1. Twenty-four (or 12) Days of Books
One of my favorite wedding presents was from my cousin and his family. They sent us several children's Christmas books and a letter explaining their family's holiday tradition. Each December, they wrap up 24 Christmas books and put them under the tree. Then, starting on the first day of December, the kids pick one book each night to unwrap and read. This works with any holiday, just switch up the theme of the books and the wrapping paper, and you are go. Plus, if you're short on the number of books, just check some out from your local library, or simply wrap a smaller number (like 12).
Here are a few of my cousin's family (Bryce and Kristen) favorites to get you started:
- The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski
- Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck
- Christmas Tapestry by Patricia Polacco
- Why Christmas Trees Aren't Perfect by Richard H. Schneider
- Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree by Robert E. Barry
- Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale by Martin Waddell
- The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado
- The Sweet Smell of Christmas by Patricia Scarry
- Auntie Claus by Elise Primavera
- Merry Christmas, Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola
This one comes from some great family friends of ours (thanks to the "W girls" Megan, Kaitlin, Alisa, and Sylvia!), and in my google searches I didn't find it anywhere-- so I think it's pretty unique and cute. They leave a container (like a pitcher with a lid) out on the doorstep on Christmas Eve, and in the morning it is filled with reindeer milk! It's usually green colored, but occasionally Rudolph will leave red milk. Since the names lead me to believe that most of Santa's reindeer are in fact male, my guess is that these reindeer are making a special delivery from the North Pole rather than leaving their own milk, which seems a little more palatable anyway.
3. Reindeer Wreath
I am in love with this carrot "reindeer wreath" from howdoesshe.com (click the link for the tutorial). It seems easy and fun to make and looks beautiful. The one with cranberries is beautiful too. I guess the only downside is that you would need to live somewhere cold where it wouldn't melt during the day (and be careful you don't place it in a place that gets a lot of sun). I think it would be fun to have the reindeer "eat it" on Christmas Eve. You could take it down and leave the ribbon and a few carrot pieces with bites out of them on the ground (seems easier than smashing it with a hammer or finding a way to melt it).
4. Jerusalem Dinner
I read about this one in a few places (like here and here), and I thought it was a wonderful tradition to really bring the true spirit of the holiday into focus. The dinner consists mostly of Middle Eastern food (think hummus, flat bread, salmon, olives, or however Middle Eastern you can get while still keeping the kids happy) and is eaten on the floor by candlelight. That provides a great setting to read the story of Christ's birth from the New Testament. I love these traditions that give us a moment to ponder amidst all of the fun, glitz, and presents. Plus, I could see how you could turn this into a pretty quick meal if you went the flat bread and hummus route. And that's always a good thing the night before an elaborate meal.
5. Fireplace Dinner
My friend, Carson, shared this fun tradition (her family has a lot of good ones). "We... used to make our Christmas Eve meal in the fireplace (like hot dogs or something). I'm sure it was just so my mom didn't have to cook a big meal two nights in a row, but it turned out as a fun tradition!" That seems like such a cozy Christmas dinner. It makes me wish we had a fireplace to sit around and roast some hot dogs together on Christmas Eve. But then I remember we have a toddler and think maybe we'll hold off on this one for a few years :)
Share -- These were just five of our favorite traditions, but I'm dying to hear more from you all. Please share!