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10 Great Ideas for Christmas Traditions

ADVENT

Advent is the period of four Sundays and weeks before Christmas that we use to prepare and remember the “Coming” of Jesus into the world.

On those four Sundays,

1) Gather around the dinner table or in a room or on the floor. Declare a NO Gadget zone.

2) Start by singing two to three classic Christmas songs that are centered on Jesus. You may print the lyrics with a Christmassy font beforehand for everyone, even the kids, to join in and sing along.

3) Follow it with a reading of a Christmas story from the Bible or any children’s Bible storybook. You can take turns and have each person read a small part of the story. Play soft Christmas music in the background or have someone play a musical instrument while everyone is listening to the story.

4) Ask everyone to reflect on the story and share their insights with the group. You may request each person to pick a character, animal, or inanimate object (Joseph, Mary, sheep, tree, rocks, etc.) and ask them one by one to describe how their chosen character must have felt.

Say something like, “If I were _____, I would have felt____ because ____.”

5) Have each person share a lesson they learned that can be applied to your lives today.

6) End the session by saying a prayer of thanksgiving for what Jesus has done based on what everybody shared.

As you do your advent sharing, you put Jesus at the center of your celebrations, and you’re your time together meaningful. Interact and be present at the moment with your family and friends, not with your smartphone or tablet.

ROLE-PLAYING

For this Nativity re-enactment, you may invite cousins, grandparents, and a few friends to participate if they are with you on Christmas eve.

You may prepare your own script or download one online. Use one that is simple, easy to follow, and fun for people of all ages. Intertwine the script with carols that you would sing at particularly exciting moments. Prepare the lyrics for everyone to sing along.

Assign key characters –  narrator, Joseph, Mary, baby Jesus, donkey, innkeeper, and wise men, and other optional characters. The more character, the merrier. Costumes are optional.

Act it out and make celebrating the birth of Christ much more memorable!

MAKE ORNAMENTS & DECORATE THE CHRISTMAS TREE TOGETHER

Buying ornaments from the store may seem easier than making your own but with the traffic that comes with this season, you may want to just go DIY.  Do-It-Yourself (DIY) items have become increasingly popular these days.  The key is to plan and start early.  Buy the materials even before the “Ber” months come and just store them in a safe, dry place in your home.  Go to thrift stores or shops that sell in bulk or wholesale so you get them at a lower cost.

Decide on what you want your decors to look like and match the materials with what you already have in the house.

You can use old photos, old small toys, or mementos from your travels as trimmings for your tree.  Check online for a way to make a Christmas wreath or anything that you fancy to decorate your home.

-Pick a date in December to be your special day to start decorating the house each year.

Some ideas for setting up the Christmas Tree:

-Make decorating the tree an event.

-Turn on Christmas music while decorating the tree.

-Sip some cocoa while you decorate.

Hang an ornament or an object that represents and commemorates each family member’s milestone for the year so that when you look at your tree, you remember all the fun memories you had for that year. It could be a small graduation hat ornament, a tiny baby feeding bottle, a souvenir from a recent travel, and so on. Keep the ornaments in a special box after the Christmas celebrations and bring them out again the following year. Keep adding “milestone” ornaments year after year.

-Keep the house lights dim as you decorate and once your tree is all decked out, turn the lights around the tree on and have a special moment of just admiring the tree. Take pictures!

BAKE CHRISTMAS GOODIES

Christmas recipes are a dime a dozen. Why don’t you start your online search and begin baking with your family! Your efforts don’t have to be perfect, but this simple act of preparing cookies, desserts and cakes together is definitely a sweet way to build fun and lasting memories for the family.

MOVIE NIGHT

Here are some movie night ideas:

– On Christmas Eve, gather the family together and enjoy watching an old-time Christmas movie. Some of the all-time favorites are: “It’s a Wonderful Life”, “How The Grinch Stole Christmas”, “A Christmas Story”,  “The Santa Clause”, “Miracle on 34th Street”, “Holiday Inn” and “A Christmas Carol”

– Watch together while enjoying popcorn and homemade cocoa.

