Christmas is one of my favorite times of year & I think a lot of it has to do with my memories from past Christmas’ & as our family has grown, bringing new traditions in that we will all remember for years to come!
Christmas traditions are SO special, there is something about those things you can only bring out once a year, they remain special & I find we treasure them so much more.
I’ve brought together my favorite Christmas traditions & ideas, I hope you love them!
Santa Family Photos
Having Santa photo’s taken is so cute when you have kids & you take them to sit on Santa’s knee. They get a treat, tell him what they would love, what they are doing for Christmas & smile (or scream!) for a sweet photo.
We have been having a photo taken every year since our boys were tiny babies & it is so fun looking back each year. We have then in a wee photo album that sits on our coffee table every Christmas for us to look back on & add to.
As our boys are getting bigger I have started to realise they may not want to go & get a photo with Santa in the same way that they have done in previous years, but I’ve decided that we will still make sure to get a photo of the two of them, or even as a family, so add to the album each year. Such fun memories & a fun cheap & in a lot of cases free tradition you can do yourself!
Aren’t they just the cutest things! I have to admit I am always a little envious of all the creations online, there really are some amazing ones like the one in the stock photo below!
The one year we decided to give it a go our boys were quite young & I’m pretty sure I ended up doing most of the assembling & they did the decorating, which was totally fine & still so much fun! They turned out quite a mess but tasted delicious so I still call it a win!
We are going to try it again this year, our boys are 11 & 14 so it’ll be something really fun they can get involved with that is Christmas themed that they will actually want to do (when it involves food it helps a lot!) I can’t wait, I might make one myself!
There are several ways you can make a gingerbread house…
- You can actually buy little kits which we did years back, however I can’t seem to see any in stock anywhere – if I find some I will pop a link in here!
- You can purchase a cookie cutter set like this one.
- You can also print off a template that comes with the recipe like this Chelsea one!
Happy baking! And have fun – don’t worry about it being perfect XO
Activity advent calendar
Advent calendar’s are super fun & a great way especially as kids we can count down to the special day! I used to have a beautiful paper one when I was little that had stunning artwork, sparkles & felt so magical.
This got taken over by the chocolate calendar of course! My dad actually ended up making it even more fun some days by taking the chocolate out & putting a wee note in for me to do a treasure hunt to find my chocolate! What a cute idea, I had so much fun & I used to wish for this every day! This would be a fun idea if you wanted to mix it up a little!
My mum actually ended up making her own patchwork/sewn advent calendar which was so fun! She packed the pockets with treats & it looks beautiful! She still fills the pockets today for my boys when the visit – so special!
We now have out own wall hanging calendar which I fill the little pockets with different treats as we count down to Christmas day. I am going to mix it up a bit this year by trying my Dad’s treasure hunt trick. (Hopefully it won’t make us late for school !!!)
I wasn’t as creative as my Mum, we got ours from the warehouse I’ll link a similar one below!
A gratitude or memory jar is a great activity or practice all year round, but I do find it a really fun idea for a family to do coming up to the end of the year.
The way it works is everyone writes things they are grateful for from that year & moments they remember & loved. They all get popped into a big jar over the month of December ready to share with everyone!
The idea is to read them as a family & remember the moments together, having a smile, laugh & share. You could do this on Christmas Eve, Christmas day or this would even be a fun one for New Years eve!
Book advent calendar
This is such a fun idea & something I watched a few of my friends with younger kids do. I totally wish I had done this with my boys – so fun!
What you do, is you gather any Christmas books you already have, and you can add to your stash by picking up a new book each year or heading to your second hand stores, such great books & super cheap!
You then wrap up each book with festive paper & stack them randomly in a pile. The kids pick one book each night before bed to snuggle up & read with you.
How fun is that! And hey, if you only have 10 books then do it for the 10 days leading up to Christmas! So cool I really love this idea. My boys loved for me to read the Christmas books to them, opening one as a surprise would have been next level exciting!
Giving back is something that I LOVE to do, especially around this time of year. There are always multiple way you can give back around the festive season, some of them costing money, others a little of your time.
