The Best New Christmas Traditions!
Christmas is more than just opening a pile of well-wrapped presents under the tree, but the holiday season can sneak up on the most well-prepared families. Those few weeks really do pass by in one big, festive blur. Before you spend another year just going through the motions, why not start a few family traditions you can always revisit, time and again?
From personalised ornaments to matching PJs to a Christmas tree campout, these ideas aren't hard to pull off or even too time-consuming. In fact, each one adds just enough holiday magic that you — and your kids — will actually look forward to it.
Make Elf Footprints
"After the kids are in bed on Christmas Eve, we leave a trail of elf prints from our fireplace through the living room. To make them, cut two sponges in the shape of small shoeprints, then dip them into some flour or baby powder. (Pssst: the prints should always stop at the tray of cookies and milk left out for Santa and sometimes the elves are a bit naughty and play with the presents!)
Children love to figure out exactly what path Santa’s elves took, and the grown-ups have as much fun making them!
Surprise Your Friends With Treats
Why not do 12 days of secret surprises for a neighbour, friend, or the old tannie on the corner, bringing the appropriate number of goodies — one on the first day to twelve on the twelfth day. (Pssst: our Christmas cookie recipe is the bomb!) Try keeping your identity a secret, though with small children they probably wouldn't be able to keep it a secret anyway, so give them the chance to tell them on the last day!
Start an Ornament Collection
Every Christmas buy an ornament to celebrate something that happened that year, e.g. when you get married, buy a wedding ornament. If you graduated from varsity get one with a diploma. If you start a family, they get their own one too: then you can all look forward to unwrapping the ornaments every year and remembering why you bought them.
Camp Out Under the Tree
Every Christmas spend one night sleeping on the living room floor under the lighted tree, listening to holiday music. Talk about gratitude, love, Christmas, and the previous year. The kids look forward to it, and so do adults… if you add enough eggnog.
Help the Needy
This year teach your children that there is more to life than getting a Sony PlayStation: limiting gifts to one per child and one gift to share. Then agree to donate come time to a charity or soup kitchen. It's our job to teach our kids that there are rewards beyond money or things - the greatest gift is giving.
Tell Holiday Stories
Make a ritual with the nieces and nephews about telling a story before bed on Christmas Eve, whether it be Dickens or “The Night Before Christmas.” Customise rhymes to include their names and pets if you are feeling particularly creative and want extra cool points!
Give a Christmas Eve Gift
Picture it: every Christmas Eve, when the doorbell rings, the children run to answer it. They know Santa has left them their first present. Inside a brightly coloured sack is a pair of new pajamas for everyone. This idea serves two purposes. It's easier to get the kids ready for bed because they can't wait to wear their new pajamas! And you’ll all look great in the pictures the next morning.
Spread Out Your Celebrations
Christmas is particularly difficult when stepchildren are involved. Both sides want the kids on Christmas day. Tell the children that when parents are divorced, Santa adds a night to Christmas so he can finish his route! Now they can wake up to presents at your house on the 24th and their other parent’s on the 25th. They’ll love the idea of having two Christmases and they'll learn that you can invent your own family traditions.
Put Out Snacks for Santa
The original and best! We leave out cookies and milk for Santa, and a spoonful of sugar (or carrots) for the reindeer… but maybe in hot Jozi Santa would prefer a beer?! Make a big deal about this, counting the cookies, pointing out how full the glass of milk is, etc. While the kids sleep you sip the milk and eat the cookies, leaving a few with bite marks. The next day they will be amazed by the evidence that Santa was in your house! (Pssst: chocolate-covered raisins double-up as reindeer poop.)
Relive the Year's Memories
New Year’s Eve is full of roadblocks and drunk morons. Why not get everyone together and stay home? Have a buffet of hors d'oeuvres and sparkling cider / gluhwein / champers, and make a highlights reel (social media is useful) of the funniest and best moments of the past year. Get those tummy muscles jiggling, and discuss your resolutions for the next year. It’s a great way to see out the old, and the new in!
See the Lights
Find out where the town decorations are up (Cape Town’s Adderley Street lights are famous) or where other houses have lit up. It’s a great evening drive and guaranteed to put the small kids to sleep!
- Georgina Roberts