We live in a world focused on Christmas Chaos! Here are 5 Tips to making meaningful Christmas memories in your own home this year.
1. GIVE experiences to create Christmas memories
- My favorite Christmas season was when we lived in a home FULL of busy, young children. My husband came home from work and said, “Pack a bag tonight. We are headed to NYC for three days. We leave tomorrow.” He had planned the trip. Booked the hotel and flights and arranged child care while we were gone. This was mid-december. We saw the tree at Rockefeller Center, went ice skating, ate delicious meals, shopped on 5th Avenue. It was just the gift I needed that year…to be with him.
- One year we wrapped up a broom, a bottle of green liquid and 3 airline tickets. Our three oldest girls opened them on Christmas Day. It was a trip to Chicago to see Wicked and shop! I will never forget that trip and I don’t think they will either.Food is a big deal around here! A family Trip to Melting Pot or your favorite nice restaurant, a ride to downtown SLC to see the lights and eat dinner overlooking the temple.
- My favorite days of the year are December 1-24th! The anticipation of Christmas is the BEST part. Take advantage of that with making an advent calendar! We have one we bought years ago. It looks like a little wooden house and all the doors and windows have numbers, 1-24 on them. They open and we place a piece of Christmas candy and a slip of paper with the activity for the day. It may be as simple as making Christmas Sugar Cookies, or heading downtown for The Festival of Lights. We work as a family to decide on things we want to do so everyone has buy in into the experiences.
- Go downtown and feed the homeless at a shelter. This was one of my family’s FAVORITE experiences ever! We all left feeling so renewed and so grateful. It was a wonderful thing to do TOGETHER.
2. Create Traditions
- Every year since we have been married we have picked a family or two and done the 12 days of Christmas. We have a different name for it but that will remain anonymous so our secrets are NOT revealed! Some years we have done widows, some single sisters, some families with temporal challenges. We have done families we just love, families with health challenges, families who have been impacted by the death of a loved one. Every year has been a different and rewarding experience and has changed the way my family looks at Christmas. One year I suggested maybe we hold off on this until next year. There was major pushback! This annual tradition is one of my favorites and was started by a family in our ward, where I grew up. One Christmas, my Dad was out of a job and there were 6 young kids at home. Every night for 12 nights we got a delivery and a ding dong ditch on our door step. It was never anything fancy- just fun and let us know we were loved. In our home these are Christmas memories that means the most to us!
- Every year we do a dinner from the countries of our ancestors, Germany, Sweden and England. This always ends up on the Advent Calendar and even though the food is not our favorite, it is so fun to remember where we came from!
- Go to the main street of our little town every year for the Christmas Tree Lighting. Most towns probably have something similar. The weekend after Thanksgiving we always head down with family to hear a wonderful musical program, drink hot cocoa, and see the tree lit!
- On the first Monday Night of December, we invite all who would like to come to our annual Christmas sing-a-long. It is in our home, we have a wonderful pianist who can play at the drop of a hat! We pass around music that is familiar to all and sing our hearts out. I ask everyone to bring a treat so it is not a burden on me at that busy time of year. It is a wonderful way to “sing in the season.”
- Have Papa read ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas after acting out the Christmas Story from the Bible. (Dad even called from their mission in England to read to his grandkids when they were gone!)
- Sing hymns before family prayer on Christmas Eve.
- Don’t be afraid to start something new. Two years ago we went to downtown to attend a wonderful church service in a Catholic Cathedral. It was a great way to start the evening and create wonderful Christmas memories.
- Our Christmas Eve always ends with Magic Christmas Cocoa! Somehow the kids always fall asleep faster when they drink this, knowing Santa will be here soon!
3. Keep the focus of CHRISTmas on Christ
- When the kids were little we had a “manger” with our creche scene that was filled with pieces of straw-one for ever good deed they did. The goal was to make baby Jesus’ bed soft by Christmas Eve. It worked wonders as there were helpers every time time I turned around!
