9 memorable Christmas traditions for families

9 christmas traditions

It’s that time of year again! Time to create or revisit holiday family traditions. Need some fresh ideas to add to your family’s list of fun customs for Christmas? Here are some memorable suggestions:

Adopt a family. Many families are struggling this time of year, so our family “adopts” a family and provides a Christmas dinner for them. We include a turkey or ham, stuffing (if we provided a turkey), two cans of vegetables, a bag of potatoes, and a dessert. Alternatively, if your house is big enough, why not invite someone who has nowhere to go for Christmas to your house to enjoy Christmas dinner with your family?

Read the real Christmas story. I love the tradition of reading Luke 2:1-20 on Christmas Day and reflecting on the real meaning of Christmas. A baby born who would one day die for the sins of mankind so they could have eternal life. Have each family member take turns reading verses, or have mom or dad read it in its entirety.

nativity scene.jpg

Go Christmas lighting. From the time our two daughters were toddlers, we have changed into pajamas and loaded into our SUV for a trip around our town to check out the Christmas lights. Each year we vote on a home to win the “Christmas Winter Wonderland Prize.”

christmas llights.jpg

Attend Candlelight Eve Service. Christmas wouldn’t be complete without attending the Candlelight Eve Service at our church. Not only do we attend, but we also make it a point to invite neighbors and friends who may not otherwise know about the event.

Host a treasure hunt. Each Christmas Eve, my husband and I write numerous “sticky notes” with clues on them for each of our girls. We then place them strategically around the house. On Christmas Day, the girls race to find clues, and subsequently, one of their Christmas gifts. Treasure hunts are fun, and if you have a zany sense of humor like the Zeller parents, try to rhyme the clues with silly words.

Collect an ornament a year. When we decorate the tree, I love the memories that go with each decoration. From the time I was born, my grandma, Nanie, would give each grandchild a decoration each year for Christmas. That has expanded into decorations for each great-grandchild. Not only does Nanie supply her grands and great-grands with homemade decorations, but we also pick out a special ornament as a family to add to our tree each year.

Give an ornament to each of your children each year the day after Thanksgiving. Better yet? Encourage your children or grandchildren to create a special Christmas decoration for the tree. Homemade ornaments are by far the best!

Christmas decoration 4

Remember Christmas songs of old. Why not make it a tradition to go Christmas caroling? Around the neighborhood, downtown, in businesses (with the owner’s/manager’s permission) or, better yet, nursing homes would love to have their residents cheered with the voices of carolers. Bring along a few generic wrapped gifts to hand out to those residents who might not otherwise receive a gift. Suggestions may include fuzzy socks, a pretty journal, or fragrance-free hand lotion.

Bake and deliver goodies. Our family enjoys the tradition of making Christmas goodies and delivering them to neighbors and those in our community who have blessed us throughout the year.

Christmas cookies.jpg

Partake in a board game. A friend of mine plays board games with his family to determine who chooses/opens the next Christmas gift.

It’s never too late to start a Christmas tradition that can be passed on to further generations. When your children and grandchildren are all grown, they will have fond memories of the traditions you embraced and cherished as a family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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6 fun ways to create memories with your kids

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

Children grow up so fast! Here are some suggestions for ways you can create some memories with your kids that will last a lifetime…

1. Create a scary monster. During a recent camping trip, we stopped during our hike to join together and make silly shadows. There are so many options that this is guaranteed to be a memory-maker!

2. Design a praise journal. Many families have prayer journals where they take turns writing down prayer requests. But what about a praise journal? Every day, there are many for which to be thankful. Using a new notebook, enlist your children to create a cover and include a praise scripture, such as

It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High; —Psalm 92:1

or

Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wondrous works! —Psalm 105:1-2

Take turns writing praise reports each evening during devotional time. Your family will soon be amazed at the many blessings God gives us each day.

3. Go Christmas lighting. During one of our favorite Christmas traditions, everyone snuggles into their pajamas, then we head out in the car for a drive around town and a night of enjoying the creativity of those who use Christmas lights to decorate their houses. We then grab a bite to eat – since we’re in our PJs, we go through the drive-thru of course!

4.  Play in the snow.  Nothing says winter like building a snowman!

5.  Start your own Muffin Factory.  Every other month, my daughters and I bake several dozen of a variety of muffins, including poppy seed, blueberry, and pumpkin. This not only is fun, but also educational since I allow the girls to measure each ingredient and assist with the entire project. After the muffins are baked and have cooled, we place them in individual plastic baggies and store them in the freezer. Perfect for any time a healthy snack is needed!

6. Allow kids to get creative in the kitchen. Speaking of baking, just about any time you allow your kids to be creative in the kitchen, it’s a surefire way to create a memory. Not long ago, we mixed up some orange cookie dough. I gave the girls each a ball of dough and allowed them to design a cookie. Below is Doodle’s creative cookie…

Making memories with our kids are so important and such an integral part of joining together as a family.

