own cards (150 usually!) to mail out. We'd start in October usually! There are so many cool things that you can do if you look on line.
Carol - posted on 12/02/2012
Christmas is also the Festival of Lights, it occurs at the Winter Solstice and is when we have the longest nights, All the lights remind you that more sunlight is coming;. Kids forget that the dark is good too. Talk about all the things dark does; lets us sleep, lets us see the stars, lets the night animals have their time, makes movies easy to see, makes candles magic.....Then light a candle and talk about the beauty of that. I also liked to give each kid a dollar, go to the dollar store and ask them to buy something for someone else. I also think it is important to teach kids to give as well as recieve - let them earn a couple of dollars doing an extra chore, take them to a cheap store and let them get gifts for the rest of the family. It is so much fun for them to watch others open their gift too. A note, I did this with my kids and they and their kids give us gifts at Christmas (the kids spend less than a dollar and some gifts are....odd....but cherished) My husband did not do this and his kids and their kids never give us anything. I thinkk they are missin a lot of the fun.
Lesley - posted on 12/01/2012
we make a bauble for the tree. Doesnt have to be expensive, but my tree is full of memories. We also make them to give as presents to my sons friends, and we get them off his friends - my tree looks fantastic and we have lots of happy memories
Amanda - posted on 11/30/2012
Xmas eve we walk round the neighbourhood looking at all the lights. One of the streets near us puts on abit of a street party that anyone and everyone can go to.
After that the kids have a bath and get to open one present that the elves have left for them to help them get ready for santa, a new pair of pj's. Then we put out a carrot for the reindeer and a gingerbread man that we made the day before for santa.
Xmas morning we get up and open presents then I skype my family in the UK where its still xmas eve and they get to watch the kids open the presents they have sent
Kristin - posted on 11/30/2012
When my kids were little, we would go through their toy boxes in late Nov or early Dec. Any toys still in good condition, which they either no longer wanted or had outgrown, were then donated to charities for the Christmas appeals. This not only taught them to be generous and to pass on (recycle) unwanted items, it also made room for all the new toys they'd be getting. We were not rich, my ex-husband was unemployed for most of our marriage, and later I was a single mum, but we did give as much as we could. Now I have three beautiful, thoughtful adult children, who will go out of their way to help others, kids I am proud to call mine!
Nina - posted on 11/30/2012
I love "Elf on the Shelf". Best tradition we have started. My kids love it and even though my oldest doesn't believe anymore he still loves it!! There are all kinds of fun things you can have your elf doing. Now that my kids are bigger our elf gets to do silly things to the kids. I toilet papered my oldests bedroom yesterday and had the end of the roll in the elfs hand. They thought that was hilarious!!
Kate - posted on 11/30/2012
The "Elf on the Shelf" book! The book comes with the elf and the kids get to name your elf. The elf watches the kids all day and reports to Santa at night who has been naughty or nice. The next morning the elf is in a new spot. (You have to remember to move him/her each night). The kids get so excited first thing in the morning who can find "Elfie"! No one is allowed to touch the elf or he will lose his magic and not return. The kids can blow him kisses and talk to him. Fun family tradition :)
Brooke - posted on 11/30/2012
Our family likes to remember that when we do service for others we are giving a gift to Jesus for His birthday. So at the beginning of the month, we pull out a homemade manger (you could use an old basket) and cut up paper for straw. For every service we do for each other we get to put a piece of straw in the manger, to make it soft for Jesus. By the time Christmas comes, it is big and full, and our family feels happier and more love for each other. :)
We also like to search for really cool Christmas lights as a family, and attend free concerts around.
There are many nights leading up to Christmas where we sit around together and read Christmas stories together. You can find many inspirational ones online.
On Christmas Eve we always do a puppet show or act out the story of the 1st Christmas.
Megan - posted on 11/30/2012
Oh my there's so many good ones! I'm getting ideas! We are going to bake a cake and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus, send out family pictures to all of the family, with our cards or might print them, and last year I finally was able to convince my family to cut down our own Christmas tree. It supports a local family and is a wonderful experience. I was so happy when I asked them if they wanted to go this weekend and my 15 year old step son excitedly said YEAHHH :) that was music to my ears. :) (wear mud boots, bring a nice sharp saw, if not they have one, and a sled to pull the tree on.)
Elizabeth - posted on 11/30/2012
Walk around your neighborhood looking at everyone's decorations.
Visit seniors in nursing and retirement homes - bring an activity or game to play with them. Remember that many of those seniors have family that have put them away and forgotten about then. Just call ahead to make an appointment with the activities director first. They can get the more alert patients for your family to visit.
Go to animal shelters and spend time with the older dogs. They are always needing volunteers to help walk and care for the animals there. You and your family get to enjoy time with a pet without having to take it home.
Those were just some of the things I did with my troops of Girl Scouts during Christmas. I also had all the girls come to my house and bake/decorate holiday cookies that they took home with them for their family to enjoy. Unfortunately that much baking costs money so it is not a limited budget event.
Holly - posted on 11/29/2012
We take the fronts of christmas cards from the year before and make gift tags out of them. We also put a special green ornament on the tree and the first kid to find it xmas morning gets an extra gift (like a cookie). For our xmas eve dinner we sprinkle some hay on the table as a reminder that Jesus was born in a barn and only had hay in the manger to sleep on. Last, we go to the movies on xmas day afternoon, as our families live far away and this seems like "the" thing to do.
Magna - posted on 11/29/2012
I've done this with my daughter since she was one. One thing we do is we purchase an inexpensive box of holiday cards. Then I have the kids (now there's three of them) dip their a hand in red or green paint and make a hand print on one side of the card and we write the personal note on the other side. Recipients love it too!
Another thing we do is make construction paper decorations: snowflakes, connecting gingerbread men shapes, stars, etc. Then we string them together and hang them either around the house or on the Christmas tree. It's been fun. & it saves on all the decorations.
And one last thing the kids absolutely love to do is decorate the door with a holiday themed gift wrap paper. The one from last year is still on, lol. Going to change it next week.
Hope this helps and I really hope you find a tradition that suits your family.
Nicole - posted on 11/28/2012
Ginger bread house! I love making them with my kiddies.. For the month of december,nothing but christmas movies and tv show..i'm from chicago so every year we ride the train downtown chicago to see the lights..omg get sheet music too! We love christmas songs..by christmas eve,we all perform atleast two songs each for the family..
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