Let me start off by saying that while Christmas derives it’s name from Christianity, the traditions are really mostly a blend of adaptations of pre-Christian pagan rituals and secular consumeristic activities mostly created by ad agencies. That’s not my personal belief, that’s just history. Because of that it is my personal belief that everyone can celebrate Christmas as it is now, Christian or not (my family, for example is not).
I have been very excited to start new traditions with my new little family, to make the month of December special, to make the holidays (Christmas especially) magical. Here is the Top Ten FUN Christmas Tradition ideas to start with your toddler!
Top 10 Holiday Traditions to start with your toddler
1. Advent Calendar
- Growing up I always had the like $1 grocery store mini chocolate ones but I want to create a special homemade upcycled one. That way you can include not only treats but holiday facts and activities to do daily/nightly. I think THIS is the one I’m going to do. It also seems so much more meaningful to me when it’s hand made.
2. Christmas Movies
- I’ve maintained this tradition since I was little and had to wait for the Christmas specials to come on cable. Now there’s DVDs, Netflix and of course, my favourite: pirating your holiday favourites. There are so many now over the decades (especially including all the made-for TV) you could probably even watch one nightly (although that might be a little excessive- perhaps once or twice a week).
- Christmas Vacation; Home Alone (1&2); Elf; The Family Stone; Four Christmases; The Santa Clause (1,2,3); Scrooged; Charlie Brown Christmas; A Muppet Christmas; The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and now Frozen are our family favorites.
- Whether this is a big tree, little tree, cut out of the ground, artificial or handmade and upcycled it’s a special time when you decorate it. It can also be stressful and isolating if it’s left for one person to do. So play some christmas tunes, pour some glasses of eggnog, nibble on some delicious snacks and put your family tree up together as a family.
- This is a great way to get your child involved in the gift GIVING process for friends and family, it gives them a sense of control and accomplishment and is a creative outlet.
- There is SO MANY great ideas out there: hand and foot print art, creative tree ornaments, mugs etc. Pinterest as I often mention is awesome for ideas obviously. You can easily find something new to do every year.
- Although this was pretty difficult to do my my little one year old, we started this year with “mistletoes” canvases for the grandparents. They LOVED them.
5. Christmas Caroling
- Although I love to sing, let’s just say I never quite developed that skill. Kids LOVE music though, so teaching them your favorite winter or holiday themed songs will be a special treat for them.
- As they get older you could always do something charitable and offer to carol at an elderly residence
- X is in high vocalizing mode so he sings “Aaaaaaah Aaaaah Uuuuunnnh” over all songs and perceived songs (like the phone ringing or the hair dryer lol)
6. Christmas Lights
- You can make going to look at Christmas lights an adventure!
- Find out (google, ask your friends or mommies from playgroup which local neighborhoods go all out
- Bundle your little one(s) in a cozy blanket.
- Stock up on homemade (or your favorite local coffee shop’s) hot cocoa or hot apple cider
- Take a leisurely drive with the family
- I basically picked up my partner from work around 5pm and we took a drive, in Ottawa there is less traffic- especially in the smaller neighbourhoods. If you’re in Ottawa you need to check out Taffy lane in Orleans- AMAZING!
- In my family partners buy for each other, but otherwise the only gifts anyone gets is the kids. I wanted to make something a little special for each individual family so what I’m doing this year is mason jar hot cocoa. You can make something different every year.
- Canadian Tire sells 12 500ml sometimes for as little as $6.99
- Search out the many available recipes online for your favourite
- Make sure to pop into the dollar store for ribbon and labels to include instructions
- While I get the parents who feel icky at the idea of “lying” to their kids, for me there is a tiny window of their lives where kids can truely believe without question that magic exists. It’s so easy for them to feel wonderment and joy all around them. When I was growing up Santa was always a part of that. We didn’t focus so much on the “Santa is watching in case you’re bad” aspect but more in the excitement of this magical jolly old man who travels the world to bring gifts and joy to children all over the world. It’s a beautiful idea.
- You can always visit the mall Santa early on in the season or in off-peak shopping hours
- There is also all kinds of local Santa events: breakfasts with Santa, villages with Santa, etc. Check out your local ones!
- If your children have their dad (or really any wonderful man) in their lives you could also always invest in a Santa costume. My dad borrowed one from a friend for my brothers when they were little and would dress up for them, and this year I was lucky enough to find an XXL one at Party City so X didn’t have to wonder if Santa brings his present- he gave it to him personally 😉
9. Baking for the many gatherings and dinners
- This is one of my favourite activities too. Kids of all ages love to get involved, you get to have some control on how healthy or crazy you want to go with the treats, you can easily make delicious options for your loved ones with restrictive diets too.
10. Christmas Eve Box
- With kids (and sometimes with partners) it can be excruciating for them to have to wait for Christmas morning for presents. I wanted to have a special Christmas Eve Box for all of us to open on Christmas Eve. Here’s what it had inside:
- PJs. This can be especially cute if you take photos with them on Christmas Eve together, much easier to do then Christmas Morning
- An Ornament. My partner and I are growing our collection together and your kids can take all of theirs with them when they move out and get their own tree. I chose one that represents each of us in some way, and as they get older you can let them chose their own. remember to write the year on it so they can remember their favorites. Ornaments that are plastic/ not easily broken is ideal.
- A Book. For the little one(s) a holiday themed one is great that way as they grow you can read a different story nightly the week(s) before Christmas
- A Game. This year as X can’t play games I chose the HILARIOUS Cards Against Humanity to play with our friends over new years as we’re now old/pregnant/can’t be bothered to pay 5x the cover for double the cost of dinner or drinks.
- I totally want to try this Christmas “Loteria” BINGO type game in future years
- A Treat. Special before bed favorite treat given only on the night once a year where sleeping is already made difficult by the excitement. A chocolate bar, smarties, a cupcake, whatever is their favorite treat.