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No matter which holiday you celebrate this time of year, it's important to have traditions. I admit that we don't have a lot of them in my family, but the ones we do have I hold near and dear. They give me that warm fuzzy feeling of nostalgia.
Many of those traditions have now been carried over from my childhood and shared with my children. While I love sharing traditions from my childhood, I have been looking for some fun new ideas to incorporate into our own holiday to make our own.
Maybe you are looking for something new to start with your family, too. These are my favorite ideas and some we will definitely be starting this year. I can't wait to begin starting new memories and traditions that maybe my sons will also pass down to their future families.
Make a Christmas Eve box
Remember wanting to open just one gift on Christmas Eve? I do but was never allowed to. Humbug! I love the idea of making a Christmas Eve box for the kids with pajamas, Christmas stories, a DVD, snacks, or an ornament. You are only limited by your imagination. I love these ideas from Oh My Creative and Money Saving Sisters.
Christmas movie night
Get excited for Christmas morning by having a marathon of your favorite Christmas movies. Serve cookies and hot cocoa and the night is complete!
Give to the less fortunate
Christmas is a hard time of year for many families. If you are one of the more fortunate families who has plenty to eat and gifts under the tree, why not give a gift to a needy child or family? There are many ways to do this such as dropping a gift in a donation box, choosing a child from an angel tree, or being matched up with a child through many different organizations. Knowing that I brought a smile to the face of someone in need is the meaning of the season for me.
Bake Christmas cookies
This is such a simple, yet meaningful tradition in many families. As a child, I never made Christmas cookies with my mother because while she is a great cook, she isn't a baker. I did, however, make cookies with my step-grandmother and I looked forward to it every year. Even if you don't know how to bake, pre-made cookie dough is fine, too. After all, aside from eating them, decorating them is the best part.
Take the kids out every year to choose their own ornament for the year. This year, my kids picked their ornaments while we were at Disney World this summer and now they can remember that trip every Christmas. I did this as a child and I now have my ornaments on my own tree and my kids will have their own collection started when they move out on their own.
Family game night
I love to play games. Card games, board games, any kind of game. When with a larger than normal group of people, games are even more fun! Break out a deck of cards or some board games and have some laughs and good times.
Go on a Christmas light tour
If you have a festively lit neighborhood, take a walk and look at the lights. If your neighborhood is on the more tame side, take a ride to look at lights in other neighborhoods. Some towns even have a list of the best lit houses.
Make reindeer food
Go above and beyond leaving a carrot or an apple (like we do) and make some "real" reindeer food with the kids. I love this idea from Smart School House and think we will be trying it this year!
Donate old toys
To make room for new toys, put together a box or bag of outgrown or no longer loved toys to donate. You could donate to a thrift store, shelter, church group, or other charitable foundation in your area. Make a child happy while decreasing clutter. It's a win-win!
If you do Santa in your house, track him with the NORAD Santa Tracker. My kids both love seeing where Santa is and as an added bonus, they often get to learn about new places in the world. This is one of my family's favorite traditions.
Read The Night Before Christmas
As a kid, my grandfather used to read The Night Before Christmas and I loved it. It always got me so excited to go to bed and see what goodies would be under the tree when I woke up.
What are your favorite family Christmas Eve traditions? I would love to hear about them in comments and hopefully get some inspiration for my family.