Whether you love them or hate them, holiday traditions abound! It can be EXHAUSTING being the Holiday Cheer Meister so here’s a few tips from a mom who sometimes wants to be the Grinch and toss everything off the highest mountain and run to my cave!
-You do not have to do ALL the things! I feel like Pinterest and IG have us in this constant state of comparison and we are terrified that our kids won’t have an amazing childhood if they don’t get to experience every single option that’s out there, but guess what? Our kids don’t have IG or Pinterest and they aren’t comparing so we should stop that too! Talk to your kids, find out what their favorite traditions are-you might be surprised how many of your own favorites are completely different from theirs. Give yourself permission to let go of the ones that aren’t topping the list-yours or theirs-and focus on the favorites!
-Traditions don’t have to be expensive. Our cute little town has an incredible holiday light display and we love walking around and seeing all the lights together. We start a batch of crock pot hot cocoa before we go and when we get back it’s ready to drink. Check your area for parades, festival of trees, church choir productions-all things that are free or low cost. Dance studios often offer performances of the Nutcracker ballet for significantly less than a performing arts center. See what kind of events your local library, zoo, or children’s museum are hosting, check your local newspaper for the best Christmas light houses in your area to go check out. We like the houses that sync their lights to the radio stations with music. Pile kids and blankets in the car, bring along hot cocoa and popcorn, and go for a Christmas light drive! We like this option when we have Great Grandma with us cause she can stay warm and not have to walk around as much.
-When starting traditions, think of ways that your family can help participate in making the tradition happen so that it’s not all on you. In our house, we have an elf on the shelf. I HATE that thing, but my little kids just love him and his silly antics. A few years ago we put the teenagers in charge of him and now they have a blast planning elf mischief. Another fun bonus-as the kids get older and we have to explain the “truth” about Santa, they get recruited into creating the magic for the younger kids and they LOVE being on the “grownup” side and what’s more Christmassy than creating magic for your siblings?
Some of our favorite traditions include-
- Advent calendars-we get the chocolate ones for each kid and a couple of the Lego ones to share. This year, it’s one Harry Potter Lego calendar and one Lego friends calendar. Buy both the chocolate and the Lego versions early cause they do sell out quickly!
- Decorating sugar cookies for Santa and making Reindeer food for the reindeer-they work hard too! Our reindeer food is just rolled oats with glitter mixed in and it shimmers in the driveway and the kids LOVE it!
- My mom does an epic gingerbread decorating party for all the grandkids every year. She makes the houses all by hand and it’s incredible! I’ve also seen really awesome kits at the grocery store and since your kids have never seen my moms epic ones they wouldn’t know the difference 😉
- Secret Santa-We like to choose a family in need each year and doorbell ditch a delivery specific to their needs. We also create little care packages in gallon size ziploc bags for the homeless people we see while we are out and about. Things from the dollar store make great options-socks, gloves, baby wipes, travel size hygiene items, non perishable snacks, chapstick, hand warmers, hand sanitizer, etc.
- Christmas Eve we always order dinner-the kids take a vote and we’ve done everything from pizza to McDonald’s-it’s totally up to them! Daddy works for UPS and Mom is cooking for Christmas Day so it started out of necessity and it turns out the kids look forward to it every year!
- Cinnamon rolls and an egg casserole for Christmas breakfast is our Christmas morning breakfast every year. I prep both the night before so I can toss them in the oven in the morning and enjoy my people instead of slaving away in the kitchen. These are the two recipes we swear by! https://www.melskitchencafe.com/make-ahead-overnight-tater-tot-breakfast-casserole/
- We wrap all of our Christmas presents throughout the month of December and put them on top the kitchen cabinets! It keeps them away from sneaky little fingers AND the kids love seeing them and guessing who is getting the biggest ones. We don’t put names on the presents-we use code names and they don’t know their code name til Christmas morning. All month long they will try and figure out which names goes with which kid and listening to their reasoning behind why so and so MUST be jingle bells is hilarious and just adds to the fun!
- A few years ago we added the “service star” to our house. It’s just a yellow star shaped bean bag I made out of felt, but you do a service for someone (like make their bed or fold their laundry) and you leave the star behind. The person who received the service star then does a service for someone else and leaves behind the star. It brings a lot of selfless thought and service to the season which I love! Seeing the kids looking for ways to serve each other brings me joy and reminds me that they do like each other a little bit.
Whatever Christmas looks like in your house and for your family IS the perfect Christmas. Decide on the traditions you want to focus on this year and dive in! Toss our traditions that cause stress or aren’t working for you anymore. Say no to even the best of ideas if it’s just one more thing on the calendar. Give yourself permission to slow down and enjoy your people. Sing Christmas songs at the top of your lungs, put your tree up in November, it’s the season of JOY-go make yours and be 100% okay with whatever that looks like ❤️ And Merry Christmas from one stressed out burned out Holiday Cheer Meister to another ❤️ We’ve got this Mamas!