A holiday tradition can come from many places; from deep religious belief, from family history, or even from the media. Dating back to Victorian times, the way we celebrate Christmas has been in constant flux. The introduction of Santa, the Christmas tree, and the big turkey (or duck) dinner were added to religious practices like charity and carolling. Now in the age of Facebook and Pinterest, new ideas as to how to make the season fun and special seem to come up every day!
From decorating, to feasting, to sharing the magic with our children (you may have already seen our write up on Elf on a Shelf), the way you celebrate is as unique as the members of your family. Today we focus more on the way we actually give in the 21st century, with a few ideas on feeling spoiled without over-commercializing the biggest money-making holidays of them all.
More and more parents are extending the gift giving into the night before Christmas - a day packed with traditions all its own. After ensuring the tree is trimmed, the stockings are hung, and the cookies are out, some families open a special gift or two reserved for this evening.
- A board game - for a family with kids aged pre-school and above, a nice way to focus on family time, that doesn't involve television, is to play a group game. From the classics like Candy Land and Trouble, to a more recent fave like Apples to Apples, there are dozens of choices for every age group.
- Pajamas - having brand new sleepwear is a super cute idea. Having matching outfits always makes for great holiday snaps. Take some pictures the night before, though. You can't count on everyone in your family still wearing the same jammies for present opening.
- A book/ books - Seasonal reading for before bed is a nice way to unwind after a day of too much excitement leading up to the big day. It doesn't have to be T'was the Night Before Christmas (although that's a good one), it could be a more traditional piece, or even just a wintery tale to strike the right mood.
Whether you open them up right out of the gate, or start with a hearty and decadent breakfast, it's hard not to focus on the present part of the day when you're staring at a mountain under the tree! But does it need to be a mountain? We are huge fans of the saying: "something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read."
- A want - that's easy enough to figure out this time of year! No doubt you had a fairly large list to choose from, if not a few friendly hints! Consider making this gift the biggie under the tree, while Santa brings something smaller. It's terrible when some kids get a stuffed dog and others get an iPad from the same man in red.
- A need - this could also be a toy that serves a purpose beyond just fun. It could be a comfort item, crafting supplies, sport or dance lessons... you name it.
- To wear - we're not talking underpants here, but maybe a fashionable sweater your daughter has been coveting, or that great sports jersey!
- To read - again, focus on the fun. You don't have to buy Dickens if your son likes Captain Underpants. Whether it's outer space or cooking that interests your child, encourage reading in every way you can.
The present opening process can be a blur, and leave everyone feeling let down that it's over. Try to extend the moment as long as you can, taking the time to open each gift and appreciate it. That might mean taking turns, pictures, breaks for games or snacks... whatever it takes to extend the moment. It's also important to have something ready to look forward to immediately after the gifts to keep spirits high. A karaoke carol sing-a-long? How the Grinch Stole Christmas? A family craft for Grandma? It's the perfect moment to share in the tradition that started it all - the love of family.