– Wear matching Christmas Jammies or wear ugly Christmas sweaters.

– After the movie, you may talk about what you see everywhere during the Christmas season, and bring the conversation to putting Jesus back as the center of your celebrations. Pray and thank God together.

CANDLELIGHT DINNERS & TABLE SETTINGS

– A week before your special candlelight dinner, tell everyone to prepare a handwritten thank-you note for each member of the family. Ask them to share in the note, in a short and sweet way, how each person has touched them in a positive way during the year. The notes are to be given before the candlelight dinner and you may ask each person to read the letters aloud after dinner.

– Purchase or make a Christmas memory journal or scrapbook. Record your favorite Christmas traditions. Put photos and notes and keep adding to the scrapbook annually. This provides a wonderful way to look back on your past Christmas celebrations together.

As you plan your dinner, think of a theme to match your menu and your table setting.  A color palette will do if you prefer things simple.  Consider the types of dishes that everyone can eat, ensuring no one is allergic to the food you will serve. You can ask each member of the family to help with setting the table, bringing or preparing food on the table, cooling or warming the drinks, and slicing dessert.

– Set the table, light candles, and use tablecloths, cloth napkins, and your special Christmas dishes.

– Before or after dinner, everyone shares three things they are grateful for to God for the year.

FAMILY PICTORIAL

You can come up with your own family photo greeting card with these ideas:

Choose a good photo studio or do it at home with a nice Christmas backdrop – usually by the Christmas tree.

– Dress up in the same color or have matching tops

– Once in a decade, you may choose to be in your jammies or you may wear something different and crazy.

– Should you choose to do it at home with no one to take your family photo, put the camera on a stable counter, set the self-timer, and ask everyone to smile!

– Check online for various applications for you to create your personalized card or e-card using the photos.

KRIS KRINGLE

In the Philippines, this is known as “Monito-Monita” –  a fun way of exchanging gifts without knowing who the giver, and sometimes not even who the receiver/recipient is. Doing a Kris Kringle within your family will teach your kids the lesson of giving, no matter how small they think the value of their gift may be.

Here are some “Kris Kringle” Ideas:

– Set your own Gift-Giving Rules such as nothing bought – all handmade, or gifts P100 or below, gift weekly or only on revelation day. Revelation Day is when you reveal to each other who the givers are when you give the gift.  You may opt to use code names for an added twist.

– Write each name or code name on a small piece of paper and fold or roll each one. Throw the pieces of paper with everyone’s name in a hat or bowl and have each person pick a recipient to give a gift to. There should be no switching allowed.

– Do a white elephant with a spin. Half of you will be assigned to bring gag gifts and the other half will be assigned to bring nice gifts. This makes for a fun gift-giving session.

– Have the whole family go to a thrift store together. Everyone is given a small fund to buy gifts for all members of the family. On the day of the “kris kringle”, the person giving the gift shares how or why it describes the recipient, in an encouraging, positive way.

– End the Kris Kringle by thanking God, the giver of all gifts.

CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN

– Make or purchase an advent calendar to help you countdown to Christmas.

– Day by day, starting on December 1st, the windows or bags or boxes are opened until December 24th.

– Each day contains an exciting activity that the family will do together or a treat that each child will receive or will need to hunt for in the house.

This calendar is a fun way to anticipate the coming of Christmas Day.

GIVE AWAY GIFT BASKETS

This Christmas, remember the less fortunate and give back to others. Teach your kids that it’s more blessed to give than to receive by involving them in doing something nice for someone who has less. Allow giving to instill gratitude in your children for what they have.

Here’s a couple of ideas:

– Put together a shoebox filled with gifts for children who are at risk, in need, and those on the streets.

– Pack a basket with a mix of staple food items such as sugar, milk, rice, or bread with some treats like chocolates and chips

– Donate pre-loved toys, books, clothes, and shoes.