Saturday, December 1, 2007

Fun Family Christmas Traditions

I thought I'd share a few of our favorite family Christmas traditions. Some we set out to do and others just sort of evolved, but either way they've come to be something that we look forward to each year and they have become important parts of our Christmas celebration. Enjoy!

Jingles the Elf

Jingles the elf is one of those that has sort of evolved. When our youngest daughter was 3 yrs old she was having a few not so good days during the month of December and the threat of Santa's watching had no effect on her, so one day I decided to create an elf for her--her own personal elf--named Jingles. I printed out a letter from Jingles to Janelle telling all about himself and how he was there to keep an eye on her and to report back to Santa. I rolled up the message, tied it with a pretty ribbon bow, tucked in a candy cane and hung it on a tree branch and waited for her to find it and not too long afterward she did. She was just astonished that she had her very own elf--who was watching her. Much of that month was spent trying to find Jingles and her behavior greatly improved! Yes I do believe in bribery and sometimes we have to get creative with it!

Well the next year Janelle remembered Jingles and for the last several years he has come to visit her always leaving a note and a small gift. In fact just today he made his delivery of a Santa-odometer door hanger. I found it at the dollar store and knew immediately this was what Jingles was bringing and just a day or so before Janelle and I had been out walking behind the corral area and found some large elk or moose tracks, however she knew they were really reindeer tracks and we came to the conclusion that one of Santa's reindeer (we're positive it was Dancer) had come to drop Jingles off, so he could begin his December duties. At 8 1/2 yrs old she still believes and she has very few if any naughty days anymore! LOL!

You've Been Claused

Another fun tradition that I generally try to do with a friend is You've Been Claused. this is one that is best started in the first week of December. I usually plan to do 5 or 6 gifts-- I like to purchase or find a small gift like a nice ornament or decoration or one year I bought new unused paint cans, painted them up like a snowman, added a stocking hat and filled with ice melt.
What I do is then drive around town to total strangers homes, run the gift up the front door, ring the bell and leave. One time I even gave the gift to a family that was parked next to me at the craft store and they were so surprised and delighted! The idea is for them to keep their gift and then in turn do the same thing for someone else, so it starts a chain of giving. There's even a little poem an online friend wrote for me sometime back that helps to explain it all to the receiver. It goes like this......

You've been "Claused"!
Ho Ho Ho!
Who left this gift?
You may never know!

Oh, what fun it is to give,
May the spirit of giving forever live!
It's your turn now to "Claus" someone.
Don't be a Scrooge,
Join in the fun!

Christmas Pin Giveaway

Another fun one is to make up several Christmas pins. Wear one of the pins when you go to town and whenever anyone compliments you on your pin--take it off and give it to them! Then after you leave them--replace that pin with a new one and wait for the next unsuspecting nice person! Spread some Yuletide Cheer!

The Twelve Days of Christmas!

Many years ago someone did the Twelve Days of Christmas to our family and since then we try to find a family every year to do it to, too. We start on Dec 13th and end on Christmas Eve. Choose someone that you can get to their home easily and everyday. You don't want to miss a day and you don't want to get caught. Plan ahead for 11 small gifts--ornaments, decorations, candles, hot chocolate, home baked cookies, loaf of bread whatever you think of--but make it something fun and useable--no gag gifts. Every day or evening--whatever time works best for you and it can vary time wise--helps in not getting caught!--leave your gift on their doorstep. The first night attach a card explaining that they will be visited for 12 days in a row. Then on the last night--Christmas Eve we leave a nice gift with a card attached to it with our family name. Everyone we've ever done this too has thoroughly enjoyed it and it's a great way to soften up old grumpy neighbors or to get to know new ones--or old ones better and the kids love it and it helps to teach them more about giving.

One last and very important tradition we have is that starting when each child was born we would buy them a new Christmas tree ornament every year and then when they are old enough to move out they have a nice start on their tree, plus they have lots of wonderful memories to go with them.

Traditions are very important as well as a lot of fun, so I hope you'll all make or find new traditions to adopt and call them your own and begin making lots of special family memories. Merry Christmas!