Piles of presents and gingerbread cookies may make your family smile during the holidays, but it’s actually treasured traditions that warm the heart year after year. It’s never a season too late to start brand new holiday traditions and create memories your family can fondly look back on for years.
The most special holiday seasons are the ones during childhood when you believed in Santa and Christmas magic was real. Part of the Christmas spirit as parents is to reflect on your Christmas traditions when you were children and re-create the same magic for your own kids. It’s truly the little moments that matter most during this special time of year. Warm your home with these Christmas traditions that your little ones will remember forever.
- Christmas Lights Tour: Pick a night to bundle up and discover the beautiful Christmas lights of nearby neighborhoods and parks. Play favorite Christmas tunes in the car as your family tours streets lit-up with glowing homes, trees and outdoor decorations. Pack marshmallow-topped hot cocoas to-go and other sweet treats like Christmas Cake Pops to enjoy as you drive past one enchanting display after another.
- DIY Decorating: No Christmas decoration or tree ornament is as meaningful and original as the ones handcrafted together as a family. Make a homemade garland out of strung popcorn or snowflakes crafted out of felt. HGTV.com offers 20 homemade holiday ornaments and decorations ideas made out of things like oranges or cookie cutters.
- Caroling at Grandma’s: Kids can’t help but sing along to jolly Christmas carols. Warm Grandma’s heart and take the kids caroling at her house — “Over The River and Through the Woods” is a great tune to lead the way. And you can really make Grandma smile. Bring over homemade cookies.
- Table Setting: If you’re hosting Christmas dinner this year, involve the kids in decorating the table setting. Ask them to choose their favorite holiday centerpiece and what accents they’d like to include, such as acorns, holly or ornament favors. The kids will love to be part of the decorating process and feel valued by sharing their input.
- Sending Holiday Spirit: Share the virtue of thoughtful giving and send a beautiful holiday bouquet to a long-distance loved one who may be alone at Christmas. Your kids can also choose a new toy or book to donate to a charity like Toys for Tots.
- Snowman: Be ready for the first big snowfall with snow clothes and a snowman decorating kit. Building a snowman creates cherished memories, especially on a white Christmas. After the snow day, warm up with cups of hot cocoa and flannel PJs.
Throughout the years, Christmases can inevitably change. The kids go off to college, move away from home and everyone’s living in different cities. Make Christmas the one time of year the whole family is together. Rather than invite everyone to fly home, make the week of Christmas the time of year for an annual family vacation. Plan a trip for the family to cozy up in a cabin at a lodge in snowy Lake Tahoe or escape the cold weather at a beach in the Caribbean.
If a vacation away from home feels too unconventional, host a family reunion weekend or holiday bash to reunite all of the extended family members. Of course, traveling can be expensive, but faraway loved ones can still spend time together on Christmas Eve or Day through virtual platforms like Google Hangouts or Skype Group Video Chat.
Get into the spirit of the season with a friendly neighborhood Christmas lights display contest. (A contest is also fun motivation to finally string those lights and hang up the wreaths outside before December 25th.) Invite neighbors to participate, provide prizes and designate three judges to determine first-, second-and third-place winners. Then, end the Christmas competition with a neighborhood potluck where everyone can indulge on sweet treats like Chocolate Covered Strawberries and cheers with gourmet wine.