Festive Family Christmas Traditions to Start This Year
Everyone says it, but the holidays are truly the most wonderful time of the year! There's nothing more magical, especially with little ones in the house.
One of the ways to get your children excited and involved during the holidays is with traditions practiced year after year. It gives them something to look forward to and memories to look back on as they grow and your family grows, too. Traditions also take time and effort, so with them, the message you're sending is that family, food, and happiness are worth the investment.
It's fun to pass on traditions from your childhood, but also to introduce new and unique traditions to your children.
Here's a list of some of our favorite Christmas traditions to do with your family:
1. Pick the perfect Christmas tree.
Shopping for a tree together (real or fake) is a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season. Ryan gets a kick out of seeing all the trees, pointing at "the biggest" ones, and picking one to bring home. With the boys so young, I tend to decorate after they have gone to bed to avoid little hands handling fragile ornaments. They love to wake up and see the tree transform overnight!
2. Visit and take pictures with Santa.
Dress baby up in a festive holiday outfit (or not) and bring him or her to meet Santa. Meeting Santa can be a scary experience for little ones, so I encourage you to approach Santa first to show your little one that he's safe and mom approves. If baby ends up crying in the photo, don't worry, it will still be a lovely memory years from now.
3. Write a letter to Santa.
Writing a letter and putting it in the mailbox is exciting enough for a toddler, add in Santa and it becomes an event! We love to get out the stickers, scissors, glue, and red and green construction paper for our cards. This gives little ones who can't yet write a way to put their "stamp" on it, while mom and dad write for them.
4. Send holiday photo cards.
If this is baby's first holiday, it may be the first time you consider sending a holiday card, too. A piece of advice? Don't sweat it! Whether you plan to send photo of baby or one of the whole family, it will bring a smile to your relatives' faces when they open it.
5. Count down with an advent calendar.
I find an advent calendar to be a wonderful way to help Ryan visually see how many days there are until Christmas. It's not easy for little ones to grasp the concept of time, but this is a fun, interactive way to count down to Christmas!
6. Take a ride around the neighborhood.
One of our favorite ways to get into the holiday spirit is to drive around town and enjoy the holiday lights and decorations on houses in the neighborhood. Some of the bigger marketplaces around the city have fun decorations and enormous holiday trees, too.
7. Read holiday books.
We try to add at least one new Christmas book to our collection every year. The struggle is waiting until December to start reading them! There's something so cozy about sipping hot chocolate with the boys while we read snowy stories of elf and reindeer games. (If you need ideas for baby-friendly holiday books, take a look at my list of favorites.)
8. Give to charity and involve the kids.
This year, we participated in the baby2baby family2family giving tree and used it as an opportunity to teach the kids about the importance of giving. We shopped for and wrapped gifts for two children, and I got to explain to Ryan that the holidays are also about giving to those who are less fortunate. Ryan and I dropped off all of the gifts together yesterday!
9. Bake cookies on Christmas Eve.
This is one of my favorite ways to ease all of the excitement in the house on Christmas Eve. It takes a good hour, and little ones love to help roll the dough, use cookie cutters, and taste-test the results. We like to pick the biggest one for Santa and leave it next to the tree with a glass of milk and a special note.
10. Wear matching pajamas.
After you bake your cookies, it's time to dig out the matching holiday pajamas! There are so many options, whether you prefer something traditional or something a bit more silly. The best part is that you'll wake up (at the crack of dawn, if you have little ones) camera-ready for opening presents.
11. Make a handmade ornament.
If your child attends daycare or pre-school, you'll likely come home with an ornament, but if not, it's a great way to make memories and create a keepsake at the same time. Pinterest has so many wonderful ornament ideas, but one of my favorites is baby's handprint hanging from a simple red ribbon.
12. Build a gingerbread house.
This can be a super fun activity to kick off the holidays. It may get a little messy, but that's part of the fun! It's also a way to encourage those developing fine-motor skills. Seeing your little one's imagination bloom as they decide to make spice-drop bushes and twinkle lights is so sweet. If a gingerbread house is too much, you can always decorate a few gingerbread people. This one's fun to do with a group of friends!
13. Make reindeer food.
We always leave carrots next to Santa's cookies to make sure the reindeer have a yummy treat, but we've also made our own version of reindeer food, too. Set out some bowls on a table (or the floor) filled with oatmeal, red and green sugar crystals, and white sugar. Let the kiddos dig, scoop, and mix it all together into a plastic baggy. On Christmas Eve, sprinkle it on the lawn to help the reindeer find your house!
Don't forget yourself, Mama!
It's easy to get swept up in the holiday hustle, but I don't want you to forget yourself, mama! We have a very exciting announcement happening on our Instagram stories on Friday, December 8th.. you won't want to miss it!
What are some of your favorite holiday traditions? Join us in the Happy Moms Facebook group to share your best (and worst?) holiday moments.