I think a lot of the reason that Christmas tends to turn into a consumer-driven mess for so many of us is that so many of our Christmas traditions are centered around gifts, gifts, gifts. And so this year, I’ve made it my goal to really focus on some of our family’s fun (and not gift-related) traditions.
For example, several years ago, my church community group started an Advent tradition. Every Sunday night between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we gather our families together in one of our houses to celebrate Advent. The host family usually has a hot pot of soup in the Crockpot and we share a simple meal and then a couple of guys bust out their guitars and we all sing Christmas carols together. We finish the evening by reading a part of the Christmas story together. It’s a tradition that even my young kids enjoy and something that brings our whole family (and group of friends) closer to the true meaning of the season.
There are so many fun ways to get into the holiday spirit without spending a fortune or getting wrapped up in materialistic pursuits. And by focusing on these fun family traditions, kids start to see that Christmas is a whole lot more than Santa and presents. Here are a few ideas:
– Volunteer to serve meals at a homeless shelter. Dress in your best Christmas sweaters and show your kids the joy of serving.
– Stroll around your neighborhood—or if it’s too cold, drive—and look at the lights.
– Decorate from the great outdoors. Even if you live in the city like I do, use boughs off of your Christmas tree or leaves from outside to help you decorate. Last year, we even found a ball of mistletoe growing on a tree in our yard and brought it inside.
– Every night (or some nights) after dinner, light a fire, put on pajamas and snuggle on the couch together and read a Christmas book or a part of the Christmas story from the bible. Make hot cocoa or eggnog if you don’t mind your kids going to bed hopped up on sugar. Or serve herbal tea if you do mind.
– Skip store bought Christmas cards and work together to make them as a family. Sure, the coloring may not be perfect (and you may end up with glitter all over the floor) but they’ll be so much more personal than anything you could buy.
– Bake loaves of cranberry bread or cinnamon muffins and deliver them to your neighbors.