Anybody who knows me (like, at all) knows that I am a lover of traditions. New, old, silly, serious…family traditions own me. Sharing MY childhood traditions with my own kids is my absolute favorite part of the holiday season. Every once in a while though, we stumble upon a newbie worth hanging onto.
We all know about new PJs on Christmas Eve, baking cookies for Santa, and all of those tried and true Christmas traditions, but here is a list of our family's funky homemade traditions. Just in case you’re looking for something to spice up your Christmas season.
Wake your kids up for the first snow! Unless they’re already awake. Either way, when that first glorious sparkly flake falls, get your child outside. No matter what time it is. Catch them on your tongue, sled if you have enough of the stuff, build a midnight snowman, make it magical. Worried it will ruin their whole schedule? Loosen up. This one gets even better as your kids get older.
Decorate an outside tree! String popcorn, make ornaments out of birdseed (Roll a pinecone in peanut butter, then in birdseed!) and hang the goods on a real tree in the front yard.
Wake your kids up to see Christmas lights! (BONUS-this started as a last ditch attempt to get a sleepless toddler sleepy…and it was so special that we have done it every year since. Drive around until they’re asleep, or don’t) This is such a fun and special surprise. Get your kiddos all ready for the night, then announce that before they head to their beds, they must take a ride on “The Polar Express!” Load ‘em up, swing through Starbucks for some hot chocolate, and drive around looking at pretty lights. Think that will be boring for them? Ummm…they just got out of bedtime at the last minute. They will be stoked. Promise.
Celebrate St. Nicholas Day. It is on December 6th and it is the perfect opportunity to teach your little ones about giving, charity, and the true spirit of Christmas. We spend the day doing something kind for a stranger. In the past we have used the day to perform random acts of kindness all over town, purchase a toy for the Toys for Tots bin, adopt a family, or volunteer our (my) time. I read them the story of Saint Nicholas http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/who-is-st-nicholas/ and we go out on a mission to do what Saint Nicholas would do.
Have a cake tasting/cookie tasting party! This is a GREAT exercise for early readers/writers or even for older kids learning about research. You need about 6 different kinds of cake and/or cookies. Have your child make a chart with each one listed. Talk about the different tastes and textures as you take a bite of each one. Write down your observations and rate them one a scale of whatever (we did 1-5.) The cookie (cake) with the highest average score wins!
Pick out a special ornament. We go to the thrift shop for this one. This year, we picked out a Dr. Seuss hat to mark the year Eldon started reading, and a cute little vintage block to mark Max’s first Christmas. Cost? $2
Make a Wish List. This can be done at any age, but was especially special at this age. Eldon had no idea that this was a reading exercise (again…I’m tricky like that.) We went to Toys R Us with a pen and paper. We walked around the entiiiiiire store while Eldon pointed out what he wanted, with the catch that he had to sound it out and write it down himself. He parked himself smack in the middle of the aisles, on the floor, as he sounded out and recorded each item on his clipboard. It took up the better part of our afternoon, but it was the PERFECT mom and me date. Mainly because it was free, but also because his eyes lit up (duh, he was in a toy store) and he was SO proud of himself. The list will also become part of what I assume will be my very favorite collection. (They have a scan option for those of you with smart phones, but I reallllllllly strongly suggest doing it the old fashioned way.)
Have a hot chocolate stand! Do it to donate, do it for kids to earn their own gift giving money, or even just for money to keep. It doesn’t really matter, because it’s fun! I’m pretty sure it’s sorta illegal, but…meh. We’re a family of rebels over here.
I am leaving this list at 8. Relax….it will all be ok.