4. Santa Pajamas
On Christmas Eve, the Weigal children are allowed to open one present—pajamas that they wear to bed that night. “Every year, we get a new set of pajamas in which to wait for Santa. Even though we are grown now, we still get Christmas pajamas!” says Valerie Weigal.
The excitement of something new, mixed with the familiarity of something old, makes this tradition a comfy, cozy keeper. If you want to reduce the total number of gifts flying around your home, so your kids don’t get too tied up in who spent what–following the lead of this mom, who withholds gifts from her kids–you can start a family tradition that everyone gets pajamas and one other small gift.
5. Holiday Pickle Hunt
Jennifer Shaddox’s favorite holiday tradition is scavenging the cucumber that’s tucked into the Christmas tree. Brooke Easton practices the same tradition, but she hides a pickle ornament for her boys to find.
According to folklore, this German tradition was brought to the U.S. by immigrant families that were struggling to maintain old traditions in the new world. Unfortunately, the folklore is just that–lore. According to Tampa Bay magazine, there are several theories for the tradition’s origin, but none can be substantiated.
Regardless of the true story behind the practice, it’s still a fun, quirky way for your family to spend time together.
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6. Ornaments With a Tale to Tell
Kim Hall, who blogs at TooDarnHappy.com, gives story ornaments–either purchased or made–to her daughter that commemorate a special event from the past year. Kim and her daughter also write notes about the memory associated with the ornament to tuck inside the ornament box.
“Over the years, not only have we celebrated births, graduations and engagements, but we have also recognized some off-the-beaten-path events, such as appendectomies, riots in Paris during a college year abroad and a multiple state trip in a Ryder truck,” says Kim. “Every year, when we decorate the tree, we all enjoy opening those ornament boxes and reading the notes that take us on a fun trip down memory lane.”
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7. The Gift of Giving Back
Kara Backlund and her family love to do something charitable every holiday season. “I try to make sure that we do some child-friendly volunteer work, such as baking cookies and delivering to a soup kitchen,” she says. “One time, [my daughter] and my grandma got a bag of apples and went to a nursing home. They gave one to each of the people sitting in their rooms and just said ‘hi’ for a minute. The residents loved seeing a cute little kid, and [my daughter] loved the interaction–she still talks about it four years later.”
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By a similar token, Makasha Dorsey cuts down on holiday consumerism by teaching her sons to give before they get new presents. “Each year during the holiday season my boys are required to clean out their toy boxes to make room for new things,” she says. “The catch is that they have to donate gently used–and sometimes even their favorite items–to charity. I think that having them part with some personal things helps them to understand that giving is necessary to be in a position to receive.”