Christmas is only weeks away, and the weather is hotting up… and yet the shops are full of snowmen and wintery Christmas scenes.
Because Christmas time is at the start of our summer, some of the more ‘traditional’ traditions don’t seem to fit with our family. In an attempt to make Christmas meaningful to us, and to make sure the focus is not purely on presents and that one day of excess, over the years we have been working on creating our own Christmas traditions, and on ways to give back to the community.
Here are five of our family traditions for Christmas…
The Giving Tree.
In the past we’ve placed gifts under a giving tree at one of the large chain stores, and when we became part of the local school community we’ve continued this tradition by contributing to school’s giving tree. Each of my children choose, wrap and label a gift for a child of the same age and sex as themselves, and place it under the tree. The school then passes these on to a local charity who distributes them to families in need.
This has been a wonderful way for my kids to learn about sharing, and being grateful. They are much more able to understand that others may not be as lucky as they are, when they are focusing on the idea of a child ‘just the like me’. Even Morgan, at five, is able to imagine what it might be like to not get any presents at Christmas, or to not have pencils and paper to draw with.
Gifts that Help Others.
It can be hard to buy teacher gifts, and I know from experience, when I was teaching, I really didn’t need another mug, or lovely bar of soap, so it has become a tradition in our house, that teacher gifts are always a home-baked treat and ‘a gift that helps someone else’. That usually means a charity card from World Vision or similar.
My kids love to pick out something that matches the person they are giving it to – early learning for indigenous kids for our fabulous preschool assistant, fruit trees for the teacher who loves to garden and soccer balls for a school for the teacher who is a football nut. So it’s still a personal, thoughtful gift, but it also helps others.
I may have started the advent tradition as a way of helping the kids understand how long it was till Christmas, but it was Nanny Pickle (my Mum) who went nuts with it!
Our amazing advent calendar was made by my Mum, and each year she fills all the little bags with surprises and delivers it to our house in time for us to start counting down the days till Christmas. Ok so our advent calendar is a little over the top, but even a very simple advent calendar like this free printable from Inviting Printables, is lots of fun and helps kids understand the passing of time till the big event.
In our house we put up the Christmas tree and decorate on the first weekend in December. We don’t go crazy decorating our house, but spending the day decorating the tree, finding all the ornaments the big kids have made at school and kinder and even one or two I made as a child, is a nice quiet, yet exciting way to begin the season.
A Moment Just for Us
With lots of different family groups wanting to spend time with us over the holidays, sometimes it can feel like we spend Christmas driving from one place to the next, and it can end up feeling rushed and insane. So a few years back we decided we needed to reclaim a little time just for our family… just the six of us.
Our ‘us’ time is Christmas morning – opening presents and eating a special breakfast of pancakes and croissants with loads of freshly picked berries. Even though we may not have a lot of time to linger over breakfast, making sure there is this little bit of breathing space to just be a family, among all the Christmas chaos has been so important and worthwhile.
Do you have special family traditions?
How do you ‘give back’ with your kids?
Please leave a comment and share your ideas, and suggestions so we can all take the ‘arrgghhh!’ out of Christmas!