Christmas is such a fun time to display your family's favorite traditions -- but I know from experience that trying to do it "all" can make for a less than joyful season! That is not what I want for you. I want your Christmas to be memorable. If you are stressed and demanding perfection it can be memorable as well, but maybe not for the reason you want it to be. Relax and enjoy your people this year.
I asked my kids what their favorite Christmas traditions were. This is what they gave me.
1. New pajamas on Christmas Eve.
I think this is a pretty common one. I know lots of families do this, but it was on my kids' list as one of their favorites. We started this as soon as we began having children and it's always been a nice way to settle a little excitement among children eager to open presents. It is also an excellent photo op!
2. Dried bean in the cupcake on Christmas Eve to decide who opens the gift.
This tradition was born from necessity. With six children opening presents on Christmas morning I needed a fun way to control the chaos just a little. For Christmas Eve we always end our meal with "Happy Birthday Jesus cupcakes". In one cupcake I have secretly and cleverly concealed a large dried bean. The children carefully eat their cupcake and whoever gets the bean is the first person to open a present the next morning. They also get to choose which order the rest of the presents get opened in, youngest to oldest or oldest to youngest. It's a lot of fun and something they look forward to each year.
3. Jammie Drill & looking at Christmas lights
This quickly became one of our family's absolute favorite traditions! It is no longer limited to just Christmas time. We started this when our kids were pretty young. We would do the whole nighttime routine; brushing teeth, getting into their pajamas, goodnight kisses and bedtime prayers. After everyone had been tucked into bed for a few minutes, my husband and I grabbed some pan lids and wooden spoons and began pounding them yelling, "Jammie drill!! Everyone up for a jammie drill! Quick, get into the van!" I'd already placed shoes and blankets in the van, and once everyone was loaded up, we were off to the icecream shop where they could get ice cream or hot chocolate. Then we would put some Christmas music on and drive around looking at lights. The kids are older now and bedtimes are later and more staggered. We can still surprise the two littlest boys but everyone else pretty much knows what's up. But, we still wait till at least everyone is in their pajamas! I think it's the spontaneity that is so much fun with the jammie drills.
4. The four gift challenge
This technically can't be counted as a tradition because it's the first year we've done this, but if I could go back in time, I would have done this one a long time ago! With six kids to buy presents for, gift giving can get a little bit out of hand. My husband is a gift giver and he loves to bless the kids at Christmas. Sometimes though, we were just buying for the sake of buying, to keep things even, not really putting much thought into the gifts. This year we decided to do something we'd heard about a long time ago, the four gift challenge. We sat the kids down at Thanksgiving and explained it to them and they were all on board. This year the kids will get 4 gifts from us (5 including the Christmas Eve jammies): something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read. It has greatly streamlined and simplified our gift giving this year. I love it! I feel like we've done a much better job of being good stewards with our resources as well as buying things that each child truly appreciates instead of getting stuck in the trap of feeling like we have to buy one more thing to keep things even. Between the kids, they draw names from a hat on our annual Thanksgiving camping trip to buy a gift for one of their siblings.
As Christmas is rapidly approaching, I pray that your Christmas is memorable and peaceful. Surrender your expectations of perfection. Enjoy your real-life, messy, loud, blessed Christmas. When Mary gave birth to her baby in a smelly, noisy barn surrounded by shepherds and animals she laid down her expectations of a perfect birth and embraced absolute perfection to her breast. Our perfect Savior. Our perfect Hope.
Hey there! I'm Pam and I'm sure glad you're here.