Christmas is a very special time of year. It is a time for families to get together and enjoy the warmth and good cheer that the season brings together. However, some people might think that you can’t have a good Christmas unless you have a lot of money to buy expensive gifts; nothing could be further from the truth.
Every family should start their own Christmas traditions. We started ours after the birth of our first child. For her second Christmas we introduced the Christmas Elf.
The Christmas Elf
The way this works is after the stockings have been hung up the Elf visits and leaves gifts in the stockings. The Elf started bringing gifts 12 days before Christmas and came every other day until a few days before Christmas Eve then the Elf came every day.
We told our little girl that the Elf gets tired bringing gifts to every good little boy and girl so he takes a rest every other day until the last few days when he gets help from all of Santa’s other Elves.
The gifts that we purchased were simple little gifts like craft items, dolls, and children’s DVD’s. Each day our child awoke asking “what did the elf bring.” This kept the excitement of the Christmas giving going until the big celebration of Christmas morning. It also kept our child from wondering what all the presents were under the tree.
The Portable North Pole
As for Santa we also get a personalized message from Santa for our child. The Portable North Pole (PNP) is a web site where you can get a free message for your child from Santa or get an elaborate message with things that your child has done over the year incorporated into the message. The message is presented as a video delivered to your child telling them that they have either been placed on the naughty or the nice list. You can find the PNP at http://www.portablenorthpole.com/home . This is a fun time for everyone on your list not just for children. For just $3.99 (%5 donated to children’s hospitals) the PNP includes:
- A 6 minute long video
- Unique video clips
- A variety of scenarios
- 5 personal pictures
- Unlimited online viewing during the Christmas season
- A personalized bonus video sent on Christmas Eve
Some of the other items you can purchase include letters, certificates, puzzles, door hangers, stickers, and calls from Santa.
Elf on a Shelf
As your child gets older it may be easier for them to tell someone other than Santa or you what they want for Christmas. Elf on the shelf is great for getting children to talk about what they want. The elf on the shelf is a special scout elf sent by Santa to sit anywhere where your child can talk to it. The elf is there to gather information for Santa and reports back to Santa each night to tell him about what was going on in your household.
Surprisingly when your child knows why the elf is there they are on their best behavior around the elf. The elf usually arrives shortly after Thanksgiving and then leaves on Christmas Eve until the next year. For more information on the Elf on the shelf go to http://www.elfontheshelf.com/content/about-us .
Holiday Baking as a Family
Baking is always something we do around the house during the holiday season. I like to make a batch of homemade cinnamon rolls on Christmas Eve. This is not only a delicious treat but it also makes the house smell good.
Get your children involved in making treats for Christmas Eve too by having them bake cookies for Santa. Of course you will have to let them know which cookies Santa likes best. Just before they go to bed for the night they can leave out a plate of fresh baked cookies and a cup of hot cocoa or a glass of cold milk. Santa can never eat too many cookies on his long journey.
Ideas on Inexpensive Christmas Activities for Families
The following are some easy and inexpensive ideas that you can use to make your Christmas special every year, even though you don’t have a lot of money. If you make these together with the family and maybe pick a few people in your lives who could use some holiday cheer, these activities could turn into a nice Christmas tradition.
Chocolate Bar Gift
Turning a simple chocolate bar into an attractive gift: Who’d ever thought that a candy bar could be so special. Well, it can be. All you need is some wrapping paper, tape, and some ribbons. Simply wrap the chocolate bar in some colorful wrapping paper. Use double-sided tape so that it doesn’t show. Tie an attractive ribbon around it and attach a special trinket like a car or maybe a colorful lollipop, and you have a Christmas that is not only beautiful, but delicious also.
Mason Jar Gifts
Using an ordinary Mason jar to make a decadent gift: for this inexpensive treat, all you need is a Mason jar, some hot chocolate mix, marshmallows, and wrapping paper. Simply empty a packet of hot chocolate mix into the bottom of the jar, add marshmallows. Use decorative wrapping paper to cover the lid and accentuate the jar; add a name tag and someone in the family will be receiving just what they need to warm them up on that cold Christmas morning.
Decorate a Candle
Turning a scented candle into a thoughtful gift: for this, all you’ll need is a scented candle, wrapping paper, and some ribbons. Use the decorative wrapping paper to wrap the scented
candle, tie with a ribbon, and some will be very thankful that you remembered what their favorite fragrance was.
Homemade Gifts for Friends
How to turn an ordinary paper bag into a thoughtful gift: sometimes the simplest gifts are the most meaningful. This is especially true with the paper bag gift. All you need is a paper bag and a few inexpensive trinkets, like lipstick and mascara, to put into it. First, decorate the bag with your heart—any simple design will do—fill with the inexpensive gifts and present it to your friend.
Make a Cookie Gift
How about using a Mason jar as a chocolate chip cookie all-in-one gift? For this novel idea, all you need is a Mason jar, the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies, and some wrapping. First, fill the Mason jar with the ingredients pre-measured. Then, decorate the jar’s lid with some of the wrapping paper. Tie with a ribbon and add a name tag with the name of the recipient on it and someone won’t be able to wait until they get home to try out this thoughtful recipe.
Special Gifts for Grandparents
The deck-of-cards gift: this one is bound to make someone very happy if only for the time and thought you had to put into it. This is a great gift idea for grandparents from grandkids. Take one ordinary deck of playing cards. On the front of the deck, write 52 reasons why I love you. Then, write out the 52 reasons, one on each card, you love this special person. If you like, you can decorate the deck with a nice ribbon to accentuate the gift. But, for anyone reading those 52 reasons that will be enough of a decoration.
More Ideas on Family Traditions to Start
Some traditions you can do around the Neighborhood include:
- Get some friends together and go caroling
- See a local production of ‘The Nutcracker,’ ‘A Christmas Carol,’ or another holiday show
- Get in the car, turn on your holiday playlist, and find brightly lit houses
- Attend local holiday events
- Visit Santa! Do your research and find out when and where he will be
- Go sledding, ice skating, or other outdoor winter activity with your family
Traditions that can be done at home with the family:
- Read a book every night before bed the last few nights before Christmas
- Go to a tree farm to pick out a tree that the whole family will trim
- Start an advent calendar
- Watch a movie like “Miracle on 34th Street”, “Charlie Brown Christmas”, or “Shrek the Halls”
- Put up a special ornament each year personalized with your children’s names
- Volunteer at the local soup kitchen or animal shelter
- Bring some cheer to some senior citizens in your area.
Keep It Simple – Give to Others
Again, beginning a Christmas doesn’t have to be fancy or extravagant; all it takes is a little heart. Simple gift ideas really bring home the meaning of “it’s the thought that counts.” So, the next time you find yourself struggling to come up with a suitable gift for someone special, you may already have the ingredients for a perfect gift lying around the house.
And you can even take this a step further by handing out these homemade gifts to people who are struggling or may have no family of their own. This can become a great family tradition for teaching your kids to be charitable and caring for others. Think of people in your neighbor, at church or at school whose day would be brighten my such a gesture.
There are so many wonderful Christmas traditions, but why not create your own for your family. Consider these ideas for making your own family tradition that reflects the giving nature of this holiday. Just remember though, that whatever you do, you should do it as a family. After all Christmas is about families and is a time to build lifelong memories with each other.