When you think back to Christmases as a child, most likely the things of which you have the fondest memories are those special Christmas traditions your family experienced together. Having special routines that you do year after year helps children develop an excited expectation for the holiday to come, and builds family unity and bonding. “Home for Christmas” can be a lot more than just physical location – Christmas traditions can be the glue that makes people feel like they’re home, by drawing family members back to their most meaningful moments together.
Part 1 of this series looked at some wonderful family traditions homeschoolers can enjoy at Christmastime, but there are just so many! Consider these additional ways to bring family members together to create memories and meaning that will last for many years to come:
- Give cookies to shut-ins, or those who have to work on Christmas. Take the standard cookie-making tradition to a new (and generous) level! Think about elderly or sick persons that may not be able to celebrate Christmas fully with their families or persons who do not have Christmas day off from work. Bake special Christmas cookies and start a tradition of delivering them on Christmas day, to bring some cheer to those who might not otherwise experience it.
- Have a birthday party. A birthday party for Jesus, that is! Bake a special birthday cake and hold a celebration on Christmas day to recognize the reason for the season. Sing Happy Birthday, and read the story of Jesus’ birth.
- Sleep under the Christmas tree. Make all that effort in choosing and decorating a Christmas tree worthwhile! Have a family sleepover one night prior to Christmas, where everyone camps out under the tree. Get out the sleeping bags, drink some hot chocolate, read some Christmas stories, and fall asleep to the beautiful glow of the Christmas lights on the tree.
- Put up a nativity scene. Read the Christmas story and have children put up each of the characters in the nativity as that part of the story is read. For young children, the nativity scenes can be child-oriented sets the children can play with; as children get older, they can make their own nativity or purchase a more adult version. Consider these nativity set options for children:
- Give gifts of life to the poor. If you want a tradition that focuses on the spirit of Christmas, then spend Christmas Eve or a portion of Christmas morning choosing gifts for the impoverished. For example, for $30 you can give 5 ducks to a hungry family, who can then use the eggs for food or income, and even their feathers to sell at the market. Gifts range from water wells to livestock to clothing or educational supplies. At the time of year when your family is blessed, use it as an opportunity to make giving to others a tradition. Consider these gift catalogs:
- Give gifts to Jesus. Have each family member write letters to Jesus about what they plan to give Him this year (ways each person can give themselves to Jesus). Examples would be ways to improve personal character, be more giving, show kindness to siblings, etc. Put each letter in a stocking and hang on the mantle for Christmas morning. Each Christmas, read the previous year’s letters and discuss how well each person did in fulfilling their gift to the Christ child. A variation of this idea is Shepherd’s Pouches, in which money is placed into a pouch for each child when they give a gift to Jesus by serving others. The money can be used to purchase something for someone in need.
- Give a surprise gift of service to a family member. Let the focus at Christmas time be on giving rather than receiving. Make it a tradition that each family member does something special for each person in the family on Christmas Eve or Christmas day – a gift of service rather than of purchase. Some ideas:
- Give Dad a backrub
- Clean sister’s room for her
- Fix brother’s broken toy
- Make breakfast for Mom
- Shine Dad’s work shoes
- Organize the baby’s toys so she can find them
- Clean the bathroom for Mom