One of my little ones came up to me with tears in her eyes a few days ago and told me that sometimes when she thinks about things she is happy or excited about she feels like she’s going to cry, but didn’t understand why. What a sweetheart. I explained about happy tears and discovered what she was feeling really excited about was Christmas approaching.
Christmas is our favourite time of year around here. But not just the day; the whole month of December leading up to it. We’re all SO excited it’s almost here again! I know just how my little happy crier feels. The togetherness, the joy, the creating, the food, the magic. Yes please!
“We use traditions and rituals to inspire us, to bring us together and to deepen the grooves of a message we hope our kids know well–that no matter what they do, where they go or what happens in their lives, there are comforting constants as sure as the sun above, amid all the things that change–and that is that they are loved and they belong.” -Kelle Hampton
Traditions are important to me, for all the reasons Kelle said so perfectly above. And not just at Christmas, although it does feel like an extra special time, packed full of traditions we only get to enjoy once a year. These rituals make us feel that we belong, that we’re part of something. They feel like home.
As parents, it’s mostly up to us to create these traditions. We are the chief magic makers. So I thought I’d share some of the ways we do that here. Below are some of the comforting traditions that make the Christmas season magical in our home…
The Advent Calendar
Every year, since my eldest was tiny, we do an advent calendar. It’s one I made myself and I put new things in every year. There are always crafts, baking, special events, acts of kindness, and things like that. This is probably the highlight of December. The girls take turns picking out each day and love doing all the activities. Here’s what’s in the calendar this year…
Make an advent countdown spiral from clay
Make some beeswax candles and clay candle holders
Do a Christmas art class (from Masterpiece Society)
Make Salt Dough gift tags
Make some Christmas tree ornaments from magic clay
Bake and decorate gingerbread houses
Bake some Christmas cookies for the neighbours
Have a Christmas party with friends
Go ice skating
Make a starry wall hanging
Make a dried orange garland
Buy a gift for someone in need
Make coffee filter Christmas trees
Make some Santa binoculars
Christmas Poetry Teatime
Bake some reindeer cookies
Construct a Christmas joke teller
Christmas digital escape room
Make a nativity diorama
Go and look at the Christmas lights tonight
Write a letter to a family member
Bake a treat for Santa
Have a Christmas Carol dance party
Put on a Christmas eve play or puppet show
On Christmas day I just put some candy canes in the pocket. We also have so many more things we want to bake or create that we do more than this list, ha! But they love having a surprise activity prepared for them. They check the calendar first thing every morning when everyone wakes.
During December we switch our read alouds to all Christmas books. Mostly picture books. Over the years we’ve collected quite a few. You can find our favourites here.
I mean of COURSE decorating, right? The tree, the twinkly lights, the handmade ornaments. All of that. This year I’m also surprising the kids with a new tradition. I’ve ordered some Christmas bedding and hubby and I are going to secretly change all the doona covers to Christmas ones while they are sleeping, so they wake up on December 1st to a whole new level of festiveness! I think they’re going to squeal!
Matchy Matchy Christmas Clothes
In December you’ll find us stylin’ in our matching Christmas PJ’s. Anything that adds to the fun and connection, and I think all the little things really do. I also make them matching Christmas outfits to wear during December, and to Christmas parties, etc.
So many Christmas movies! Here’s our list this year…
1. Miracle on 34th Street
3. The Santa Claus
4. Home Alone
6. A Christmas Carol
7. The Grinch
8. Mr Bean’s Holiday
9. The Christmas Chronicles
11. The Polar Express
12. Fred Claus
One’s we’ll watch without the kids:
1. Love Actually (every year lol)
2. The Family Stone
3. National Lampoons Christmas Vacation
4. Love the Coopers
5. Four Christmases
6. The Holiday
8. Let it Snow
10. Christmas with the Kranks
11. Christmas Unwrapped
12. While You Were Sleeping
We always have music playing during the day here, and in December it’s exclusively carols happening. I hope the neighbours are enjoying it, haha. The girls and I are right into the ‘Christmas Pop’ playlist on Spotify.
Surely there’s never enough book recommendations. We do a book club with our homeschool group every month, and the girls listen to audiobooks every night before falling asleep. This year the plans are…
1. Greenglass House
3. A boy called Christmas
4. The Christmasaurus (for the little ones)
Those are our most favourite Christmas traditions! What about you? What are your favourites?