Our Christmas traditions have evolved a little bit throughout the years, but I think we have finally found a good resting place with it. It has become my favorite time of year with my people.
Our favorite part of the season is doing Advent. I love it so much because it helps keep the main focus on Jesus. Every night we highlight the Christmas story and talk about Jesus.
There are a couple different ways we do this. The first one is not in print right now... so sorry! But it is an advent curriculum focused on kids and the different elements of the Christmas story. There are a few good ones that ARE in print however if you are looking for a good one: Truth in the Tinsel or an advent calendar that follows the Jesus Storybook Bible are both excellent resources to accomplish this purpose.
We also follow the traditional Advent wreath, lighting a new candle every week to represent joy, peace, hope and love.
Our church also puts out an Advent devotion every year. If your church does not do this, but you would like one, please email me and I'd be happy to send you ours.
We typically decorate on Black Friday. This year we were out of town so we did it the Monday after we got home. We make tamales and chips and queso. We turn on A Charlie Brown Christmas. This year, we finally got a second tree so the kids can have their own tree to decorate. I put it in the playroom in the front window. I let them decorate it any way they wanted to,even if they put 7 ornaments on one branch. This freed up my tree to get to decorate all by myself without any "help". It was awesome and I didn't want to yell at anyone or wait till they were in bed to "fix" it. Win-Win all around and we will DEFINITELY repeat it next year.
Christmas Lights Contest:
We have always loved taking drives as a family. We have taken Sunday morning drives, late night drives when someone couldn't sleep, and our favorite is driving around and looking at neighborhood Christmas lights. A couple years ago, we decided to start a family contest. As a family, we pick our favorite and present them with a certificate and reward. Everyone gets a vote, and the house with the most votes wins. This year we presented the winner with a certificate and a couple 100 Grand Candy Bars. Next year, I'm going to try for something more like a trophy and gift basket.
We like to keep things pretty simple. Several years ago, I saw on Pinterest the idea of 4 main gifts:
Something you WANT: We try and hone in on ONE gift that each person wants.This is typically their fun gift. This year, each of our kids wanted legos. We even got Archer a set of Duplos. It can be really difficult to narrow down just to one thing. Not just for our kids to but for us to for them. It's hard because we really do want to give them things they want. It's. So. Fun. But we also are limited by finances and it's hard to find a stopping point. Also, we want to keep our kids focused on Advent (the focusing of Jesus and why he came)this time of year more than gifts and presents.
Something you NEED: This is one thing they are needing. This has been anything from car seats, to shoes to sheets. One thing they are needing most.
Something to WEAR: One item of clothing. This year was actually shoes. We got them each a pair of converses. (Psssst... I love buying second hand and I was able to find a pair for LK and Archer that were in excellent shape in their sizes).
Something to READ: One book. If you know me at all, you've probably picked up on the fact that we love reading and promoting a book-loving home. This is one way we do that: by giving books as gifts. (Read more about How We Cultivate a Book Loving Home here).
This can be a sensitive topic for some families, but we have found a pretty good plan that seems to work pretty well for us. Kyle and I both grew up in homes that "did Santa". For our family, we keep Santa as a Christmas Character. He's not the main event, but he is there just like Frosty and Rudolf and even Mickey and Cinderalla, etc... He is also just one more gift-giver. In our home there is typically one shared gift from Santa and stockings. This year, our kids got a wii (the original version that I also got second hand!).
We have always said that whenever our kids were old enough to start figuring it out and asking questions, we wouldn't fabricate a big story, but would tell them the truth. We also like to share the history of were Santa Claus comes from, St. Nicholas. Last year when she was 7, Laura Kate asked me why "Santa had brought Fischer's present so early the last year". She said she had seen his big wheel in the garage but didn't say anything for a whole year. I took a deep breath and asked her to wait a minute and I went and got Kyle and told him that the time had come, we needed to talk to her. So we did. We pulled her aside and we talked to her about the tradition of St. Nicholas and that it was a tradition that Mommy and Daddy had carried on for our family. We treated it more like a "surprise" than a "secret". We encouraged her not to talk about it with friends at school nor with her brothers or cousins. We wanted her to get to keep the surprise for them too. She has done a pretty good job with that and it hasn't been difficult at all.
Technically, stocking are from Santa too. What we put inside we also keep pretty simple: Socks, undies, a new toothbrush, and candy I saved from Halloween.
So that's our Christmas traditions. We love it! Let me know if you have any questions or if you have more ideas for Christmas traditions!