Close your eyes and think back upon your childhood memories surrounding the holidays. What stands out to you? Is it the smells wafting from the kitchen? Is it the taste of your grandma’s cookies? What about how you decorated the tree? There is so much magic around the holidays!
For me, I remember so many different little things, like how all the kids would wake up early and open our stockings while we waited for Mom and Dad to get up. I remember having a big Christmas breakfast that included a few signature dishes. The excitement of not knowing what Santa was going to bring (even after I stopped believing in him) was so much fun. Hearing the sounds of one of us playing Christmas songs on the piano. Fresh cut greenery from the woods behind our house on the mantel. Attending the candlelight service at church on Christmas Eve. Man, I could go on.
As a parent, the holiday has a new angle of consideration. What traditions do we want our children to remember? What feelings do we want them to have surrounding the holiday season? It can feel like a lot of pressure, but ultimately, every family is different and we get to choose what to focus on. Sure, there can be stress, but you can choose to not let that run you down and control your days.
I’m going to share some traditions we have at our house, but as my children grow older, some of these may change or we may add new ones. Going with the flow helps me to enjoy things way more.
Every year each child gets in his stocking an ornament related to something he did that year or were interested in. I label them with their name and the year. Ultimately, these will end up being a bit of a time capsule for them as they become adults and they’ll automatically have a collection of ornaments all their own.
Each year, I make a cube ornament with 4-5 pictures of our family that last year. It’s really fun to look back at the highlights of each year and how our family has changed. It doesn’t hurt these look amazing on the tree. I also make a version of these for both sets of grandparents each year and they treasure them greatly. Get yours at Nations Photo Lab! (I receive no incentive from them, folks)
4 Gift Rule:
If you follow me on Instagram (@amberwags) or Better Than Good Blog on Facebook, then you know in our house we use the 4 gift rule. Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read. We love this because it doesn’t allow for things to get out of control with toys, but also, it starts a conversation. We talk about wants versus needs or the importance of reading. We talk about not focusing so much on ‘things’ but on what the holiday is really about.
Every year we also have some type of experience gift. One year we left the day after Christmas to visit my parents. This year, our oldest wanted to try a new sport so he got lessons as a gift. Our youngest is really into trains, so for him we did a train ride. My parents always get the kids a zoo pass as their gift to the boys and it’s wonderful. This is an area of gift giving/receiving that I hope grows as they age. It is these experiences that enrich their lives so much more than a toy that brings momentary joy.
The day of Christmas is sacred to us. This is a day we can stay in our PJs all day if we want to without the pressure to go anywhere. Like my mom always did, this is often a day in which I make a bigger, special breakfast. We focus on enjoying time together or time to play with a new toy or read a new book. It’s meant to be a calm, relaxing day and we take full advantage.
Cookies for Neighbors:
Both my kiddos love to help me in the kitchen. So, it is no surprise that when it is cookie making time, they get super jazzed. They love to help roll out the dough, use the cookie cutters, and then, of course, decorate the cookies… before chowing down like little cookie monsters. When we’re all done, we deliver cookies to the families on our cul de sac. We also walk around the neighborhood looking for the house we think is decorated the best and give them a plate of cookies too.
My husband and I love delicious adult beverages. Every year we relish the releases of a few special beers Great Lakes Christmas Ale and Highland Cold Mountain. Yum, yum, and yum! Sometimes we’ll make a mulled wine or some other special cocktail for the holiday. Everyone knows I love a special mimosa 🙂
What traditions do you have with your family? Do you gather together for karaoke? Does the whole family spend the season working on a puzzle together? Is cutting down your own tree a part of your holiday each year? Fill us in! Maybe something you share will help someone else to have their best Christmas ever.