It's the most wonderful time of the year... well it is for me at least, yes I am a Christmas enthusiast. I am a lover of all things Christmas (well okay not the Christmas debt). I think it's because I am a teacher that I get so excited about the craft, the fun, and most importantly the family traditions!
For me it's not so much about presents on Christmas day itself but the lead up to Christmas and all of the special things we do together as a family that I get excited about. I'm very lucky because I grew up in a family that also valued Christmas traditions so when I became a mum, thinking of ideas for my own family came naturally to me.
But perhaps you didn't? Maybe you are wanting to start some Christmas traditions with your family but are struggling for ideas? This article is for you!
I've put together a list of 10 Christmas tradition ideas, some of them are from my own family and others were shared with me by Parent Like You readers. Hopefully you find some ideas that are a good fit for your family.
1. Christmas stockings/sack - when I surveyed our Parent Like You readers many of them shared this Christmas ritual as being their most memorable. Waking up on Christmas morning with a stocking/sack filled with surprises was such an exciting time! It is equally special as a parent to think of fun little presents to fill the kids' stockings with.
2. Advent calendar - It's so fun doing a countdown until Christmas and advent calendars were designed specifically for this. If you're not so keen on your children starting each day with a chocolate then you can get some Christmas stationery calendars these days too - I got mine at Kmart. An alternative advent calendar idea is to create a Christmas kindness calendar, where you do kind things for people in your community each day leading up to Christmas.
3. Putting up the Christmas tree/Photo decorations - Putting up the Christmas tree signals the start of the Christmas period and many families have little traditions within this process, like picking a live tree, deciding who gets to put the star on the top etc. In our family our tree is full of home made Christmas decorations that the boys have made at kindy and school over the years. We also have photo decorations of the boys growing up. I don't even remember where I got this idea from, but I have been turning photos of my boys into Christmas decorations since my first son was born 13 years ago. Now each year when we put the Christmas tree up we get to walk down memory lane and see how much they have grown over the years. It is a very special family tradition in my house and one we will in enjoy for a lifetime. I get my decorations made at snapfish.com.au.
4. Team family shopping - We wanted to teach our boys about the gift of giving so many years ago we came up with the idea of doing Christmas shopping in teams. We divide the family up into two groups - with an adult in each. We set a present budget then go out shopping at the same venue and each team buys presents for the other team. You have to sneak around the shopping mall and not let the other team see what shops you have been into - it's super fun. The kids are encouraged to do the present choosing and also have to wrap the presents and write the cards when we get home. When they see their family members open up the presents they chose for them (and hopefully love them) they are filled with joy! Both my 13 year old son and 10 year old son tell me that team family shopping is their favourite part about Christmas - which actually melts my heart, as you would expect them to say it's the receiving. Highly recommended tradition!
5. Making a gingerbread house - Many of our PLY readers have fond memories of making gingerbread houses each Christmas with a beloved family member. I believe you can buy gingerbread kits these days to make it easier. If you love baking or have a child who does, this would be a great tradition for you!
6. Elf on the shelf - this is a reasonably new phenomenon that is taking the parenting world by storm. You get a little elf and each night when the children are asleep you move the elf to a new place in the house - parents love doing creative things with the elf that make the kids excited to view each morning. There are lots of great ideas on Pinterest if you think this tradition is for you. Some parents tell their children that the elf is watching for good behaviour and reporting back to Santa every night.
7. Reindeer food - One of our PLY readers said he makes special reindeer food (fodder and magic sprinkles), the children sprinkle the reindeer food around their house on Christmas Eve for the reindeers to enjoy when they come to visit.
8. Santa letters/photos/snacks - Many families enjoy writing a letter to Santa each year and sending it off to the North Pole with their Christmas wish list included. Likewise the customary photo with Santa each year is a very popular tradition - although this year it was a bit different with social distancing rules being applied. And who could forget to leave a glass of milk and cookies out for Santa with a carrot for the reindeer - this is a fun thing to notice once all the presents are opened - don't forget to leave some crumbs to make it look real and a personalised letter from Santa is a nice touch too.
9. Christmas Eve videos/dancing/Christmas PJs - Why leave all the fun to Christmas Day! Why not get into the Christmas spirit a day early... put on your matching Christmas pyjamas, blast the Christmas songs and bust out your best Christmas dance moves. Then before bedtime you can watch a personalised video from Santa - he's just packing the sleigh and getting ready to head your your place so it's time to hop into bed. You can get your personalised videos made for you at https://www.portablenorthpole.com/.
10. Special meals/family game of cricket - Most people have a special meal that they look forward to at Christmas - perhaps it's grandma's famous trifle, or Aunty's special stuffing. Many Aussie and Kiwi families also look forward to a game of backyard cricket on Christmas Day - so many fun family memories to be made here (unless it get's too competitive, which can often happen in our family - we are a very sporty and competitive bunch).
I hope this list of 10 Christmas Tradition ideas has provided you with the inspiration you were looking for - choose a couple that resonate with you and your family. If you'd like to share your Christmas traditions with the other Parent Like You readers tag @parentlikeyou into your Insta and FB posts - and we'll feature them on our socials too.
Have fun making all of those memories!
Kirsty is a Teacher, Family Coach, Mum of three special boys and author of the book 'Values Guided Parenting'. She has combined her passion for parenting, her love of literacy and her 17 years of experience working with children & families to found Parent Like You. Kirsty specialises in empowering parents to overcome their every day parenting challenges through her 1-2-1 coaching, online courses, and practical resources. Find out more at: https://www.parentlikeyou.com.au/meet-the-editor www.parentlikeyou.com.au/overcomechallenges