One of the many joys of being a parent during the holidays is getting to start your own family traditions, finding special ways to make Christmas unique to your family. In the six years since my husband and I had our first son (and two more along the way) creating traditions for Christmas Eve have been some of our most fun. Here are just a few of them!
Christmas PJs: My husband and I borrowed this from the friends who set us up, a couple who are some of our closest friends, and started exchanging Christmas PJs to wear on Christmas Eve while we were dating. It’s been all the more fun with three little ones joining in the matching fun! This year I splurged and got Grinch Pajamas from Hannah Andersson, and I’ve been wearing mine for like a month already. So comfy! Get them early enough and they’re worth it!
Christmas cookies: Some years we’ve included other friends, most years extended family, and lately three separate bowls of batter (hey, just keeps it simple with no waiting our turn!) but it’s always good fun to make Christmas cookies. The main objective is have a few for Santa, but it’s nice to make them early enough to where you have some to plate for teachers, neighbors and friends.
Reindeer food: I learned about this from preschool teachers and had to steal the idea. All it is is a plastic goodie bag filled with raw oats and something glittery to sprinkle in the yard to help Santa’s reindeer find your yard and stop for a little snack. The kids love it! I love this recipe for it because the ingredients are all biodegradable and because it’s easy! Using cookie sprinkles also means you can make the most of your leftover cookie-baking ingredients!
Family church: So many churches now offer a family service on Christmas Eve and it’s such a nice treat – to have the chance to worship on such a holy occasion but not feel like you’re disturbing people with squirmy children. One of my favorite services for kids is the Christmas Eve service at Covenant Presbyterian that includes a post-worship petting zoo! It starts at a family-friendly 10 a.m., lasts maybe 20-25 minutes and now includes a two-hour festival on the lawn afterward, where kids can see a camel – and other nativity animals, drink hot chocolate and do Christmas crafts.
Tracking Santa: My husband introduced the Norad Santa Tracker to my boys, a website/app where you can “track” Santa starting at 4 a.m. on Christmas Eve. You can find out where he is around the world, how many presents he’s delivered, etc, and how long until you can expect him in your town! I had no idea this has been going on since 1955, when a child misdialed a number in a newspaper department store ad trying to call Santa and got the Continental Air Defense Command instead. The Air Force colonel who answered played along and the tradition began that now features calls in eight languages from kids from the Far East to Europe to the U.S. and Canada.
Merry Christmas, Smarties! All the best from my family to yours!! Carroll Walton