The holiday season is upon us. What we remember as a magical component of our childhood turns into magical moments we witness through the sparkle of our children’s eyes. Staples and traditions that have been passed down for generations will continue on and new traditions will form. With all of the season’s wonder surrounding us, maybe it’s a good time to consider what traditions are worth holding on to and adopting as your own. Here are the top ten holiday traditions to consider starting with your family this year:
You might have your grandma’s sugar cookie recipe on lock or you might just opt for a roll of the pre-made dough from the refrigerated section like I do, but either way you swing it- cookie decorating is a top tradition. Anyone in the family can enjoy frosting and decorating. And then the finished cookies make an adorable feature for a holiday party or favor to a host (and saved as a special treat for Santa!). The best way to get the most of your cookie decorating experience? Include a smattering of sprinkles and embellishments to really encourage creativity, turn up the christmas music, and finish it off with enjoying a freshly made masterpiece to celebrate.
Cut Down Your Own Tree
One of the best ways to kick off the season is with decorating the Christmas Tree… but how can you turn that into a longer experience? By visiting a Christmas Tree farm! Many Christmas Tree farms will have a cut-your-own option which includes walking through a forest of trees and having the entire family find the absolute very best Christmas tree. Some farms will have an entire experience prepared for you with a visiting Santa Claus, hot chocolate, or hay rides. Check your local City Mom Collective site to see if they have a recommendation!
Whether it’s hot chocolate at the Christmas tree farm or hot chocolate at home around the fireplace, it is always the best way to warm bellies and memories during the winter months. Enjoying a warm treat with your kids is a simple but powerful way to bond over the holidays. Gather fun toppings like marshmallows, whipped cream, and chocolate shavings to make it extra-special for the whole family.
Hide The Pickle
If you don’t know about the pickle, it’s time you learned. Supposedly from German tradition; the lucky winner who finds the hidden pickle ornament on the tree Christmas day earns an extra present directly from Santa Claus. Once everyone has finished their gift exchanges, the competition of I-Spy begins with the goal of locating the coveted (and camouflaged) green pickle ornament. The pre-wrapped bonus present is usually something that everyone would enjoy!
Extended Family Christmas Eve
For those who are able- inviting extended family over for Christmas Eve is a heartfelt way to really embrace the love of the season. While not everyone has family close-by, I’ve seen the magic of generations coming together to sit in the magic of the Christmas spirit- and the tradition is a powerful one. Come together and read the classic ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas aloud, enjoy a potluck spread of favorite meals, and catch up on the past year’s events.
Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never done this- but what a neat tradition, to go caroling as a family? Call and check your local nursing home and see if they’d like young carolers to visit during the season or head door-to-door on the previous month’s trick-or-treating path. Invite your friends and make it an entire evening event (complete with hot chocolate, of course).
Help the Less Fortunate
Give back this season however you and your family are able. Reach out to your local soup kitchen or food pantry, ring bells at the grocery store, or go through less-used toys and discuss the topic in an age-appropriate way to convey that not everyone has the same luxuries that many of us take for granted. Helping the less fortunate is not only a great tradition, but it’s a great life lesson in empathy and gratitude.
Christmas Movie Night
Spend time together as a family with one of the thousands of amazing Christmas movies out there. Turn it into a special event complete with popcorn, later bedtimes, and special jammies. We’ve found great classics and new flicks on almost every major streaming service and recommend The Polar Express, Netlifx’s The Grinch, and The Elf.
Elf on the Shelf
While I’ve read a few hilarious angry-lettered blog posts penned by moms who are tired of moving the dang elf, I think it’s a fun and light-hearted tradition. For those who don’t know, the Elf on the Shelf is sent from the North Pole in order to help Santa keep a better eye on kids behavior. The kids name their special Elf assigned to them from Santa Claus, and the Elf flies back to the North Pole each night to report to Santa on the day’s activities. When he returns from his trip, he finds a new location somewhere in the house. A lot of elves can be funny or mischievous, which keeps it fun for the entire family, but the elf is also a handy visual cue for the kids to remember to be on their best behavior.
Book Advent Calendar
An advent calendar isn’t a new concept (and have you seen that Aldi wine one?!) but I heard of this new spin on it, and fell in love with the idea. The summary of the idea is to wrap up twenty-five Christmas/Winter/Holiday themed books and let the kids pick one to open each night until Christmas. It’s a special time for the family to come together and read- and everyone has a hint of glee in discovering which book might be unwrapped that night. If you want to take it over-the-top, maybe include some hot chocolate again just for good measure.
While there are plenty of great traditions out there- new and old- these are the top ten I recommend to adopt this year. However, the underlying reason for each of these traditions is only one thing (and, no, it’s not hot chocolate)- it’s love. Through the chaos of everyday life, schoolwork, the fast-paced summer, and these children that just keep growing up… slowing down and feeling the sheer love within the confines of our own families is the ultimate way to enjoy this holiday season.