- A few years ago when we had all the marrieds and college kids home, we did an FHE where everyone got their own mini Christmas tree. I bought small ornaments that represented parts of our testimonies. We all decorated our own “Testimony Tree” and displayed them in hopes of strengthening each others testimonies.
- In the month of December for scripture study, take the time to memorize The Living Christ. We have done this as a family and it has brought an amazing Spirit of testimony and of our Savior into our home.
- There have been years when, before gifts are exchanged, we have passed out a piece of paper and had everyone write on that paper what they will give to Christ during the following year. Then we place it in the empty stocking (after presents are unloaded) to be pulled out the following Christmas. We also write what we are “giving” Christ that year on a sticky note to be placed on a bathroom mirror or somewhere we will be reminded of it throughout the year. A year later we take a few minutes on Christmas Dayto think about how we did on our “gift” to Christ.
- For scripture study in December, read scriptures about the Savior, His life, His miracles, his goodness. We like to do this by candlelight-it is another way of bring a reverent spirit to scripture study.
- Display pictures of Christ in your home prominently during this season especially. Several years ago I had a friend give me a set of Christmas ornaments that were art pieces by Liz Lemon Swindle. I created a Christ Tree with those, some ornaments from my mission and any nativity ornaments the kids had made in primary, etc.
- Act out the Christmas Story on Christmas Eve. Another favorite tradition!
4. Keep it simple
- Christ was a simple man and the entire meaning of Christmas is to keep our focus on him. Don’t over-program yourself. Make sure the activities you are doing promote togetherness, being supportive to each other (recitals, concerts, etc) When we try to do too much, we lose focus of what is really important because we are too stressed.
- Keep gifts simple. This is something I wish I would have incorporated long ago. My friend, who has since moved, mother of three boys, shared this with me. Give them: something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read. This keeps things to a minimum and really does help keep your focus where it should be.
- I have made the mistake more than once to try to fill the advent calendar with things that we simply cannot do. Make it simple. Sugar cookies you can make ahead and freeze, then pull out to decorate a night in December, a simple family night of looking at lights in the neighborhood and getting hot cocoa. Sometimes we try to do too much and then feel stressed. That is when the magic of being together is ruined. Keep it simple to create lasting Christmas memories
- Stay organized with the free Organizing the Holidays Printable byThe Cottage Market. It is an easy time of year to forget things. Keep a planner with you and write everything down. Shop online, in the fall or throughout the year so December does not become so crazy. There are so many ways to organize your Christmas fun online. Get on Pinterest and make it happen! You don’t even have to come up with it!
5. Acts of Service
- In the home create a Secret Santa program among the family members. Every day do something nice for the person you have.
- As a Mom, give out “Christmas Kisses” (the Hershey kind!) when you see an act of kindness being performed. This creates a habit of looking for the positive and will definitely help to create happy Christmas memories for the kids.
- Incorporate “Christlike Time” into your Family Home Evening. During the week notice what others are doing to be obedient, helpful, cheerful, service oriented or in other words-Christlike. Then on Monday Night during family night each person says one thing they noticed about the other people in the family. It will motivate the family to do kind acts for others.
- Make and bring neighbor gifts to close friends and family.
- gifts in a jar
- adorable microwavable heat packs
- thoughtful Christmas gift tags
- yummy homemade bath bombs
- super cute coasters
- roasted, sugared pecans
- 25 DIY gifts people actually want
- easy, homemade Christmas ornaments
- Make your gifts instead of buying. (See above links for homemade gift ideas)
- Spend time with extended family that live within driving distance.
- Sing, play an instrument or read a book as you visit an Old Folks Home or an Assisted Living.
- Participate in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Light The World program.
Acts of service always create meaningful Christmas memories your family will never forget!
Making Christmas meaningful
As we keep the focus of the Holiday where it began, our testimonies of the Savior will increase, we will feel more calm at a busy time of year (because we feel the Spirit), and our homes and families will feel like a place of refuge as opposed to the chaos around us. These 5 tips to making meaningful Christmas memories in your home can easily be modified to fit your needs. Hope you enjoy! Merry CHRISTmas!