Christmas is just a few days away. I realize that this season gets so busy for most of us. It is also a very fun time for Christmas traditions. I've got 10 great ideas for family fun during the holiday season.
Some of you may know through my Facebook or Google+ pages that my Aunt was hit by a car and killed earlier this month. It was quite devastating to my whole family. It, of course, was never supposed to happen. She was very special to myself and many people. We will miss her greatly. While my girls and I were in Arizona to be with family and attend the funeral, I thought a few times about the post I needed to do for Busch Gardens. I knew it was going to be late. At the end of November, they invited us as their guests to attend Christmas Town. While in Arizona, I kept thinking about how glad I was that our whole family went. We had a fun time as a family. This year with everything that has happened it makes me think more about how you never know what life will bring your way. It makes me appreciate taking the time to do the special things, whether they are little or big with our kids and families because we just never know. Along those lines, I wanted to share 10 of our family's favorite Christmas traditions. They are traditions for us and they are also family fun. They are a great time to spend a little time during this busy season to make family a priority and do something meaningful that builds memories and over time, family traditions. Thanks to the good folks at Busch Gardens Christmas Town, we were able to do quite a few of our favorite Christmas traditions in one night before everything happened with my Aunt. We are so grateful!
Play games together
My parents visit us every year for Christmas. It seems like a lot of years we end up with some kind of ‘tournament' going on. Last year it was a family Uno tournament. It was so fun. My parents just got here for their Christmas visit. Guess what game is already out? Uno.
The game doesn't matter. Just pick a game and spend a few minutes and enjoy your kids/family.
For me, cookies are a huge part of the holiday season. I hate making cookies. Christmas is usually the only time of year I make cookies. I usually make 3 or 4 different kinds. Now that my girls are older, each year they look through the Cooky Book and pick out a recipe they want to make. We usually make them together. It isn't any big event or costly thing, but it has become a Christmas tradition my girls and I look forward to. Earlier in the season I made my Great Grandma's Chocolate Spice cookies.
Decorate the tree together
We have one Christmas tree. We decorate it together as a family. No, it isn't perfect or magazine worthy. It is a fantastic tree and a fantastic tradition. There are memories as we pull ornaments out. Stories are told. My husband and I put our 1st Anniversary ornament on our tree together, just like I saw my parents do when I was growing up. It is the little things. It is always fun.
When the kids were little, all the ornaments would be bunched up at the bottom of the tree. Now they are pretty good at covering the whole tree. They love decorating the tree. Again, it is not any costly or big event, but it is family fun and has become a Christmas tradition.
Give or make ornaments
Someday I want to write a whole post about ornaments, but for now I will just say that giving or making ornaments can definitely become a part of your Christmas traditions.
When I was growing up, my mom gave my brother and I 1 ornament each year. I now have those ornaments on my tree. They tell a little of the story of my life. I now do the same thing with my girls.
Every year in late summer, when ornaments start appearing, we start looking. We try to find an ornament that reflects something they did or something they love that year. The girls love pulling them out each year and finding their special place on the tree for their ornaments.
This year when we were at Christmas Town, we had the pleasure of making an ornament together as a family. Did you know that Busch Gardens has a pottery studio? Who knew right? I certainly had no idea! They also are very reasonably priced…gotta love that! We were given the opportunity to make a Poinsettia ornament together. I LOVED it! Now we have yet another memory and ornament to pull out each year when we decorate our tree.
Go to a Christmas show
This is something we have added now that our girls are a little older. Our Christmas shows have varied from a show put on at a local school to something as professional as the shows at Christmas Town. The shows at Christmas Town this year were fantastic! My girls loved seeing the dancers and hearing the beautiful voices. It added to our Christmas celebration and fun for this year for sure.
If your budget and time allow for a big event, by all means find one and enjoy it! If your budget doesn't allow for a big event or night out, find something small. Lots of churches and schools put on productions this time of year that are either free or very reasonable. Make sure you pick something that will be enjoyable to the entire family…that way the event will be family fun not family torture. Lol!
Might be a bit obvious, but a part of our Christmas traditions none the less. I know some people have a certain place they go every year and have pictures taken with the same Santa every year. Makes for a fantastic memory and tradition.
We tend to find a day and place that works for our schedule that year, but we always visit Santa. This year, we got to have dinner with Santa at Christmas Town. It was fantastic! They took care of everything. Each child got to spend time talking with Santa. He really took time with each one…it was really sweet. Then he told our favorite Christmas story (Twas the Night Before Christmas) in a very theatrical way. It will be a great memory for sure!
Read Christmas books
One of my favorite traditions is to read the book Twas the Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve right before the kids go to bed.
I have also seen cute ideas to wrap 24 books and open one Christmas book and read it each night leading up to Christmas. These can be books you have on hand rather than needing to spend money or you can add to your Christmas book collection each year until you have 24 books.
Watch Christmas movies
My girls and I LOVE to watch movies during the Christmas season. Other times of the year, we rarely eat in the living room or while watching T.V., but during the holiday season, we often eat in the living room while watching a Christmas movie. It is so fun because there are just so many fun Christmas movies.
A few of our favorite movies we watch every year are: The Santa Clause, Santa Clause 2, The Santa Clause 3, Prep & Landing / Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice, Miracle on 34th Street, and lots of other good ones we find on Netflix.
Go see Christmas lights
Oh my goodness…the list just keeps getting better and better. We love going to look at Christmas lights. This year going to Christmas Town at Busch Gardens was amazing. They had 1,500 fresh-cut trees (which they use to mulch the property after the season) and over 6 million lights! That's some lights, baby! It was so pretty.
We normal find one night during the Christmas season and give the kids tickets to ride the Christmas Express. We then spend a night as a family driving all over town to look at the various light displays people set up.
When we used to live in Oregon (we've also found one about an hour from our house here as well), we found a place you could pay $5 and drive through to see all the lights. It was at a race track that wasn't in use at that time of year. It was so pretty.
If you look, you can usually find some type of light display or make your own with the Christmas Express idea I wrote about in another post.
Make Gingerbread houses
I saved the best for last! We have been doing this tradition since I was 5 years old. Every year we make these adorable log cabin style gingerbread houses. I wrote about them, so you can get the recipe and make your own if you are interested. It is such a fun, candy filled tradition…what kid wouldn't like that, right? Whether you make your own or buy a kit, making gingerbread houses can be such a fun creative family activity. I highly recommend you give it a try.
Whether it is a big event like one special night going to Christmas Town at Busch Gardens or several smaller activities, please spend some time with your family and your kids this holiday season. Start a new tradition or enjoy an old one. Enjoy the moment and the day. Give them a hug. Tell them how much you love them. After all, that is what the holiday season needs to be about.