They don’t call it “the most wonderful time of the year” for nothing. Wherever Christmas is celebrated, it doesn’t fail to uplift the spirit and put a warm glow in everyone with its message of love, hope and giving.
For kids especially, Christmas morning is something they look forward to when they can finally open their presents. For parents, the occasion can become even more memorable for everyone not only because of the best Christmas gifts they can give to their loved ones or having cool stocking stuffers hanging by the fireplace but, most importantly, by establishing holiday family traditions that give more meaning to the season and make it more special.
Photo by Ben White
You may already have yours like attending the midnight mass on Christmas Eve or sharing a Christmas feast at the stroke of midnight, but there are a lot more that will definitely make the season more memorable and meaningful.
This is a great way to teach kids the gift of giving. On Christmas Eve, or even for 12 days before Christmas, have your kids go around the neighborhood secretly leaving treats at the doorsteps of their less fortunate neighbors. The fun is in not letting the recipient know who gave the gift, and it becomes an adventure of sorts for the little ones. They will soon realize that being of help to others is even more fun than just receiving gifts.
Shoeboxes for Charity
Similar to the “Secret Santa” tradition, this one expands on the idea by choosing recipients from impoverished countries. Kids can help pack several shoeboxes for charity with inexpensive items that can make a difference in the lives of poor people from overseas. The boxes can include school supplies, toiletries, toys, clothing items, even personal notes that contain words of friendship and encouragement.
Don’t include food (since it may spoil before reaching the recipient), damaged items, breakable items, or weapons. These boxes can be sent through charitable institutions that take care of distributing the gifts to poor countries around the world.
Hunting for Gifts
This should be fun all right. Instead of the young ones waking up on Christmas morning and finding their gifts waiting for them under the tree, why not add a little bit more excitement by hiding their presents and leaving clues as to their whereabouts? Just make sure the difficulty level matches the age and skills of the kids so that the activity won’t frustrate them and ruin Christmas. You may even up the stakes by offering an additional reward to the one who finds all of their gifts first.
Countdown to Christmas
Children may already be familiar with the Nativity scene, but you can add excitement to the whole thing by building it piece by piece over a period of several days and culminating on Christmas Eve.
You may want to get the book Countdown to Christmas, which not only tells the story of Jesus’ birth, but also serves as guide as you build the manger scene in 15 days. It provides a Bible verse for each piece added, making the whole activity truly enlightening to the kids.
Family Treat at the Tree Farm
What better way to kick off the holidays than to visit a tree farm to find the perfect Christmas tree to sit next to your fireplace? You can make the trip even more fun and memorable by lugging along a Thermos filled with hot cocoa and even cookies in case the young ones get hungry on the road.
There is also the added bonus of the tree farm offering more than just trees: there are hayrides, sleigh rides, and other activities that the whole family will surely enjoy.
About a week before Christmas, you can gather every member of the family for the great family cookie baking party. Have the kids cut out the sugar cookies and frost them. For added fun, why not have a flour fight that should leave everyone caked in white? Then pose in front of the Christmas tree for a family picture? Done annually and the pictures collected in a photo album, you can get to see the children grow up through those photos from your cookie baking party.
Feast on Christmas Eve
Of course, there’s nothing like celebrating the birth of Christ than with a big feast on Christmas Eve before the clock strikes 12. Gather every member of the family around the dinner table so that they can partake of the food that you have been preparing all day. To wake up sleepyheads, you can ask each one what they expect their Christmas gifts would be, or to guess what the others will receive. Don’t forget to hug and wish everyone a happy Christmas at the stroke of midnight!
These are just some of the suggested Christmas traditions that you can start with your family to make the holiday season a truly memorable occasion. If you have your own already or got some ideas that you would like to try but would want to get feedback from others first, just sound off at the comments section below.
By Clara Weber