As parents, it doesn’t take much to “wow” our children and create a memory that can last forever. The holidays are a wonderful time to instill family values, evoke childhood wonder and write cherished stories in your family books. Create some more magic this season by adding one of these fun family traditions to your holiday.
Time to pull out The Polar Express and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. For the month of December, try reading a different holiday book to your kids every night before bed. This is also a great opportunity to find books that introduce different cultures and celebrations to your kids.
Advent calendars are a great way to count and celebrate the days leading up to Christmas. You can create your own with items you have in your home (we used muslin bags and clothespins for this one). While many advent calendars are filled with treats, try mixing it up with coupons for a family activity or a special assignment to do something kind for someone.
There are numerous opportunities to teach our kids the spirit of giving throughout the holidays. Local churches and schools offer programs to adopt a family (your kids will love picking out presents for them) and community nursing homes often welcome visitors for caroling. Even your annual baking traditions can be used to teach giving. Decorate cookies and arrange plates to pass out to neighbors or service workers this year.
Every year, my daughter's friends come over for a North Pole Party where they make reindeer food concoctions from a giant reindeer treat bar. Each child is given a small labeled jar which they fill with a variety of reindeer favorites--cocoa, raisins, oats, bread crumbs, potato chips, magic flying powder (flour) and red and green glitter. They sprinkle the food in the driveway on Christmas Eve so the reindeer are kept busy while Santa's inside.
Surprise your little ones one night this season by loading them up in the car for a pajama light night. Pack a thermos of hot cocoa and some popcorn bags, play holiday tunes and drive through neighborhoods looking for the best light displays. Award points to passengers for whose side of the car wins the most lights.
One of my kids' favorite Christmas Eve traditions is setting up a runway in our driveway for the reindeer. All you need are some extra twinkle lights and a good extension cord. Sprinkle a little of that reindeer food in the middle, light their path and those reindeer will be lured right to your house with no problem.
Candlelight adds a magical touch to holidays. After missing the candlelight service on Christmas Eve one year, we decided to create our own memories at home. We cut paper drip stoppers for our candles, passed out one to each family member, turned off the lights and sang a couple of carols by candlelight. My kids smiled all the way through it, and a family tradition was born.
Want to see your kids go crazy with excitement this Christmas Eve? Give them a good Rudolf sighting by covering the lit end of a flashlight with a piece of red tissue paper. Arrange for a neighbor or friend to run around in the dark (far enough away that they won't be seen) with it, and have your kids look out the window. Their reaction? Guaranteed epic.
This tradition will make a wonderful keepsake in years to come. Leave a letter from Santa to your kids every year telling them what he loved about that year. Refer to specific events and traits of your child creating a great annual document to be saved. I've kept Santa's letter every year in my kids' baby books and love looking back at them.