Last year I blogged about several of our favorite traditions we have done for nearly 14 years now (my husband's 'light turning on ceremony', Christmas-Adam sleepover under the tree, Gingerbread houses made with leftover Halloween candy, sibling gift card exchange dinner & date night (a total favorite!), fancy Chicken Cordon Blue Christmas Eve Dinner, Sub for Santa drop off, etc.) There are too many to count, but this year I wanted to share a couple NEW favorite traditions that have really helped put the true meaning of Christmas back into this season for my family.
We have loved this Christmas Advent Calendar. I put together last year that has correlating scriptures for each day of December. I switched up the scriptures a little from the ones she had online, but the kids have really had fun looking up scriptures each night and it's been a great way to get discussions going about Christ's birth and what it means to us. I also added a few nights where we sing certain Christmas songs around the piano. My family is far from musically inclined (in fact, I am totally tone-deaf), but we have had fun singing some of our favorite songs around the piano. It's been fun to see even our 11 year old boy reluctantly come over and sing every now and then.
Now, onto our most favorite tradition that we started this year and will never forget. It was such a touching experience that even my children talk about it still, several weeks later. I got the idea from one of my favorite authors and motivational speakers, Emily Freeman. The idea was to make 'homeless care packages'. We all know this time of year there are several people on the streets or corners asking for money or needing help. I know people say to be careful to give them money because you never know what they might spend it on. So, the idea is that you put together these care packages and hand them out anytime you see someone in need.
I heard this idea, had major goosebumps and went straight to the store with my kids to put together some kits. I loved this idea and felt like it was something we could easily do and I was not expecting the amazing results that would come from it! We went to Walmart and picked out several simple things like new socks, ponchos, hand warmers, water bottles, granola bars, oranges, apples, treats, snacks, crackers, juice, raisins, candy, a Christmas note and picture of Christ. (Next year we want to add a toothbrush, toothpaste and few $1 gift certificates to McDonalds or somewhere they can get an inexpensive meal). My children all wrote a note of love in the Christmas letter, we sealed them up and got them ready to take out. We put together 18 kits just in time for us to walk out the door to our annual Temple Square Light visit.
The great thing about these kits is the ones we didn't give out (my sister went the next weekend and was able to give out 11 in just a short time), we have kept in our car and anytime we see someone with a sign, or someone who seems to be suffering, we give them a bag and wish them Merry Christmas. It has been so neat to see their eyes light up with excitement and gratitude for such a simple gift.
One last tradition that my sisters have done for years that I think is so cute is their children put together little gift bags with goodies and a little note that says congratulations on the best Christmas lights in town. They then drive around looking for their favorite decorated homes and then the children go up to the door and give them the treats with their little 'award' for best lights. My kids go with my sister every year and think this tradition is so fun. Simple, yet a great way to spread Christmas joy ;)
Last, but not least, we LOVE our annual neighborhood Christmas breakfast. This year a few friends and I were put in charge of all of the food and decorations for over 200 people. We saw a color scheme on Pintrest for red, white and blue and we were THRILLED with how everything came together. WE ahd to admit that the decor was some of the cutest we have ever seen in a church cultural hall. These pictures don't do it justice, but it was SO amazing! We had over 300 snowflakes hung from the cieling by fishing wire, 5 foot tall candy canes, and pure cuteness from one end to the other.
Besides the cute decor, the hot cocoa bar was a HUGE hit! The children (& Adults) loved the warm hot chocolate with all of their favorite toppings. They could make their hot chocolate unique by adding crushed candy canes, chocolate chips, regular marshmallows, peppermint marshmallows, coconut marshmallows, etc. The mason jars with ribbons and tags turned out super cute and would be a fun way to dress up any Christmas party you may have upcoming!
Okay, I am sure you have had enough of my ramblings. Feel free to share some of your favorite family traditions and I will be back tomorrow for a Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie that you (and Santa) are sure to love!!