This one is for the new dads out there. Christmas time is approaching, and families around the world are celebrating in their own unique fashion. When children grow up, they will likely remember the traditions that were held by their family during the Christmas season. Chances are, you can remember a few traditions that your family had growing up. When parents come together to start their own family, they have the freedom to choose what traditions they would like to share with their children. This week’s topic will list some possible traditions that you may find worth considering as you start new family Christmas traditions. Enjoy!
- Go all out in building a snow man. If you are living in one of those regions where you have the blessing of snow each year, then why not make the most of it. Get the scarf, hat, buttons, carrot, broomstick, etc. Make it something iconic so the kids will have details to remember.
- Read a Christmas book together. “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “The Polar Express,” and “The Night Before Christmas” are all classics. There are plenty of other books out there to choose from as well.
- Watch a Christmas movie. I have a few movies that I like to watch every year: It’s a Wonderful Life, Christmas with the Kranks, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Miracle on 34th Street. Some of these are more suitable for kids and others more so for an older audience. There are plenty more out there. My dad has us adults watch Tombstone every year. He says it’s a Christmas movie, because it has some snow at the end. Not sure if that counts.
- Make some Christmas cookies. I’ve heard Santa loves Christmas cookies and a glass of milk (so do children). I remember using cookie cutter shapes and sprinkles for a sugar cookie recipe my mom held on to.
- Build a Gingerbread House. I can’t say I have ever done this before, but it looks like there is a lot of room for a family’s signature touch.
- Go find a live Christmas tree. My family will still get together every year to help my parents find the perfect tree to put some presents under. Afterwards, we all meet up back at my parent’s house for some obligatory hot chocolate.
- Go caroling at a retirement home or for elderly in your community. There are people around us that don’t have many visitors are family/friends to share the Christmas season with. This year more than most, they might be encouraged by some songs, gifts, and season’s greetings (even if we have to do so from a respectable distance).
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen for a Christmas meal. Check with the soup kitchens and see if there is need for assistance with a special meal this year. There may be an opportunity to teach your children how to serve the community.
- Throw a birthday party for Jesus. For any fellow Christ followers out there- our focus is to reflect on the gift of Christ’s birth. One way we can do so is by throwing a birthday party for Jesus. Jesus has made it clear that we show love to Him by loving others. Set aside some special time to do so.
- Write a letter/card to distant family or friends. Let those people that you don’t see very often know that you wish them a Merry Christmas. Every year, we get a card and an updated photo to put on the fridge from some people that love my family well. It means a lot to us.
- Decorate the house. Put up some lights, change the pillows and blankets, buy some poinsettias. My wife and I are fans of mistletoe hung up at the doorway…
- Drive around town and look at the lights. Even if you can’t afford to go crazy with your own lights each year, there may be plenty of sights to see around the neighborhood. Go take a walk or drive and check out the bright colors and large props.
- Play some Christmas music. I am partial to Trans-Siberian Orchestra, but you do you.
- Check out a live nativity scene or get the kid’s picture taken with Santa. This makes for some great memories over the years. Your kids won’t always want to sit on Santa’s lap or get excited to see the real donkey, so make the most of the time while it lasts.
- Do a “re-gift exchange” with other families. There are many different names for this exchange, but the basic concept is this- coordinate with another family or two to do a swap of gifts; then, find some toys or items around the house that someone else might enjoy getting as small gift; wrap it up and put some details on the package (such as “for young boy” or “for a mom”). There are some creative games to do with these gifts as well on the Internet. This is a great way to get rid of some toys to make room for any new stuff the children might accumulate during the Christmas time. It’s also a cheap way to share some love as well with others.
- Throw a Christmas party. Get together with loved ones, do some traditional games/activities, have everyone bring a signature dish. All of these details are what your children will remember about the party.
- Adopt a family for Christmas. If you can afford it, set aside some holiday spending money to make sure that another family can have some gifts for Christmas morning as well. I remember one year growing up when a church adopted my family. It was one of the best Christmas’s I have had.
- Make a Christmas ornament. Every year, each family member can make a Christmas ornament to put on the tree. Ornaments with pictures of the children on them are good for a trip down memory lane when you pull them out of the “Christmas Decorations” box. Make sure to put a name and year on them.
- Open a present early. My family has toyed with the idea of opening one gift on Christmas Eve. It hasn’t become a tradition for us yet, but I can see the appeal. It gives the family a little time to enjoy the experience together before the rush of Christmas Day events.
- Cook a special meal. Speaking of appetite, there’s nothing quiet as memorable as some good food around the holidays. I have heard some creative ideas that other families have done for a Christmas dinner. Here are a few that stood out to me: duck, turducken (yeah, it’s a real thing), nacho bar, breakfast for dinner, honey-glazed ham, and roasted lamb.
That’s the list. Feel free to share in the comments with any good ideas you have (or maybe some special traditions that you remember growing up with). Enjoy the Christmas Season!
Brian Faust is the Fatherhood Program Coordinator of Rock Solid Fatherhood in Warsaw, IN. He is the husband of the world’s best wife and father of three beautiful girls. He has nearly a decade of mentorship and mental health experience. Brian has a Bachelor’s in Psychology and a Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Grace College. It is his desire to come alongside men of all walks of life as they embrace their role as partner and father with rock solid strength.