Celebrating Christmas

Often revolving around food and activities, traditions make the holidays more memorable by creating excited anticipation, strengthening family bonds and gradually providing a nostalgic link to the past. Passing Christmas traditions down through the generations is a wonderful way to bring meaning and joy to the festive season.

Most New Zealanders already participate in traditions such as decorating a Christmas tree and having a celebratory lunch or dinner, but adopting more personal traditions is particularly meaningful. Here are some ideas to get you started in creating your own special Christmas traditions with your kids.

  • Choose a particular date to put up your Christmas tree. Play your family’s favourite Christmas music and make special food to enjoy while you do this together. Whatever food you decide on, consider making it a tradition each year to enjoy the same snack or treat while ‘decking the halls’.
  • If you’re super-fussy about your Christmas tree and just can’t bear the thought of the kids randomly attaching their preschool-made decorations to it, then you could consider having two Christmas trees – one for the main room, and one for either the playroom or their bedroom. They will love to decorate their own tree. Once they fall asleep on Christmas Eve, place a special gift underneath their tree so it’s the first present they see on Christmas morn.
  • Kids will love baking and preparing Christmas treats. Star and tree-shaped iced cookies, truffles and chocolate-dipped treats are both fun and easy for kids to make. Making these same treats each year will stir up a sense of nostalgia.
  • Rather than just purchasing ready-made Christmas decorations, consider making homemade decorations a part of the family history. Or you could purchase a Christmas ornament each time you go overseas, or whenever the family goes some place new. Look for an ornament that symbolises a particular milestone, or defining event. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how quickly you can build up a treasured, personal collection of decorations that reflect you as a family.
  • Opening a present on Christmas Eve is another tradition that many families instigate. One thought is to make the present something practical for the kids, for example, a new pair of pyjamas to ensure they always look nice on Christmas morning for the photos.
  • You could make Christmas Eve a family games night where you play everyone’s favourite board or card games. Or a family movies night where you watch your favourite Christmas flicks. You could also start a Christmas-themed puzzle on a table in a quiet room somewhere in your home. This is a great ‘chill out’ option for those who have large family gatherings and holiday visitors. Whenever anyone wants to get away from the action, they can retreat to work on the puzzle.
  • An annual Christmas photo is another special idea. Take a photo of your children standing in a particular spot each year (in front of the tree, by the front door, any place that will be consistent from year to year). You could put these in a separate Christmas family album so they are able to be compared year upon year.
  • Keep a simple Christmas scrapbook. Each year, add a page or two with details about how the family celebrated, favourite gifts given and received, and any visitors. Add a few photos, and a sample of the Christmas card (and letter, if you did one) sent out that year. And, for extra cute factor, don’t forget to keep in it any Dear Santa letters that your children write.
  • Christmas is a time for giving, so you could instill a tradition of either picking a favourite charity and making a donation to them; or doing something like visiting a local resthome or children’s hospital and taking some gifts, crafts or home-baking. You could also challenge each member of your family to fill a box or bag full of items to give away – charities such as Salvation Army, Women’s Refuge and the City Mission are on the lookout in particular at this time of year.

“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas ... perhaps ... means a little bit more.”~ Dr. Seuss (1904-1991), ‘How The Grinch Stole Christmas’.


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