For many years, our family was so steeped in Christmas traditions from our extended families, we didn’t have any room for our own. But gradually we have found space for traditions that belong to our little troupe. Here are some of our favorites:
1. Read one Christmas story each night. I have a small collection of Christmas books that I wrap and place under the tree by December 1st. Each night as a sort of countdown, we open one book and read it before bed. Even though it is a book they have heard many times, there is, “Ahh! That book!” squeal when they open the package. Don’t own 24 Christmas books? Wrap up Christmas books from the library.
2. Give one ornament to your child each year to build their own collection. This is a Christmas tradition I learned from my sister in law. Each year of her life, her mother had given her an ornament. Many coincided with special trips they had taken that year or a big event in her life. When she married, she had a tree full of special ornaments.
3. Let your children decorate their bedrooms for Christmas. I have a collection of Christmas decorations I no longer use around my home. Instead of giving them away, I put them in a “children’s decor” box and let my girls decorate their bedrooms however they wish for Christmas. This often included extra Christmas lights. They love wrapping lights around their bed posts and making their rooms special for Christmas.
4. Display Santa photos. One year, I collected the random photos of my children on Santa’s lap and displayed them together. It tells a story of their growth through the many Christmas holidays. I love how it looks and now make sure to get a family photo with Santa each year to add to the collection.
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5. Collect favorite Christmas cards in a scrapbook. At the end of the season, I always have a hard time throwing away Christmas cards. I bought an empty scrapbook on clearance and started saving special cards. Now I display it on the coffee table as part of our Christmas decor. It is a lot of fun to look back at the cards we’ve given and received through the years.
6. Gifts from the heart. A few years ago, our family started “gifts from the heart.” This means a giving gift that not just anyone could give–it is a gift of service or time. It requires a little more thought than choosing a purse at Dillard’s, but has become one of our favorite Christmas traditions.
One year my husband gave me a paint brush with a promise to paint our bedroom over the Christmas break. It was awesome. Another year, my daughter gave my husband a “Nutcracker Bowler” with a coupon for a bowling date together. Once I gave my daughter two identical sweaters–one for her and one for her best friend. They wore their sweaters when I took them both to the movies before New Year’s. Of all our Christmas traditions, this one has by far created the most family memories.