It’s Christmas morning and one by one we sneak down to the fireplace to open our stockings. My mom always sneaks in a few pieces of chocolate, so I giggle at the thought of an early sugar rush. After the stockings are empty and everyone is present, we take turns opening gifts. Everyone is a star in our family Christmas. When it’s your turn to open a gift, all eyes are on you. When someone else is opening a gift, you give them your attention. Once the gifts are open, we share mom’s warm cardomom bread. The magic is in the little traditions, which make the bigger experience that much brighter. My favorite part of the holidays is sharing in these family’s holiday traditions.
The Lacey family will always have our traditions. Mom still uses a dedicated “Santa” wrapping paper and my cousin Caoimhe is still the first to rise on Christmas morning. Our traditions make our families unique. They help make the holiday season special, so we should cling to them. Traditions make the holidays magical for everyone, not just for kids.
Holiday Traditions to Try…
There are tons of holiday traditions. I encourage you to mix and match from these lists and check them out (even if the headings don’t apply). If I had enough time left in the season, I would definitely try them all!
If You Have Young Kids
Baking Cookies are a must for holiday traditions when you have kids, especially young ones. It’s fun (a little messy) and a great way to introduce your kids to cooking. As an added bonus, it also helps them practice their math skills! Check out these fun kid-friendly recipes for holiday cookies from The Kitchn.
One of the things we did as kids was leave cookies for Santa by the tree. But, I also love these ideas from Growing a Jeweled Rose for making the holidays magical for your kids. My personal favorites are the streamers across the doors and the reindeer food. The idea of having to bust through a bunch of streamers like the end of a race line sounds like SO MUCH FUN!
He sees you when you’re sleeping…
There is also the ever popular “Elf on the Shelf” phenomenon. There are tons of neat and easy ideas for making this popular holiday experience magical. Check out these awesome ideas from The Good Stuff for staging your Elf on the Shelf!
Finally, one thing that really helped me appreciate Christmas as a kid wasn’t getting all the toys. My parents always had us pick out toys to donate, too. They always told us that not everyone’s parents have the money to give their kids new toys. “Santa only has so many elves,” I remember my mom telling me once when I asked why Santa couldn’t give them gifts. “Sometimes he needs people like us to give him a hand.” I’m pretty sure this was followed by reminders of what Christmas is really about in the Christian faith. In any case, this conversation has stuck with me all these years. Besides, it’s a great way to introduce kids to charity and giving, which are such important themes of the holidays that sometimes get overshadowed.
For A Couple Without Kids
The holidays aren’t just about the kids. Sometimes it can be difficult to keep the magic in the holidays when there aren’t kids around. If there aren’t any young ones in your household, bring the magic into your season with these new holiday traditions.
Nobody loves hot chocolate more than I do (well, except maybe my sister, Sarah). So Society 19’s idea for a Hot Chocolate
Party definitely struck gold with me. There is NOTHING better than a cup of hot chocolate on a cold, wintery day!
Or, if you’re a little sentimental…
Create a Christmas Eve box with your spouse. Plan to have each of you put a small gift in the box along with other Christmas goodies. These goodies could be a Christmas movie to watch, treats to enjoy together, but don’t forget the Christmas jammies! For this and more ideas, check out this post from To Love, Honor, & Vacuum.
I also love this idea of the 12 Dates of Christmas from BlogHer. It can be hard to make time for dating your spouse amidst the business of life. On Christmas Eve, make 12 strips of paper and you both write down 6 date ideas you’d like to do. Then, put them in the envelope without looking and stick it to the refrigerator or a bulletin board. Then, when you have time a date night — pull out one of the strips! It sounds like a great way to make the holiday spirit last well into the next year!
For Empty Nesters or Those Too Far to Travel
Christmas can be hard once the kids move out, especially if they have to split time between you and their spouse’s family on the holidays. Or, if you’re like some of my extended family and live too far away to travel every Christmas (they live in Ireland — ka-ching! $$$). Here are some traditions to try when you’re on your own for the holidays.
If you’re looking for some company, try volunteering at a local retirement home or shelter. After all, it is the time for giving. Just be sure to look for something that you’re going to enjoy. For example, if you love cooking, help provide food to those in need. If you love storytelling, read holiday stories to people in a retirement community. Alternatively, you can share your joy for song by caroling in your community. In any case, there are tons of opportunities to volunteer. Reach out to local organizations and ask how you can help make the holidays better for others. You’ll bring so much joy to those who need it, and it will make you feel good in return! So, check out these Holiday Service Bucket Lists from the Dating Divas for ideas!
When You Just Can’t Help But Miss Them…
With technology, there are tons of apps to see your family when they are far away. Schedule a Google Hangout or Skype session where you both celebrate family traditions at the same time in a video call! While it’s not the same as being in person, it can help curb the loneliness you might feel by being away from them.
Also, try to create some new traditions that involve getting out of the house. Drive around to see the Christmas lights in different neighborhoods. So, check out some local holiday festivals and/or events! The important thing is to create new memories. I know it’s hard to be away from the people you love, but that doesn’t mean you have to have to be miserable. Incidentally, the holiday cheer is contagious, so get out there and catch it! 🙂
From My Family To Yours
Over the years, my family has lost a lot of its cultural traditions, but one tradition that stood the test of time is having Cardomom bread on Christmas morning.
This sweet bread originated in Sweden, where many of my family’s ancestors came from. This included my great-grandfather, who emigrated from there as a young boy. He passed away when I was a little girl, but I still remember him and my grandfather telling stories from the old days around the Christmas tree. While it’s not strictly a holiday bread, it has truly become one of our holiday traditions.
My mom usually serves it with coffee, butter, and occasionally a few jams and jellies. You’d be surprised at just how many of us eat it plain, though. So, it needs no topping but they are a form of enhancement.
Bread That Tastes Like Christmas (To Me, Anyways)
Whether you use these traditions or not, I hope you create some wonderful memories this holiday season. I’d love to hear what your holiday traditions are in the comments below!
Also, don’t forget to give me a shout out and follow me on social media! I’d love to hear from you!
Thanks for stopping by and as always–
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