Christmas Countdown: Traditions for a lifetime of memories

Christmas-tree-traditionsWE ALL COME TOGETHER FOR LOVE

 

December is here and with that the countdown to Christmas has begun.

Christmas traditions are something that many families carry on to make Christmas a special and memorable time for their loved ones.

Mr.CBB and I recently had a brief conversation about Christmas this year and how I will not see most of my family.

He made the comment to me that the older you get the weirder life gets and weird would be an accurate description of my first thoughts about how Christmas will be this year.

As families grow and many want to start having their own Christmas morning with their kids in their own home, things change and this is why Christmas traditions become so important.

Some traditions may not be able to continue forever but can certainly make some memories that can last a lifetime.

Spending time with family and friends and helping those in need is more important to me than any gift my kids and I may receive.

It’s easy to get caught up in the commercialization of the holidays and forget the true meaning of Christmas but that doesn’t mean you have to celebrate like Scrooge.

 

Advent calendars

 

homemade-Advent-calendar

Advent calendars are a common Christmas tradition that have been used for years by families as a special way to countdown the 25 days until Christmas.

A lot of Advent calendars include a chocolate behind each day though that doesn’t have to be the case.

Creating your own advent calendar allows you to place whatever items you choose for each day or even just a note behind each day.

A different reminder everyday of the meaning of Christmas, or a special task to do that day such as make someone smile or ‘fill someone’s bucket’ as my son often says, can add a twist to the traditional advent calendar.

Chocolate Advent calendars can be purchased at the dollar store for $1.00-$2.00, though that’s not a significant chunk of change, making your own or having a reusable calendar allows you to be a little creative and may end up using up less of your Christmas budget each year.

 

Ornaments

 

Buying Christmas ornaments can get expensive especially if you are decorating your first tree and have zero ornaments to start with.

When my sister’s and I were kids my parents had a wooden ornament box for each of us.

Our parents gave us an ornament for Christmas every year and now we each have our own collection and year after year are working on building ones for our own kids.

Decorating our tree every year brings back a lot of memories from Christmas when I was a kid.

There are a lot of cute, affordable ornaments available each year and they make a great stocking stuffer while helping your kids start their own collection that they can take with them when they move out on their own and start their own Christmas traditions.

 

Elf on the shelf

 Elf-on-a-Shelf-wm

The infamous Elf on the Shelf is becoming quite a popular trend for counting down the days until Christmas.

Though the Elf has a reputation of being rather mischievous it can also be a cute tradition that can be used year after year to teach the true meaning of Christmas to your little ones.

A long time friend of mine has allowed me to share a picture of ‘Chippy’, their Elf who sets out tasks for her children and praises them for good deeds well done.

This tradition is not only fun for the kids but is teaching them that Christmas is not just about Santa and unwrapping presents on Christmas morning.

 

Drawing names

 

Before there were grandchildren in our family we always drew names for Christmas gift giving.

With a family of 6 and their respective spouses, buying for everyone would have been a quick way to use up our Christmas budgets.

With 5 young kids in our family now gift giving between my sisters and I has been changed to each of us buying and wrapping an ornament that is then put into a bag and we then each get to pull one out.

We are a rather sarcastic family each with our own sense of humour and some of the ornaments, though still nice, have added some laughter to our family Christmas.

This will be the first year that I have not spent Christmas with my sisters, as sad as this makes me I have some great ornaments on my tree to remind me of all our previous fun-filled family Christmas’s.

 

Buying gifts

 

When planning my list for things to pick up for the kids I stick to buying one thing they want, one thing they need, one thing to read and one thing to play with.

This is a tradition to not overspend and spoil my kids more so than one to make memories but makes creating my shopping list to work away at throughout the year a lot easier.

 

The gift of giving

 

Donating items to Goodwill or the Salvation Army is something that we do quite often in our house. My kids will now say to me, ‘Mom I don’t need this toy anymore, let’s give it to another kid who can use it’.

Hearing my kids say this warms my heart, they are learning to care for others and to give to those in need at such a young age. My son came home with a note from school this year and asked if he could take an angel off the ‘Tree of Angels’ at school.

I couldn’t say no and a couple of days later he came home with an angel for a boy aged 0-12 months and out shopping we went.

We even managed to use a $5.00 off coupon, the cost of the gift wasn’t as important as the thought but saving $5.00 made it fit into our budget a little more.

Canadian coupon site Websaver.ca has offered multiple $5.00-$10.00 off coupons this holiday season for some great toys for kids.

Though I had to sign a permission slip for him to pick an Angel from the tree I look forward to making this a yearly tradition where he knows I will say yes! As my kids grow up the “Tree of Angels” may not always be there but I am hoping the desire to want to help others will always continue.

The warm fuzzy feeling of helping someone in need is such a great feeling.

 

Parades

 

Even though our local Christmas parade fell on the same day as my grandfather’s funeral this year I decided to still make the time to take the kids to the parade.

My kids love parades, and while they are fun and not to mention free, they present a great opportunity for the kids themselves to make a donation to the Foodbank or another charity.

This donation may be a food donation or whatever change I have in my wallet that the kids get to take part in while waiting for Santa Claus to make his way down the road.

While it is nice to receive that new gadget or toy that you have been wanting all year, Christmas for the most part has become too much about gifts and less about sharing the Christmas spirit.

I want my kids to remember our Christmas holidays being about a lot more than just what presents they received rather the traditions and memories that were created.

