There is no time of year more steeped in tradition than the winter holidays. Parents who celebrate Christmas often look back on Yuletides past with nostalgia, hoping they can create similar memories for their kids.
We love passing on traditions! Who doesn’t? However, we also think it’s super fun for young families to create new customs to share with their children. If you’re itching to try something unique this year, we’ve got a few mom-tested ideas that you and your kids will love.
1. Magical Toys
Nicole, a mom in Maryland, tells us that this tradition “came to life” on its own in her house. She got up one morning in early December to discover that her daughters’ princess dolls had awoken during the night and eaten an entire bag of chocolate. They left a huge mess in the kitchen too! Only the princesses who arrived via Santa’s sleigh in years past had contributed to the mischief, though.
It turned out that the elves had infused her kids’ dolls with a little extra magic that was reactivated each year at Christmas time. The princesses kept coming to life each night for weeks, getting into more trouble each time. They played games, made paper snowflakes, and decorated the tree with underwear. “The kids were pretty entertained by all the mischief,” says Nicole. “I think it might be their favorite part of Christmas.”
2. Small Gifts, Big Smiles
Another Certifikid reader tells us that she loves to spread Christmas cheer to service workers during their busiest season. Soon after Thanksgiving, Megan buys a few boxes of candy canes, a package of pipe cleaners, and a bag of googly eyes. Then she and her kids get to work making candy cane reindeer.
The family brings the reindeer crafts with them each time they go shopping and hands them out to service workers as a special “thank you” gift. “People are always touched when we give them our reindeer,” says Megan. “I used to work retail myself, so I know how tough the holiday season can be. And I love that my kids are learning to be kind and grateful to people who help them.”
3. What Have I Done for Him Today?
For Brittany, a mom in Virginia, Jesus is the reason for the season. She puts up a big poster at the start of Advent titled “What Have I Done for Him Today?” It’s filled with ideas for showing kindness and love to Jesus and each other. Some examples include hugging a sibling or saying a prayer.
Every day, each family member chooses at least one intangible gift they can give to Him. “I started this tradition because our faith is important to us,” says Brittany. “I love seeing the kids get excited about showing kindness and generosity.”
4. Super Secret Santa
Erin in Texas grew up in a big family, so it wasn’t feasible to buy gifts for every relative. Their solution? Secret Santa, of course! However, just like everything else in Texas, this family wanted to make it bigger. So Erin, her siblings, and 40 first cousins all drew names. Then all through December, they’d drop off small gifts for each other at their grandmother’s house.
“The gifts could be anything small. Usually, it was candy, like chocolate Santas,” says Erin. “It was so much fun.” Now that she’s an adult, Erin and her cousins often drop Secret Santa gifts on each other’s doorsteps, then ring the doorbell and run.
5. A Twist on Advent Calendars
Each night of Advent, Nikki, Matt, and their kids take turns reading the day’s entry on the Advent calendar. But to add a little variety to the tradition, they tie a ribbon to the calendar piece and hang it on the tree afterward.
“As the tree gets more covered with Advent pieces, we know we’re getting closer to Christmas,” Nikki says. “It’s a fun way to count down the days!”
6. La Befana
Tara in Pennsylvania borrowed this tradition from her Italian ancestors. According to Italian folklore, centuries ago there lived an old witch, La Befana, who spent all her days sweeping and baking. The three Magi stopped in her village and asked for directions to find the infant, Jesus. La Befana did not know the directions, but she offered them a place to sleep for the night.
The next morning, the Magi invited the witch to join them, but she declined. Later, she had a change of heart. She packed up all the sweets she’d been baking to bring as a gift for the baby, and she went after them. Unfortunately, la Befana never found the Magi or the child. Instead, she stopped at every house and left treats for the children there, because you never know which one might be the Christ child.
Now, children in Italy (and Tara’s family!) hang their stockings on the eve of the Epiphany (the night of January 5). La Befana comes through their homes and leaves treats for the good girls and boys. “We like to celebrate all 12 days of Christmas,” says Tara. “This is a fun way to keep the kids excited about Christmas until the end.”
We love passing on Christmas traditions, and we know you do too! Do you have a unique holiday custom in your family? Share your ideas in the comments!
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