Growing up, my parents gave me the gift of simple yet meaningful holidays. They created family traditions that were designed to focus on gratitude and giving, and spending time together as a family.
Christmas was my parents’ favorite holiday (it’s my favorite, too), so today I am sharing ways my parents created meaningful Christmas traditions:
- Singing Christmas carols together, sometimes with friends and sometimes with only our family.
- Learning Christmas songs to play in our family quartet/quintet/octet (it grew over the years; that’s what happens when you have nine siblings who all play violin or viola or cello). We then performed at home for my mom but also (my favorite) in nursing homes.
- My dad reading the Nativity story out loud on Christmas Eve while kids acted it out wearing simple Nativity costumes sewn by my mom.
- Keeping Christmas gifts intentionally simple, both to focus on the meaning behind the holiday and to finance projects for others. I remember one year my parents decided to spend most of our Christmas money on a donation for a friend whose son needed an operation on his face.
- Having us each draw the name of one sibling to give a gift. We still draw names every year. Gifts are sometimes simple, sometimes extravagant, and always very appreciated!
- Skipping fancy Christmas dinners and sticking to easy, simple meals that day.
Because my parents did such a wonderful job of creating a fairly simple yet meaningful Christmas, it has been pretty easy for me to create a Christmas that is meaningful within my family’s means!
Here are things I do to make Christmas easy for ME:
- No fancy meals. There is plenty of excitement around Christmas, and I don’t love to cook.
- Simple gifts. We buy one family gift that the four kids share, and then they draw names and each child buys one gift for one sibling. This year the big family gift is a bit more personalized: each kid gets a Playmobil Advent calendar. Johnny is getting the dragon set, Emma the pony set, Lily the fairy set, and Anna a vintage mom and baby set I found on eBay (affiliate links). This means that they will be opening this gift throughout December, which, as a bonus, means they have a ready-made Christmas activity! They will open sibling gifts and stockings on Christmas morning.
- Early Christmas shopping. I already have everyone’s gifts finished, and I plan to help the kids get sibling gifts by mid-November. Stockings will have some Hershey’s kisses, probably an orange, and any handmade gifts we get made.
Here are things I do to make Christmas an opportunity to spend time together as a family:
- Get all the preparation done early so we aren’t spending December running errands!
- Spend time together singing Christmas Carols
- Reading Christmas-themed books together using our Picture Book Advent Calendar
- Go on walks to admire Christmas lights
- Read stories from past copies of our family Christmas Book.
Here are ways we focus on giving during the holidays:
- Get our family into the holiday spirit by focusing on gratitude throughout November.
- Pick organizations to make donations to (here is a list of several we like that you may not have heard of!)
- Have the kids draw names and then create or purchase gifts for their assigned sibling.
- Help out at church and with any other opportunities we can find in the community. There will be more community opportunities as the kids get older.
How do you create meaningful holidays for your family?