It’s easy to get caught up in the overwhelming hustle and bustle of the holidays. With Christmas decorations on store shelves before Halloween, we too often find ourselves unwilling participants in a contest for the biggest pile of presents, most money spent, most parties attended, and most elaborate Christmas cards.
Take five, take a breath, and take a trip back through time to celebrate a more down-to-earth Christmas this year.
Make this the year you slow down and bring back some of the more traditional Christmas customs to your home and family.
Make Homemade Gifts and Ornaments
For gifts for your extended family, give a homemade ornament to each family member in lieu of gifts. You’ll cut back on your shopping, save yourself some money, and you’ll be able to make heartwarming, personalized gifts for each person in your family.
Making an ornament with your children is a fun holiday activity, and can be your new family tradition. Plan ahead, get all of your supplies together, and have a Christmas ornament project night on Thanksgiving Day.
Don’t Forget the Outdoors
Decorate an outdoor tree in your yard. Pick a tree in a prominent location – it doesn’t have to be an evergreen tree; even the bare branches of a deciduous tree will come to life with holiday decorations. Decorate your tree with ornaments from nature that can be food for your birds. Use rustic twine to make loops to hang cross-section slices of apples, orange slices and carrots. String cranberry and popcorn garlands. Hang pinecones with peanut butter and bird seed, and small ornamental buckets of bird seed.
The Twelve Days of Christmas Stories
Read a different classic Christmas story every evening around the fireplace for the 12 days leading up to Christmas. Even older children and teens will enjoy an old-fashioned story hour.
Check out of your local library copies of The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell, The Mitten by Jan Brett, The Little Drummer Boy by Ezra Jack Keats and your children’s favorites, ending with the story of Jesus’ birth from Luke 2:1-20 on Christmas Eve.
Give Classic Gifts
Make your gift-giving more back-to-basics by giving traditional gifts such as classic books you remember from your childhood, classic board games, DVDs of old movies, and traditional toys.
Put some old-fashioned favorites in your children’s stockings – oranges, animal crackers, penny candy, and Cracker Jacks.
Set Up a Santa’s Workshop
Turn your dining room table into a Santa’s Workshop, where you can leave piles of cards to sign and address, gifts to wrap, ornaments to make, lights to test or repair, cookies to decorate and other ongoing holiday projects. What used to be a mess is now a festive part of your holiday home!
Give yourself an excuse to leave the house “Christmasy” for a while. Epiphany, the day we remember the Wise Men who visited the Christ child, is 12 days after Christmas, Jan. 6.
Make that the day you and your family say goodbye to Christmas for another year, take down the stockings and pack away all the Christmas gear. Mark the occasion by giving your child a small gift or ornament to mark the occasion.