Family Activities, Kids, Motherhood, Parenting, Winter

Ideas of Holiday Traditions Your Family Will Love

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December is arguably my most favorite month of the year.

Sure, it’s usually cold in Minnesota, but I don’t mind the snow and cold one bit until AFTER the new year. It’s still new and pretty, and I’m 100% ok with a white Christmas!

I love everything about the holiday season, from the music and the cheery mood to the cheesy movies on TV and ALL of the traditions.

My only gripe is the month goes by so fast, it’s impossible to fit it all in (and stay sane), so I’m always left feeling like there were things I didn’t get to do.

In celebration of the most wonderful month of the year (in my humble opinion), we’ve got a list of wonderful holiday traditions that celebrate family, and make memories.

Ideas of Holiday Traditions your Family Will Love

25 Books for the 25 Days of Christmas – This is a fun tradition for kids who love to read books or have books read to them.

You take 25 winter/Christmas/holiday themed books and wrap them up individually. Then, the kids get to open one book each day in December, leading up to Christmas.

Since the books are seasonal, you can pack them away and reuse them the next year.

Once you feel like they’re getting a little stale, you can replace a few of them with new ones, or find someone else who does the same tradition and swap with them for the season!

Advent Calendars – Celebrating the 25 days of Christmas with a book a day is one variation of an advent calendar. A quick google search will give you a ton of advent calendar ideas.

As a kid, I loved the simple calendars with a piece of chocolate behind the cardboard door for each day in December leading up to Christmas; that’s a low cost, easy way to do advent calendars with your kids.

Or you can go all out, and come up with one activity a day as part of your advent calendar. Pinterest or Google can help if you need some ideas.

Celebrating St. Nick – Some people celebrate St. Nicholas Day (Dec 6th) by having their kids leave their shoes out for St. Nick.

The next morning, there is candy and some surprises filling their shoes!

Decorate Gingerbread Houses – We started the tradition of decorating gingerbread houses 4 or 5 years ago and it’s one of my favorite memories of each December.

We go the easy route and buy gingerbread house kits from the grocery store that had the gingerbread pieces premade, and come with candy and icing to hold it all together. Easy suits me just fine; it’s the process of making a (MESSY) gingerbread house together that I love.

If you’d rather make your own house from scratch or with graham crackers, you can do that too. It’s up to you! Your kids will love it either way.

Gingerbread Houses | Ideas of Holiday Traditions Your Family Will Love

Baking Christmas Cookies – Whether you make a simple dozen for your kids to decorate or you go all out and make dozens of a handful of varieties, it’s often the process of baking in the kitchen with your parents that kids remember.

For us Type A mamas, we need to remember that messes are ok because toddlers decorating their own cookies with colored frosting and sprinkles are messy.

I know my son loves it and I’ve got the photos to prove it, so I’m able to let my guard down and have fun with them. Plus, the cookies are delicious!

Baking Christmas Cookies | Ideas of Holiday Traditions Your Family Will Love

Look at Christmas Lights – A simple, cheap tradition is to take a drive in the dark and look at the Christmas lights people put up on their homes.

I have memories of doing this as a kid, and I hope my son has memories of doing the same when he’s older.

There are other options for light displays too, like the Winter Wonderland exhibit in Brainerd, or the wildly popular and huge Bentleyville light display in Duluth, MN.

Chances are, there’s something similar (of some size) in your city or town as well.

Bentleyville, Duluth Minnesota | Ideas of Holiday Traditions Your Family Will Love

Go Sledding – While not necessarily a holiday tradition (and obviously not available in all parts of the country), going sledding as a family is a fun way to spend a snowy weekend in December.

The same goes for skating at an ice rink as well.

Participate in the Giving Tree – One of my favorite traditions of the holiday season is to choose a name or two off of the Giving Trees that are scattered around our town. (Our church always has one set up at the start of the holiday season, and I know our local mall has a few with names on it as well. There are usually trees set up in most high traffic public areas.)

I love going shopping for the people on the list, hoping that what I pick brings them joy when they open their gifts.

I can’t wait until Raleigh can participate more and understand what we’re doing and why when we shop for the people on our Giving Tree tags. I think it will be a memory he carries with him too.

Ring the Salvation Army Red Kettle Bell This is a tradition my dad and I have done all of the last 8+ years except one. We pick one night, sign up, dress warm, and ring the Salvation Army Bell in hopes of gathering donations for the Red Kettle. I’m hoping to bring Raleigh in on the tradition too!

Consider Gift Giving Traditions for Your Family – Depending on things like budgets, gift needs and available space, setting limits on gift buying can be really helpful.

We play a dice game in my extended family so that it eliminates the need to buy gifts for all of the aunts, uncles and cousins in a large (and growing) extended family. Every participating family member brings 1 $10 gift, we play a game with dice, and everyone leaves with a $10 gift at the end of the night.

Another fun option is choosing Secret Santas. We played this in school, and it can be adapted for your family as well. The benefit, aside from being a fun game, is only needing to buy a present for the person you picked to be their Secret Santa.

For your own children, perhaps you might consider some type of gift limit such as a set dollar amount (eliminating the desire to overspend), or perhaps the fun tradition of the 4 Gifts. I heard about this via social media and loved it. Some parents get their children four gifts for Christmas: something you WANT, something you NEED, something to WEAR, something to READ. This is especially helpful if you have lots of extended family who give a lot of gifts.

This allows you to keep your family’s gifts to a meaningful minimum, knowing they’ll get a haul from extended family.

Do a December Declutter – This might not be an ultra popular tradition with children, but perhaps you can make it one by really driving home the giving/helping aspect of it. It will also impact older kids more than little kids who don’t have the understanding quite yet.

In preparation of the gift-giving holidays coming up, it’s a great idea to do a declutter sweep in order to make room in the house and heart of yourself and your kids for the new items that will be coming in.

You want to not only remove the broken and unwanted toys, but consider outgrown or even moderately played with but not favorite toys. You want to make space for your kids to enjoy their new things fully.

And if you just can’t part with the toys for good, put them in a tote and move them to the basement. That way, you have still created space for them to play with and enjoy the new things they will get.

Whether you pick one or two of these ideas of holiday traditions, or try to fit in a handful of them, we hope they help make your holiday season a little more magical!

Ideas of Holiday Traditions Your Family Will Love

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