Decorating the tree, baking cookies for Santa, or hiding your Elf On The Shelf for your kids to discover. These types of Christmas traditions have become so commonplace that your family may already be doing them. This year, why not create some new Christmas traditions with your family?
We’ve put together a few ideas that are simple, meaningful and bound to create more fond memories this holiday season. The best part about traditions is you can make them your own by adding a special twist that everyone remembers, year after year!
Christmas Count-Down Traditions
Tired of your kids asking you how many more days there are until Christmas? Look for some creative ideas for counting down the days. It’s easy enough to purchase a countdown calendar from the store, but you have to remember to change it each day. There’s also the Advent calendars that have a small piece of chocolate behind each door.
If you want something a bit more creative, consider making a paper chain. Count the number of days until Christmas and add that many links to the chain. Each day, tear one off. This is a good visual indicator for small children who know a shorter chain means it's closer to Christmas Day!
A current popular trend is to wrap up 24 books, then have your child open one each night for their bedtime story. This can get expensive if you’re buying brand-new books, so scout the thrift stores for books your kids might like.
Finally, it’s never a bad idea to think about others. Another popular trend is to create a reverse Advent calendar. Rather than getting a small chocolate or a present each day, you place a non-perishable food item into a box each day. By the end, you’ll have a large donation for the food bank.
Christmas is the perfect time to capture the passage of time, especially when it comes to watching your children grow bigger and bigger. One way to do this is to make handprint ornaments out of salt dough. If you do this each year, you’ll see how your child grows over time.
Frugal Gift Challenge
Almost everyone spends more than they'd like to on Christmas. If you’d like to cut back a bit without making anyone feel bad, consider starting a frugal gift challenge. Set a spending limit (around $5-$10) and make it fun to find gifts in this price range. For instance, you might set a price limit and instruct everyone to buy their gifts from a place like a dollar store or a thrift store. In doing this, you’re setting your expectations fairly low, so there’s a great chance that you’ll be surprised by what others find for you. After all, it's the thought that counts and all in the spirit of giving!
Annual Christmas Photos
Make a point of taking pictures with the family. It’s a good opportunity to see the changes over the years. Christmas photos with Santa are a time-honoured tradition, but don’t be afraid to keep it up long after the kids think they’re too old for this type of thing.
It’s also fun to take a similar family photo in the same place. For instance, you might take a Christmas-morning picture of everyone in their pyjamas in front of the tree.
Christmas Light Tour
Some places really go all-out when it comes to the outdoor Christmas decorations. Candy Cane Lane is a well-known place, but there may be some great homes in your neighbourhood too:
- Celebrate the Season at the Alberta Legislature
- Leduc Country Lights
- Magic of Lights at Castrol Raceway
Some families make this even more special by making it a surprise. They pretend that the kids are going to bed, but once they get to bed, they find a ticket under the pillow saying that the family is going on a surprise tour that night. It can be your family's version of the Polar Express!
The Christmas Eve Present
Having presents wrapped under the tree can be so tempting. One fun tradition is to allow everyone to open one present on Christmas Eve. Often, people choose to make this a present like pyjamas and a Christmas-themed movie for the family to watch before bed.
Those with older children, though, might want to incorporate the Icelandic tradition of Jólabókaflóð: the “Yule book flood.” People give each other new books on Christmas Eve, then they spend the night cozied up while reading their new books. It’s a relaxing way to spend the night before the true Christmas frenzy begins.
The best types of Christmas traditions are the ones that are meaningful for your family. Use our ideas as a starting point, but don’t be afraid to make them your own!