I remember a Christmas many years ago when my oldest was four years old and our second was just barely one. I’d kind of gone all out that year and there were presents, presents and more presents for everyone in the family. I originally thought it was going to be the perfect Christmas. It took us all day to open gifts, we visited both families and by the time we got home that Christmas night I was sick—super sick. I didn’t know it at the time but it was the start of a 3 week bout where each member of the family suffered from influenza. One of the sick-filled days I had piled all the presents under the tree and there they also sat for three weeks while all my husband and I did was try to get up enough energy to keep ourselves and our 2 kids fed.
And then 3 weeks later when I finally came out the influenza fog, I spent one afternoon going through “Mount Present” and came to the sudden realization that all those presents weren’t necessary. They didn’t make Christmas Christmas. They were just more stuff. And after a bout with influenza I wasn’t about stuff….I was just so grateful to get out of bed and that my children were healthy again.
I think I learned my lesson that year (although I worry my husband would disagree) but after that I have made a conscious effort to simplify the holiday season but still make it memorable. So, this year I have been brainstorming how to make the holidays more meaningful without spending tons of money. Some of the following ideas are ones we have done for years…and others are some I have been brainstorming for this year (the extra stocking!). Hopefully you can find a new idea or two to add to your family traditions.
10 Ways to Make the Holiday Season Memorable
Number #1. Use an old family recipe to bake–I know as a mom especially if you have young children that the clean up from baking with kids can take much longer than the event….but remember that those recipes and memories will be passed down to their children.
Number #2. Pile everyone in the car and drive to see Christmas lights in a new neighborhood–Make sure the Christmas Carols are being sung (even the teenagers will eventually join in singing) and enjoy the wonder as you drive and enjoy the magic of Christmas lights.
Number #3. Draw names in your family and make one handmade gift for the name you drew from things already in your house–This idea was one that we did a few years ago in our family and it was one of the gifts that my kids still talk about. These gifts can be made out of wood, fabric, or even a paper letter or card to the other person. You will be absolutely amazed at what your kids can come up with.
Number #4. Make paper snowflakes and take them to a Care Center to brighten a window display–There is just so much fun to be had with white paper and scissors. And there are so many fun shapes to make too. All you have to do is google snowflake patterns and you can find anything from Elsa to Anna to Star Wars.
Number #5. Read A Christmas Carol (or anther meaningful Christmas story) as a family–Spend 15-20 as a family gathered all together each night in December in your jammies and blankets and pillows making memories while reading a Christmas classic story. It is so worth those moments.
Number #6. Have a “toy drive” in your own toy room–Talk to your children about giving to boys and girls in need and then hold a “toy drive” in your own toy room. Wrap up gently used toys to give to a drop-in children’s day care. As much as you think this is a hard concept for children—they actually get it! And their sharing hearts will warm yours.
Number #7– Host a neighborhood snow and hot chocolate party–Kids and snow always equals a party. Invite a few friends over to play in the snow and then have a cup of warm cocoa. And make sure you are out there too! Enjoy it with your kids and don’t just watch from the sidelines.
Number #8. Family Movie Night–This has become a weekly tradition in our family but around Christmas time, we love to pop some popcorn mixed with chocolate treats and watch a Christmas movie.
Number #9. Hang an extra stocking on the mantle this year–As you shop for Christmas gifts (especially when your children are with you) buy something small for the extra stocking. Some ideas could be canned food at the grocery store, soap or other toiletries, or a small puzzle or toy for a child. Then a couple of days before Christmas, deliver it to a homeless shelter or a women’s shelter.
Number #10. Keep a gratitude list–Hang a piece of paper on the refrigerator to keep track of all the service that has been given to you or that you have seen or done throughout the month of December. You will be amazed at how much you can be thankful for this time of year. It will help make your spirits truly bright.
Here’s to a meaningful and wonderful Holiday for all!