What are your family’s Christmas traditions?

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Katrina B

Author Bio: Katrina B

Katrina is a regular contributor for Canadian Budget Binder and is as passionate about personal finance as she is gardening. Katrina is a horticulture graduate with over 10 years experience with landscaping and greenhouse production. Her goal is to share her knowledge and experiences blogging about gardening and her continued passion for personal finance in hopes of motivating others. While being a single mom of two and an in-store merchandising representative for major retail shops she also runs her own Landscaping Services in Southwestern Ontario. If you would like to know more about her landscaping services simply email Mr.CBB at canadianbudgetbinder@yahoo.ca

Comments

  1. I loved my advent calendar when I was a kid. I was a kid far before the elf on the shelf phenomenon but I have a hard time wrapping my head around why that’s so thrilling lol.
    Stu @ Poor Student recently posted…Cheap and Semi-Healthy Snacks to Help You Through Your Next Cramming SessionMy Profile

    • Some of the antics the Elve’s get up to are pretty entertaining and it’s fun for the kids to wake up and see what else the Elf got into while they were sleeping.

  2. I love the ornament idea – building a collection for my daughter for when she’s older. Quirky and different ornaments that hold many memories are way better then brand spanking news ones from the shops each year. Also, love the homemade advent calendar – I will be using this idea for next year. :)
    Hayley @ A Disease Called Debt recently posted…It Is Still Possible to Raise a Child in the UK without Spending a FortuneMy Profile

  3. I love hearing about other families’ Christmas traditions.

    Christmas can sometimes be stressful with all of the added expense and extra work, but wouldn’t trade it for anything!

    I have such fond memories of Christmas from my childhood. We had traditions in my family as a child that I wasn’t able to continue with my girls due to the miles that separated us from our extended family, but I created new traditions for my girls and I to enjoy. One of the traditions we had when the girls were young was to participate in assisting with the delivery of Christmas hampers to less fortunate families. That was one of my favorite traditions and helped the girls realize that Christmas is not just all about the gifts that they receive, but that it is very important to give back to our community.

    When my girls were young my mom sent them a homemade Advent calendar, they loved opening their little gift each morning, some were tiny little Christmas ornaments (mittens, stockings etc.) that we still put on the tree. I’ve continued the count down to Christmas tradition with my grandson. Last year I sent 24 wrapped Christmas books and he opened one each night at bedtime beginning on December 1st. This year I sent small wrapped packages, containing things like stickers, socks, Hot Wheels cars, etc., and he opens one each day starting on December 1st and when he opens the last package he’ll get on a plane and make the day-long trip to Nana’s. I also send a Santa picture and he glues a cotton ball on the beard each day.

    I have a nativity set that has become part of another Christmas tradition; when my grandson arrives at our house on the 20th we will add a piece of “hay” (raffia) to the manger each morning to make a soft bed for baby Jesus and on Christmas morning baby Jesus will be placed in the manger. Later in the day when my nieces and nephews arrive I give each of them a part to read from the Biblical Christmas story (child version) and then select their character from the nativity set and add it back in the scene after they’ve read their part.

    On Christmas Eve we go for a drive to look at the Christmas lights. We have someone locally who goes over the top with the light display; they even have a channel on the radio that you tune into to listen to music that they’ve programmed the lights to flash in time with the music. It’s about a 15 minute light show and we always make sure to visit that neighborhood.

    I could go on and on, we have so many little things that we do to make Christmas special, it truly is my favorite time of year.

    Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

    Pam

    • Pam you have some lovely traditions! I think the Santa Claus face and cotton balls may be a new one for us. My first Christmas as a single mom I received a Christmas hamper, it was available for pick up and when I went to pick mine up my eyes welled up instantly, the warehouse was huge and packed full of hampers including clothing, toys and food in each one, it was overwhelming to see how much was donated to help others. I am so grateful to have received one that year and happy that now I am in a position to be able to give back. Merry Christmas Pam!

  4. Christine Weadick says:

    Back when my kids were younger and their grandparents on hubby’s side were still alive we would have Christmas Day with my parents. Either at their place or ours. Mom and I alternated between cooking the big dinner for years. Boxing Day we went to Hubby’s parents place. It worked out as his sister and her family would be there Christmas Day, stay over and go home Boxing Day so we got to see them too before they left. Her hubby’s family celebrated Christmas Eve so everything worked out nicely….
    These days we have the grandson and my Dad is still with us as is his brother. Both live in Stratford so around lunchtime on the big day I go pick up the two older gents and bring them here for the afternoon and dinner. After dinner I package up some leftovers for them to take home and drive them both back. Dad doesn’t like driving after dark and my Uncle doesn’t drive anymore at all.
    When the kids were small I always did the tree during naps or while they were at school. The decorations were kept in a trunk in the playroom. Once the tree was up and decorated I snuck the gifts from the Jolly Old Gent into the trunk and locked it. This made it easier for those gifts to under the tree on the big night. One thing we did is I bought the book The Night Before Christmas and I read it ever year before bed on Christmas Eve. This went on until the kids were well into the teens!!!! I bought Christmas books every year for a long time….
    I tried to get the one thing the kids wanted each year but they didn’t too fussed if something wasn’t under the tree as there were birthdays shortly after Christmas so it could show up for a birthday present and they knew it. I also made gifts every year for them. During school hours, naps and after bed the sewing machine was busy!!!!!

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