I don’t know if you have heard…Christmas is coming! Ha. Its not likely you haven’t noticed. Reminders are everywhere. Stores are lined with all the things and all the parents are listening to our kids tell us all the presents on their Christmas list.
Friends, I am so here for it! I am a holiday fanatic. I love them all. Any reason to celebrate and I AM IN. I remember years ago when our oldest, Ruth, was a baby and Josh and I had so much fun brainstorming all the ideas for Christmas traditions our family would start.
As more and more kiddos have joined our family we have tried to stream line our Christmas traditions – we skip the ones that don’t have sentimental or significant meaning to us and we go big on the ones that do! I know this looks different for everyone, so I thought I would share our family’s favorite Christmas traditions:
Advent is the season of four weeks leading up to Christmas that Christians in some denominations celebrate the coming of King Jesus. I love celebrating Advent with my kids because it builds anticipation and gives us extra time to linger in the miracle of our savior putting on flesh and coming to save us. I created these advent ornaments with different names of Jesus and verses from the Bible for our kids. You can download them for free and print them to use too if you want! Just click here. We read the verse, pray, and color the picture before breakfast each morning in December. Watching our kids prepare room in their own hearts, seeing them sit in the wonder of our King coming to dwell among us is the most special part about the whole season to me.
We do 4 Christmas presents for each of our kids. Something you need, something to read, something you want, and something to wear. Our kids know what to expect and it helps my husband and I stay grounded and not go overboard. We try to reach into this and teach our kids a lesson each year so we always sit down as a family an talk about how we don’t have any actual NEEDS the way that most of the people around the world do. We have food, shelter, and clothing and so many people don’t. So for the last 3 years our kids when given the option have opted out of their “need” present and we have picked a cause as a family to donate money to instead. One place our kids love to give to is: https://www.chinaorphans.org
We have always told our kids that Santa is SO fun to pretend. Just like Mickey Mouse and Barbie. We love Santa – he’s so fun! We’ve just chosen to tell them he isn’t real. But we do tell them about St. Nicholas. We watch the veggie tales movie about him and read stories about him. Tradition tells of St. Nicholas leaving gold coins in stockings of people in need. So Santa doesn’t leave any presents under our tree but our kids get gold chocolate coins in their stocking every year. I am confident in our choices here but it has made for an awkward moment or two when well meaning older people stopped toddler Lydia in the store and said, “what do you want Santa to bring you for Christmas little girl?” To which she would joyfully yell, “Santa is dead!” UGH we had follow up convos about keeping that to ourselves… But they still love to use their imagination so here they are last year sleeping by the tree waiting for Santa to come on Christmas Eve.
It’s pretty simple. Just our family favorite Christmas movie. So we always watch it the day or two before Christmas. Its. Just. So. Good. (We also LOVE the cartoon Prep and Landing and always have a movie night with our besties to watch it over Christmas break)
Lawrence Old Fashioned Christmas Parade
We live in Lawrence and every year there is an old fashioned Christmas Parade with beautiful horses on Mass St. Its this coming Saturday and we will be there! It is the most hallmark-movie-like thing you will ever see. We love it and we have fun memories of going as a family every year. Ps. the horse poop stinks as bad as you think it would.
Hot Chocolate Christmas Light Rides
Probably 3 times during December my husband and I will surprise the kids once they are in their jammies and ready for bed with a surprise thermos of hot chocolate and loading in the van for a cruise around our town looking for all the decorated houses. The kids get SO excited. We belt out Christmas carols and ohhh and aww over all the lights.
Graham Cracker Gingerbread Houses
Maybe one day when our kids are older, more sophisticated, and less…well…clumsy we will graduate to making our own cookies but until then, we use Graham crackers, store bought icing, and candy and go to town making our own gingerbread houses. The kids love it and we do too! Here’s a link to instructions if you need them!
A Feast For the King
Heaven is going to be the best celebration ever. And we feel like any time we get the smallest taste of Heaven here on earth, it surely delights God. So we want to celebrate Jesus’ birthday up big time. On Christmas Eve we prepare a whole spread of appetizers – tons of them – and we get all dressed up set up a fancy table to eat. We play Christmas music and light candles and feast with joy knowing that our Redeemer has come. After church we break out the karaoke machine and sparkling cider and keep the party going. (Plus we have found that leftovers on Christmas are our jam!)
Mom & Dad Devos
Advent is such a precious time tuck away with God – Bible in hand – to remember and process that I was once lost and alone and now I am found and kept safe in all of His promises. Here a few resources Josh and I love for our daily advent time: Come Thou Long Expected Jesus Devotional, Greatest Gift Book, & Come Let Us Adore Him.
Ok so this year, we are trying something new. We exchanged names as a family to fill each others stockings. We wanted our kids to get in on the big picture of ‘its better to give than to receive’. Each kid will get a private night out of shopping with mom or dad and 15 dollars to fill a stocking with. Lydia has Ruth, Ruth has Mom, Mom has Micah, Micah has Dad, Dad has Lydia – and Abi is totally getting a stocking full of baby food because she will be pumped. I will let you know how it goes – might be a new family favorite or might go downhill fast!
So, if you are on the hunt for ways to celebrate our coming King or you are going nuts trying to figure out what your yes’ will be this year – maybe some of our favorites will be a good fit for you. But I am sure others won’t! Thats ok! And please share the wealth… leave a comment and let me know what your favorite traditions are too!