Several weeks ago, I blogged about my desire to share ideas for Christmas tradtions. Many of you commented/wrote me, and I have quite a few of my own, so I thought I'd better share before it was too late (or maybe to give you a jump start for next year). I was able to speak on this topic to my MOPS group earlier this month and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. This may be long, but I'll try to break it into sections. Hopefully, you can walk away with a some inspiration.
Advent Ideas (Advent is our preparation for the coming of Christ)
*Advent Candle Wreath—a wreath with 3 purple candles, 1 red candle and 1 white candle. It is done the 4 Sundays before Christmas and on Christmas day. You can find advent “family night” programs online or follow one that your church may be doing.
*Advent Calendars—Open a new window each day to count down to Christmas Eve. Can also make your own using red and green paper links, wrap 24 small gifts, etc.
*Advent Nativity Calendar—Put out a new piece of the Nativity each day
*Advent Tree—Put a candle on the tree each day to represent a prayer made that day.
*Make Ornamenents for a Jesse Tree--See link here.
Games & Fun
*Do Christmas Coloring Books or Jigsaw Puzzles
*Christmas Storybooks—Read special Christmas stories. Buy a new one each year or check out special stories from the library. My mom started the tradition of buying us a new one yearly and I continue it to this day! It's one of my favorite traditions (these books are only brought out at Christmas).
*Christmas Music—After Thanksgiving start playing your favorite Christmas CDs. Buy a new one each year (my friend Laurie and her husband do this yearly and I love it).
*Christmas Ornament—Buy one special ornament for each family member each year. Especially fun for kids and when they grow up, they can take them with them. Again, another that my family did and now, I'm doing with my own family.
*Draw Names for Stockings—when the children are old enough, have all family members draw names for stockings and fill accordingly.
*Research Favorite Christmas Traditions—Find out why we put up trees, hang stockings, sing carols, etc, and teach your children.
*Make your own Christmas crafts
*Find activities around town and go!
Thinking of Others
*Christmas Card Prayers—As you get Christmas cards in the mail, hang them up or put them in a basket. Each night at dinner, pick one of the cards and pray for the family that sent it to you.
*Participate in Christmas Giving—do Samaritan’s Purse, Salvation Army, Toys for Tots, gifts/cards for soldiers, caroling at a nursing home, write thank-you cards to people who help you all year, etc.
*Christmas Jar—put out a jar to collect spare change throughout the month of December and after Christmas, count the money and decide how you want to use it as a family to help someone in need. After I shared this at MOPS, one mom said that it might be a good idea to keep this jar out all year long to collect spare change in, and I think this is even better!
*Getting a Tree/Putting up the Tree—Set aside time as a family to go find or set up your Christmas tree. Play Christmas music, have a special meal (could be dinner at Chick-fil-a) or have a special snack when done (hot apple cidar and cookies). Talk about past Christmases and share favorite ornaments
*Setting up Nativities—Have at least one special Nativity scene. Talk about the first Christmas. It may be fun to watch the Nativity Story ahead of time. Put yourself in the story and tell what you’d be thinking. You may want to keep Jesus out of the scene until Christmas Day. I will throw in that I'm quite passionate about having a nativity set that is not breakable so your kids can play with it (at least have one your kids can play with). Growing up, my parents had a set by Fontanini and now, I do, as well. Plus, I LOVE the authentic feel is has; very rustic and true-to-life (i.e. not a caucausian Jesus). :) Click here to see the set.
*Decorate a Gingerbread House Together
*Baking Day—Set aside a special day to do your Christmas baking. You may want to pick some family favorites or try a couple new ones. Do with your family or perhaps with girlfriends only.
*Cookie Exchange—Gather friends and each bake several dozen cookies of different kinds. Swap the cookies so that you each go home with many different kinds of cookies.
*Traditional Meals—Every year have the same meal on Christmas morning (or whenever works for your family.
*Have an Annual Wassail Party--Invite friends and family over for hot wassail, Christmas goodies, and good times.
Christmas Eve Traditions
*New PJs—Each year let everyone open one present right before bed—new Christmas PJs. Cute for Christmas morning pictures! Or, open another gift or do stockings the night before.
*Let your kiddos sleep in the same room together and get up together the next day.
*Church Candlelight Service—Find a church in your area that has a service.
*Drive around town to look at lights
Christmas Day Traditions
*Read the Christmas Story--Before any other events take place, read the story together and pray to thank God for the most precious gift we can receive!
*Open Baby Jesus as your First Gift –wrap baby Jesus from any and all Nativity scenes that you have and open that as your first Christmas present.
*Open Presents One at a Time—to remind us that we are giving and receiving, and to enjoy the excitement of one another. I am quite passionate about this one. After all, shouldn't the kiddos have the opportunity to thank the person who gave them each gift? And enjoy it momentarily before ripping into the next one? And, isn't this a good opportunity to teach them patience and to share in the joy of others' getting gifts, as well?
*Have a Birthday Party for Jesus—have a cake, sing happy birthday to Jesus (idea for the cake—make it pure white with pure white frosting for the purity of Christ, use purple candles for His royalty and decorate with a small nativity scene