The countdown to the holiday season has begun, and our children make this time of year magical. Kids are innocent and find even the smallest details interesting and surprising. Looking back on my childhood memories, I remember the family dinners and memories we made together rather than the gifts. Although a few gifts stand out, my vivid remembrance of the memories my family made together made me think, once I became a mother, about how to build memories for my family.
Over the years, my husband and I started a few traditions that our children look forward to each year. Instead of focusing on receiving gifts, our kids look forward to a variety of activities we do each year.
Our holiday traditions start with a huge Thanksgiving breakfast. We don’t skimp on dinner either. However, every Thanksgiving, I make a batch of homemade cinnamon rolls, eggs, sausage and breakfast potatoes. Instead of eating at the table, we sit in the living room with our hearty breakfast and watch the Macy’s Day Parade while admiring the floats.
2. Thankful Tree
I started this tradition when my daughter was three years old. The days before Thanksgiving, I create a huge tree on our wall out of brown construction paper and tape. We make leaves out of construction paper and tape them on the branches of the tree. Throughout the week, our family writes down the things we are thankful for and love. It is a visible reminder of the purpose for the season.
3. Polar Express Nights
One of our family’s favorite Christmas movies is The Polar Express. My kids could watch it daily if we allowed them! Every December, we pick one night to watch the movie together as a family. I make a batch of homemade hot chocolate and popcorn before we settle down. Our children love this tradition and would be happy to do it weekly!
4. Polar Express Train Ride
Our next tradition also revolves around Polar Express! A few years ago, we found a local train station that takes our children on a train ride that replicates the Polar Express. They sing songs, pass out hot chocolate and Santa joins in at one point. It is magical for children and adults. We have used a portable high chair for our littlest so they can watch the action.
5. Viewing Christmas Lights
While you may be able to find designated areas to see Christmas lights, our kids prefer just to drive through neighborhoods and check out what the locals have done to their homes. This trip also involves festive music and plenty of singing. We love to see the creativity displayed around town!
6. Advent Calendar Countdown
If there is one tradition we love, it is the Advent calendar I made long ago. Before December, my husband and I write down 25 activities we hope to accomplish that season. The options vary, but they make by purchasing toys for a child, donating to our local, bake cookies and deliver to our neighbors, make gingerbread homes and craft homemade bird feeders. The activities are fun and bring our family together. Each morning, the kids run to the calendar to pull out the day’s event. It has brought the best memories!
7. Homemade Ornaments
The best ornaments are handmade. Each year, we make popcorn strands, but they only last one year. Instead, we have each child make one or more ornaments throughout the month of December. They also enjoy making handmade cards for their family members. Children love arts and crafts; the holiday is the best time of the year for meaningful crafts!
I hope you found some inspiration in our favorite ways to make memories during the holidays. Remember, it isn’t just one day; there are an entire month and a half that is the holiday season. Take this time to focus on making memories with your kids that will last a lifetime. From chopping down the Christmas tree to watching classic movies, your children love and cherish this time together.
The years will go by, and the memories of the gifts will fade, but the memories of the activities done together will last a lifetime.