What are some fond memories you have or are making with your kids?

Day 7 of the Days of Christmas Book Giveaway Celebration with Penny Zeller & Karen Baney

I am super excited because today commenters have a chance to win a copy of Karen Baney’s book A Dream Unfolding and a copy of my book McKenzie – the first book in my Montana Skies Historical Romance Series! Scroll down for the fun question of the day and information on how you can have a chance at winning both books!

A Dream Unfolding 

Here is the blurb about A Dream Unfolding:

The promise of a new life and a chance to start over…
Hannah Anderson had the life she always wanted, married to the man of her dreams. When her husband’s brother gets in trouble with the law, the town turns against them, shattering her perfect life. Now they are left with only one choice–to head west to the Arizona Territory in the hopes of creating a new life. Will the journey be worth the cost?
Will Colter, after burying his father, is forced to leave the ranch he has called home for nearly thirty years. The journey is dangerous, challenging him and his men. Will he find the new life he was hoping for? 
Or, is there a new dream quietly unfolding before their eyes?

And the blurb about McKenzie:

Desperate to save her sister from an abusive husband, socialite McKenzie Worthington responds to a mail-order bride ad in the Montana Territory—where God-fearing rancher Zachary Sawyer prays for a wife to share his life. But when McKenzie arrives with a plan that includes divorce, will Zachary’s persistent kindness and self-sacrifice change her heart?

Today’s fun question is – what is your absolute favorite Christmas song? Leave a comment for a chance to win both books! And don’t forget to go back and leave comments on Days 1-6 for more chances to win. A winner for each day will be chosen at random on December 19. We have only a few more days of the Christmas giveaways left, so be sure to leave a comment! (U.S. residents only, please) Also, confirmed subscribers receive two entries!

And now for some Christmas memories and traditions!

My Christmas Memory by Karen Baney

Karen Baney Ever since I lost my mom, ten years ago now, I have a hard time looking back at holidays.  It seems far easier to stay in the present than to travel back in time to my childhood because I miss her so much.  So, when Penny came up with the idea for this series, I had to work up the nerve to go through some old photo albums.

Boy, am I glad that I did.  I came across this picture from my mom on Christmas Day 1986.  This is the perfect picture to describe a long standing Armstrong gift-giving tradition that Mom instigated.

Don’t worry.  Mom didn’t really get a box of Fruit & Cream Oatmeal for Christmas.  Nope.  Instead, Dad took the lovely string of pearls in the iconic felt jewelry box and wrapped it inside the oatmeal box which then got a layer of wrapping paper.

Our tradition: disguise gifts, double wrap gifts, hide gifts around the house.  Anything was acceptable.  I think one of us girls even got a bra wrapped in a two-cup measuring cup one year.  That was Mom’s idea.  She loved it—two cups having double meaning and all.

Yeah, we were creative (evil) with gift wrapping.  Half the time I think we put more thought and effort into making it a challenge to open gifts than we did on the gift itself.

Just in case you think this tradition died in the 90’s when the last Armstrong graduated high school, think again.  The story of how my brother proposed and gave his future wife the engagement ring involves many boxes, duct tape, and a very patient woman.

The best part?  As our family grows we have even more people to torture with creative (evil) gift wrapping techniques.  The Armstrong Family Tradition lives on.  (Mwahaha!)

Join Karen and 9 other Christian authors as they celebrate the release of her new novel Nickels, with a blow out $0.99 sale for Kindle books.   http://womensliterarycafe.com/content/december-2011-book-launches You can connect with Karen at http://www.karenbaney.com/

My Favorite Christmas Traditions by Penny Zeller

Years ago, my husband and I started three fun traditions with our children that we look forward to each Christmas season, in addition to attending Christmas Eve services at church. Each year…

We go “Lighting.” Everyone snuggles into their pajamas, then we head out in the car for a drive around town and a night of enjoying the creativity of those who use Christmas lights to decorate their houses. We then grab a bite to eat – since we’re in our PJs, we go through the drive-thru of course!

Our second fun tradition is that our girls exchange “Gag Gifts.” These are presents that appear to be normal to the unsuspecting eye (and are wrapped beautifully), but inside contain wacky gifts, such as an empty milk jug for the daughter who loves milk or an old avocado seed for the daughter who detests avocados! We capture these hilarious moments on film and laugh about these gifts for months afterward.

Finally, our third yearly tradition takes place on Christmas night. We watch Christmas movies (The Nativity Story, etc.) and for dinner we eat popcorn, crackers with spray cheese, and other fun junk food items. My husband found some large football-shaped plates from the Dollar Store that we use only on this special night. Our daughters have commented that we are the “coolest” parents because we allow them to have an all-you-can-eat Christmas dinner with nothing nutritious!

But no matter how many traditions the Zeller Family enjoys each year, the most important thing we celebrate as a family is the celebration of Jesus Christ!

Penny loves to hear from her readers at her website at www.pennyzeller.com, here on her blog,  and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pennyzellerbooks.