Oh, Baby Baby. What do you want from Santa, little one? Here are some sweet ideas for the parents-to-be or the youngsters in your life. BEDROOM PLAYROOM ON-THE-GO
Instead of stressing over the holidays, resolve to focus on the true meaning of Christmas by starting a new holiday tradition with your family this year. You’ll be creating cherished memories and strengthening your family bond without adding to the Christmas chaos.
TAKE A TRAIN RIDE TO SEE SANTA
We all know Santa’s helpers are stationed in every mall across America. But this year, why not make the annual trip to meet the big guy in the red suit extra magical? Inspired by the holiday classic The Polar Express, railways around the country are treating families to a special train ride to the “North Pole” to meet Santa Claus. Many encourage parents and children to wear their pajamas during the trip in true Polar Express fashion, and most include a special treat or gift from the head elf himself.
ADD TO THEIR ORNAMENT COLLECTION
What makes a Christmas tree special? Its ornaments. Each one should tell a story and reflect the unique personalities and life experiences of the members of your family. This year, start a tradition of getting your children, your spouse and yourself a new ornament that represents something special about each person’s year—a new hobby or interest, a character or movie they fell in love with, a particular event, etc. If you’re a member of the DIY community, handmade ornaments make some of the most special and memorable decorations for your tree. Place a picture of your child with Santa inside a clear ornament along with some fake snow a sprig of holly, immortalize your child’s Christmas list, or make a classic salt dough handprint ornament. Decorating the tree together each year will become a tradition in and of itself as your family reminisces over the unique ornaments you chose or created together.
EXCHANGE CHRISTMAS PJSs TO WEAR ON CHRISTMAS MORNING
Make Christmas mornings extra special with a new pair of cozy pajamas for each member of the family. If you celebrate St. Nicholas Day in early December, comfy Christmas jammies make a great stocking stuffer. Or, create a Christmas Eve box with their new pjs and a few stuffers like hot cocoa mix and some peppermints, and make this the only gift they open on Christmas Eve. For a picture perfect Christmas morning, purchase matching or personalized pajamas like these festive family sets for the entire family.
GIVE BACK WITH RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS
If the commercialization and materialism of Christmas prevents you from fully enjoying the holiday season, consider shifting your focus away from material gifts and back on the reason for the season. Start a tradition of spreading the joy and hope of Christmas by doing kind deeds for random strangers. You’ll be surprised how satisfying it is to lift someone else’s spirits with a simple and unexpected act of kindness like shoveling an elderly neighbor’s driveway or buying a cup of coffee or hot cocoa to a Salvation Army bell ringer. Whether you choose to do one thing for someone else each day in December leading up to Christmas or one or two kind deeds throughout the month, just knowing you made someone else’s day a little better will warm your heart and feed your soul. Lists and ideas are plentiful on the internet, but Random Acts of Kindness Org is a great resource to get you started. Read more about other charitable gift ideas here.
HOST A HOLIDAY COOKIE EXCHANGE
Part of what makes the holidays so special is good food and time spent with friends and family. This year, begin hosting an annual cookie exchange with your friends, neighbors and family. Have everyone who is attending whip up several batches of their most delicious Christmas cookies or bars and bring them to the party along with printouts of the recipe and a large, empty container or platter. Your guests can sample the assortment of yummy cookies while they enjoy each other’s company and take some of their favorites home in an empty container to bring along to their next holiday get-together. Here are recipe ideas for baking delicious 5-ingredients-or less-cookies.
SURPRISE THE KIDS WITH A MAGICAL EVENING
If you have young children, they’ll delight in a new tradition of staying up past bedtime to do something special with Mom and Dad. Choose a day before Christmas and surprise your kiddos with tickets on their pillows to stay up late and drive around to look at Christmas lights. Get in your PJ’s, pack a special treat like hot chocolate and Christmas Crunch popcorn, and take a memorable drive around town to the tune of your favorite Christmas classics on the radio.
COUNT DOWN TO CHRISTMAS WITH BOOKS
For a unique twist on the traditional advent calendar, wrap a new storybook for each day in December leading up to Christmas. Include a special message to your children inside each book. Each night before bed, let your kids unwrap their new story, and cuddle up on the couch with some hot cocoa to read it together. Your children will cherish their book collection, your words and the special time you spent together for years to come.
INTRODUCE A NEW GAME TO SPICE UP THE FAMILY CHRISTMAS PARTY
Sometimes, when the kids start to get older and the magic of Christmas no longer revolves around the promise of Santa Claus, the annual family Christmas party can get a little stale. Bring back the excitement with a fun game your family can look forward to each year. One idea is to have each member of the family purchase a $5 or $10 gift card to a popular store or restaurant and bring it to the party in a fancy bag or package. Then, have each person draw a number. Whoever draws the number one gets to pick the first gift. Once they open it and show everyone what they got, it’s Number Two’s turn. Number Two can choose to either steal Number One’s gift card or pick an unopened package from the pile. Continue down the line until every package has been opened and everyone has a gift card. Here’s the catch: each gift card can only be stolen twice. Once it has been stolen twice, it’s off the table.
KICK OFF THE HOLIDAYS WITH A CLASSIC MOVIE
Some of the best family traditions are often the simplest ones. Choose a favorite Christmas movie to watch with your family on the first day you consider to be the start of the holiday season each year. Older kids and adults might enjoy a yearly viewing of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation or Elf. For the younger crowd, Mickey’s Christmas Carol, The Polar Express, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas are all great choices. Or, choose a true classic like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Miracle on 34th Street, or It’s a Wonderful Life.
FREEZE TIME WITH A FAMILY PHOTO
What better way is there to capture your family as they are in that moment than with a picture? Whether you dress up and hire a professional photographer or take a fun and silly snapshot in your own home, you’ll treasure these yearly holiday photos that freeze time and immortalize your family during the most wonderful time of the year.
This article was written by Emily Leisl, contributor for The Daily Clutch.