A few ways we like to give back are to look out for food & toy drives, where you purchase a little food or a toy for them to give to people in need. Another way is to do some baking or take small gifts to people that will be alone around Christmas, possibly neighbors that live alone or elderly with no family around. There is also opportunities to help out these charities putting together packs to take to people in need, whether that be food parcels or wrapping toys up to deliver to children in need.
Either way, it is so important we be intentional about sharing, giving & loving around this time of year. As the world goes a little crazy with the gifting for the sake of, let’s also look around for how we can make others lives a little easier & special when they are going through a hard time or don’t have many loved ones in their lives.
I can’t wait to make truffles again this year! For whatever reason last year I didn’t make them & we missed them!
There are so many recipes out there. Some of them super rich & involving alcohol, some of them child & family friendly & lets face it just YUM!
These make such great presents too, can be made ahead of time & the kids can help which is fun too. In the past we have filled little jars or tins with them for presents for the boys teachers, neighbors & added with bundles of them to presents for family.
Such an easy & reasonably cost effective way to get into the festive spirit!
Have an open house day
“Oh, let’s catch up before Christmas!” we all say, to everyone each year, then struggles to catch up with ANYONE! Am I right?
We have found such a fun way around this by having an ‘open house’ day! This is where you literally do that, you name a day, make a couple of platters, grab some drinks & lounge around your house while everyone drops in when they can, for however long they can!
SO easy! Plus it is super fun, you don’t have to know how many people are coming, everyone brings a small plate of finger food with them, so you only really have the food that you need. It’s literally like the most relaxed Christmas party ever & you don’t even need to leave the house to catch up with ALL those people you were meaning to before Christmas!
Picture this. Music is playing, sun is shining, kids are running round with ice blocks, drinks & platters are flowing & people are popping in throughout the day! Total bliss & so much fun – try it!
Decorating Christmas cookies
Another creating one in the kitchen! Is there anything that kids love to do more than pile icing & lollies onto cookies? I’m not sure there is!
But seriously? I love decorating cookies too! There are a heap of affordable Christmas cookie cutters out there now, or you might even be able to borrow a friends for the weekend. Below are a couple of example!
You will also be able to get them from Spotlight, Lincraft & so many more places.
You can also get little icing pens that make it super easy for kids to decorate if they want to try patterns like the image below. I have so much fun trying out different designs myself & there are so many ideas online you can give a go.
Again, these are such a great activity everyone can enjoy, especially as it’s involving food, PLUS again it makes the coolest gifts for family, friends, teachers, neighbors you name it.
Christmas crafts either make you excited or make you want to leave the house while they happen! But kids absolutely love them don’t they!
I think they key is choosing the right craft for their age group, so they don’t get too frustrated & it’s not too hard for them to do OR they get bored because it’s easy & they don’t want to do it.
There are SO man ideas online, Pinterest is a great place to start & I found typing in ‘Easy kids Christmas crafts’ bought up a lot of great ideas that weren’t too over the top.
Crafts doesn’t have to be expensive either, you can find lot’s of fun crafts involving house hold items you may already have lying around or even things like toilet paper rolls, popsicle sticks etc!
Put down a messy mat, put old clothes on & just have some fun. Again not putting too much pressure on the finished product is key here (learnt that the hard way!)
Christmas lights tour
Christmas lights are so beautiful! We always pop up a few around inside out house & have a couple put up outside in our BBQ area, but we don’t usually go overboard with our decorations in our garden.
We love driving around after dark looking at all the gorgeous lights in ours & other neighborhoods, people put so much effort in the look amazing!
There is bound to be a social media page or map of your town where the lit up houses are, if you are in Dunedin, New Zealand where we live here is the link below. There will be a map available in the group soon!
Making your own Christmas paper
At Christmas time you can go through so much festive paper can’t you! It can be a fun project to decorate your own paper, get creative & maybe even save some money doing it!
There a loads of ways you can do this. I recommend grabbing a roll of offcut paper from your local newspaper. They usually have ‘end of’ rolls you can purchase super cheap!
To decorate you could use pens, felts, paints with brushes, anything really! A fun idea we tried one year was to cut a large potato in half & carve a simple picture into it. You could do a simple Christmas free or star, dip it in paint & use it to stamp it all over your paper.
