I can still remember my favourite Christmas decorations from when I was a kid. I’d play with them before they officially went on display around the house or on the tree. I wish my mom had kept the cute little elves, they looked exactly like today’s The Elf on the Shelf, but way lower maintenance for my mom! She just popped them out of the box and I played with them for hours. It reminds me that we don’t have to go to elaborate lengths to create Christmas traditions for our kids. All of my most treasured memories are of simple things, like my brother and I pilfering homemade chocolate chip squares that were kept in cold storage until Christmas day; having huge, extended-family dinners on a makeshift table in the rec room downstairs; and spending leisurely Christmas mornings opening gifts and snacking on sweet Italian panettone and tangy O.J.
Start some Christmas traditions with your tots today and remember to keep them simple!
Christmas tree cutting is a huge, annual tradition in my family. We always cut down our own tree in the forest where we live and we take along hot cocoa in a thermos and snacks for the outing. My kids still remember the year we all slid down a frozen creek bed with our freshly cut tree to get to the bottom of the mountain we had scaled. Bring along a toboggan for toddlers with little legs who tire easily!
Christmas cards are the perfect activity to do with toddlers, but you need to shelve your usual, exacting standards and let your tots have their way with them. They can make their own or help you decorate cards and envelopes with colouring and festive stickers. Relatives love seeing children’s artwork.
Cookie decorating and gingerbread house-building are favourites with my kids. They don’t mind if you don’t make the gingerbread yourself, they’re just happy propping up walls with icing and plastering candies all over everything. Cut yourself some slack and buy a DIY cookie or gingerbread kit and watch their faces light up.
Tree decorating is always an easy and festive activity. Play some Christmas faves on the record player, make up a batch of hot buttered popcorn and let your toddlers put ornaments on the lower half of the tree. Choose wooden ornaments and other unbreakable items so you can relax with some eggnog while you let them loose on the tree.
Christmas movies are a great excuse to cuddle up together by the fire with hot cocoa and watch some festive flicks. Tots will enjoy Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, A Charlie Brown Christmas and The Muppet Christmas Carol. Plus, mom and dad get to put their feet up for a bit!
Treats for Santa and his reindeer are a must on Christmas eve. Have tots help to wash carrots and place them on a plate for the reindeer, and don’t forget cookies and a glass of milk or brandy for Santa Claus. ‘Cause baby, it’s cold out there!
For more, simple Christmas traditions to start with your tots, check out An Old-Fashioned Family Christmas.