Since having my own kids, I am always searching for those special moments to make memories for my children. Christmas seems to be the time where we have strong memories from our own childhood. Most memories come from the regularity of events or the build up to events. One way to make Christmas a special and stress free occasion for your family is to create some traditions you can celebrate year after year.
I have thought about 10 traditions my family loves that you might like to try. There are a million other ideas, however keep them simple and low cost and you and your family will enjoy them year after year.
1 Christmas Tree
We love a beautifully decorated Christmas tree (or at least I do!). My family enjoys a real Christmas tree that is delivered a few weeks prior to Christmas on the back of Grandpa's ute! Beautiful has a slightly different definition now with kids. Pre kids all the ornaments matched, were carefully spaced and colour coordinated. Now the tree has many hand made objects from school art and is decorated in a slightly more hap hazard fashion. However we love it all the more. The kids enjoy getting involved and being part of the fun. It just requires a few suck it up moments from myself!
2 Christmas Pajamas
There is something very satisfying about bathing the children and putting them to bed in pristine new Pajamas. The children love the idea of being 'dressed up' in bed for Santa! All seems well in the house when the children are bathed and happily asleep!
3 Reindeer food
We go to some lengths to get the reindeer food mix right! This includes a carefully selected mix of muesli and glitter, with some carrot sticks thrown in. The food is then strategically placed on the nature strip in small flattish bowls that my daughter has selected for their ease of access for the reindeer. All I can say is that Mum and Dad must remember to take away enough food to make it look like the reindeer enjoyed the snack overnight. The bowls should be slightly tipped over and some food sprinkled on the grass. If you are super keen, reindeer hoof prints can be made from flour!
4 Santa snacks (and beer)
After the reindeer food has been sorted, then we attend to the Santa snacks. This usually includes various cookies and other treats and a glass of milk. My kids are adamant that Santa shouldn't be left out a beer as he is driving - good to see the drink and drive message is sinking in! As with the reindeer snacks, don't forget to consume the snacks and leave behind a few crumbs for effect.
5 Santa sack or pillow case
Part of the bedtime ritual on Christmas Eve is to leave the santa sacks out. I would strongly recommend not to leave the sack in the kid's bedroom as it is far more likely you will be sprung filling the sacks. I have found that it is far less stressful to leave the Santa sacks in the lounge room. I can wrap and fill them at my leisure after the kids are in bed.
6 Christmas breakfast
There is nothing more wonderful than waking up on Christmas morning (at the crack of dawn if you have little kids), opening presents and then enjoying a leisurely breakfast in PJs before the crazy round of family events gets underway. Keep the breakfast light and simple. Beautiful fruits (we love mangoes and cherries) and toasted panetone with lashings of butter works for my family.
7 Pack the Car for the Beach and a Boxing Day Cricket Match
Visiting the beach is a key part of our Christmas tradition. We always try to make it to the beach either on Christmas Day or as soon as possible thereafter. Packing the car is part of the fun (or at least that's what I am trying to tell myself). The kids try to pack as many of their Christmas presents as possible. Sometimes a small trailer would be helpful!
We have started meeting our friends at our local beach on Boxing Day and challenging them to a friendly cricket match. The match is super fun and is becoming more and more competitive every year!
8 Santa letter
At the start of December it is always fun to help the kids prepare a Christmas letter. It can be hysterical to see what the kids come up with. My son this year split his list into 2 categories, "must haves" and "I don't really cares". Prior to the list preparation there is always a conversation as to their general behaviour during the year. This conversation can be quite enlightening as to your child's personality and how they rationalise different events!
9 Carols by Candlelight
Sitting up to watch Carols by Candlelight was a "must do" when I was growing up. If your kids are old enough to sit up, then watching at least part of the carols can be lovely.
10 Christmas outfit
As I grew up, my mum took me shopping to buy something special to wear on Christmas Day. Going on a shopping trip was a rare occasion in my family and therefore this became a special memory that usually included a trip to the city. I now enjoy this tradition with my children. My son couldn't give two hoots, and selects something in about 2 minutes. On the other hand, my daughter enjoys thinking through what she would like to wear, her budget and the different stores she would like to visit.
I already see the years rolling by with my own kids and I am keen to create some special traditions we can share year after year. One of my girlfriends, who is well over 30 and now has her own kids, still returns home to her parents house and they all participate in the family traditions. The grown up children and the grandchildren all have santa sacks. The grandma has created a special home that everyone wants to return to and enjoy with the growing family. Something to aspire to!