Once it’s dry this give you such a fun, creative & original giftwrap to use for your presents. This is a fun idea all year around, you can change what you decide to carve out of the potato stamp.
Christmas movie time!
I LOVE Christmas movies & start feeling like watching them in November. I know I should wait, but they are seriously feel good movies & they make me happy I can’t help it! There is such a great list of festive season movies on Netflix & Disney, plus they usually show the odd few on ‘normal’ TV.
It can be fun to have a movie night where you snuggle up with snacks & watch a couple of movies, or even to invite a few friends around for a movie night!
Snacks, cuddly blanket, Christmas movies – bliss!
Send out Christmas cards or emails
Life is pretty busy these days, there are a lot of our friends and even family that we don’t see a lot of, let alone catch up properly on what has been happening in their lives!
Extra children? Moved house? Finished studying? So much can happen in a year & time flies by.
It can be so fun & I think important to reach out to all your family & friends & wish them a merry festive season, that you are thinking of them & grateful to have them in your life. You can of course send lovely Christmas cards out, or even personalised ones! However I have noticed how expensive unfortunately it is getting to send out individual letters in the post these days, so it just isn’t an option for all of us!
A great alternative is to send out a lovely email, you can make this a generic one where you tell them what has been happening for you all this year & share photo’s which is fun to receive too! If you do send out one of these emails, you can put it together for free on a mailing list website such a Mailchimp, where you would enter everyone emails, be able to edit the email how you like with adding photos, colours, texts that you love.
You would also be able to send out to certain members separately if you wanted to add a personalised message especially for them.
Such a great opportunity to reach out & connect with those loved ones in your life, near or afar! And something they will treasure for sure.
Elf on the shelf
Well, it’s time for that little critter again!
My boys have grown up enough that I no longer have to scramble to find a a new spot for him, or lets face it, remember to move him! However, it can be a really fun way to add a little bit of Christmas Elf cheer into December.
There are loads of ideas that you can do with your Elf, scenes you can replicate when he gets into trouble every night, some of them are absolutely hilarious! Pinterest would be a great starting point, or you may be able to find a Facebook group dedicated to Elf on the shelf ideas!
You can actually buy sets with a book, letters from elf, activities etc, but as far as I have seen they can be super costly & not very necessary. You can purchase just the elf him/herself & set it up with your own tricks! I have linked an affordable Elf below if you would like to try it!
Write Santa a letter
Writing a letter to Santa when you are a child is super exciting & feels so magical!
There is something very special about the kids imaginations & the love of simply being a kid. Did you know there is a special website for writing a letter so Santa in New Zealand? It’s really interactive & easy to use I’ll link it below!
I am sure there will be similar in countries around the world. So fun!
Buy one special decoration per year
Decorating your house can be so fun, as much as we don’t want clutter everywhere, having some festive decor makes the house feel warm, cosy & Christmasy!
A good way to build up a supply of decorations without it costing the earth, is to purchase one new decoration a year. This way it keeps it special & keeps it at a minimum, it’s so easy to go over the top with spending at this time of year!
Another way to find new decorations is to head to the sales after Christmas (some of them even start before Christmas as they start wanting to get rid of stock!) This way you can either spend a lot less or get more for your money!
There is so much more I could share about decorating your home for the festive season, but that may have to be another post!
The most important thing is for your home to feel warm, inviting & make you happy!
Wear funny Christmas sweaters & fun jewellery
Dressing for the festive season can be so fun & can even come with a sense of humor!
There are so many fun PJ’s around you can get for your family, not to mention t-shirts, funny jumpers & jewellery. And to be honest? I love it all! It is fun to dress cheesy, silly, fun, cosy, all of it! And the kids love it too.
We have a great New Zealand company that has amazing Christmas jumpers Ill link them below!
I also absolutely love the jewellery & decorations that Iron Butterfly Jewellery does at Christmas time (and the rest of the year!) Check them out below, I couldn’t resist a few myself!
I absolutely love getting into the festive spirit & celebrating Christmas each year, I hope you enjoyed some of my favorite traditions that we love to do to create memories & experiences that we will take with us for years to come!
Have a wonderful festive season!