Christmas is a time for friendly family gatherings, great food, and lots of love. But it’s also a time for holiday traditions.
As Christmas draws closer, your friends at nxtgen Closet want to help you make this year's Christmas more memorable. We want to offer you 10 ideas to spark potentially old and new family traditions, helping you create a more rewarding season together with family and friends. Some old, favorite traditions have been around for centuries; while some newer traditions have only been around since the 20th century. We decided to gather together 10 of our favorite classic and modern traditions to share with you.
Bring your family closer this year with our list of activities - or incorporate traditions from your own list. Then enjoy them together year after year as you create lasting memories, improving the lives of others along the journey (something very dear to our hearts!).
Past traditions often times reflect a family’s heart. As adults, you can carry on these age-old customs with your children, enhancing your own cherished memories by adding something new to your kitbag.
#1 Sing Christmas Carols or Go Caroling
Christmas has so many wonderful seasonal songs, but Christmas carols have a specific window of opportunity and you have to play them all before New Years. (Unless you're one of those people - the kind that listens to holiday music year-round.) Enhance the tradition by printing out the lyrics, turning on a playlist, and start singing. (BONUS: Get together with loved ones via Zoom, Skype or webcam and have a sing along…and some laughs…or surprise your neighbors and friends by standing on their porch belting our your favorite Christmas Carols.)
#2 Watch Christmas Movies Together
Christmas is a time for family, but for some families it can also be a time to watch the same old Christmas movies over and over again. Some of these holiday classics are classics because they're just great movies in general, while others have become so popular that they've become part of the holiday experience.
Both types of Christmas movies are great to watch together, and they're even better when you do it with your family. Some might argue that watching a movie on Christmas day might not be the best tradition, but if you want to spend quality time with your family and enjoy something different than opening gifts, then watching Christmas movies is a terrific option for you.
If you need some ideas on movies to watch, this Dove Family Christmas list offer a little something for everyone in the family! (BONUS: The Christmas Chronicles (1 and 2) on Netflix are really fun to watch together.)
#3 Drive Through the Neighborhood to See Christmas Lights
“OOOOhhhh” and “AAAAhhhh” at the neighborhood’s beautifully colored light shows and Christmas scenes while sharing your favorite Christmas childhood memories with one another.
You can make your evening excursion even more memorable and fun, by remembering to grab a thermos of hot chocolate and your favorite Christmas snacks to share and enjoy along the adventure!
#4 Bake Christmas Cookies Together
One of the most classic holiday traditions is baking Christmas cookies. Whether you’re creating a gingerbread man or rolling out a sugar cookie, it’s always fun to make them together with family and friends.
There are so many different variations on this tradition that you can enjoy in your own home. Or, feel free to create new traditions with baked cookies.
Not only will you enjoy the sweet treats you create, you will create life-long memories that come to life every Christmas.
Sam, founder of Ahead of Thyme, offers a Christmas recipe collection featuring classic sugar cookies with royal icing, to gingerbread men, to peanut butter blossoms and buttery shortbread. This list contains ideas and recipes that will certainly become future favorites, creating new traditions created during your family fun time!
#5 Deepen Christmas’ Meaning with an Advent Calendar
Doing History in Public offers “Like many others aspects of modern Christmas practices, the Advent calendar is of German origin. From the early nineteenth century, at the latest, German Protestants began to mark the days of Advent either by burning a candle for the day or, more simply, marking walls or doors with a line of chalk each day. A new practice of hanging a devotional image every day ultimately led to the creation of the first known handmade, wooden, Advent calendar in 1851. Sometime in the early twentieth century (either 1902 or 1908 depending on who you believe) the first printed calendars appeared, followed by Gerhard Lang’s innovation of adding small doors in the 1920s; he is thus often seen as the creator of the modern calendar.”
One aspect of using an advent calendar that makes the tradition so beneficial is the way it focuses on our attention away from what we hope to receive on Christmas toward the reality of why we celebrate Christmas and what makes it so special.
Beginning something new creates its own excitement, but you can generate even more excitement when you combine this with Christmas. Enhancing the lives of others doesn’t really cost you anything except, perhaps, yourself. Choosing to make Christmas about others not only enhances the experience of the season, but will create life-long family memories that generations will fondly discuss and remember.
Here are five ideas to kickstart your creativity.
#6 Enhance the Magic of Santa Claus
Santa Claus is one of the most famous and longstanding Christmas traditions. For many people, Santa Claus is an important part of their childhood memories, and to some he is a constant reminder of the magical Christmas season.
Technology allows us the opportunity to ensure Santa Claus remains an exciting part of the Christmas season. Helping to keep the energy high and the memories alive, these electronic “elves” will assist you in your effort.
§ NORAD Santa Tracker.For more than 60 years, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has been tracking Santa's whereabouts on Christmas Eve using a myriad of data collection tools, ranging from satellites to jet fighters.
§ Santa’s Web Cam. Santa offers a special glimpse into the activity happening at the North Pole that will be sure to soften even the hardest of the Grinch’s heart.
§ Capture the Magic.This app allows you to take a photo, choose a Santa and merge the two. Having a photo of Santa in YOUR house creates proof for even the strongest of naysayers of the jolly old fellow’s existence.
§ Portable North Pole. Parents can send children personalized videos direct from the North Pole. Video messages are free, but for an additional fee parents can buy their child more detailed personalization, views of Santa's village and news of whether they are on the naughty or nice list this year.
§ Santa Live. Parents can schedule a time for this special young one to chat with Santa to make the season memorable.
#7 Enhance the Lives of Others
What better way to celebrate Christmas than to do a Random Act of Kindness (RAK)?
It's easy to make someone else's holiday brighter this season by doing something kind for them. Whether it's giving an elderly neighbor a ride, helping your family find the perfect gift, or donating blood to someone in need, you'll be making people smile.
Here are a few ideas families can share a Random Act of Kindness for Christmas together:
§ Leave a holiday present anonymously on your neighbors doorstep.
§ Drop off your Christmas gifts at the local Salvation Army before leaving town for the holidays.
§ Help someone decorate their tree this year and watch them open up their gifts on Christmas Eve.
§ Send a thank you letter with suggestions for how they could improve their life, such as starting an exercise routine or going back to school.
§ Share some of those baked homemade cookies and leave them out for all to enjoy (see above).
§ Visit an assisted living facility to spread a little cheer with your Christmas Caroling venture (see above).
While this tradition is the centerpiece of all that we are here at nxtgen Closet, it also teaches children the importance of placing others ahead of themselves as they give of themselves during the Christmas season.
#8 Work a Christmas Puzzle Together
For years, members of our family have chosen the Christmas break from school to work a Christmas puzzle together. Near Thanksgiving the hunt begins for the “right” puzzle to work together. Then, shortly after school break begins, the dining room table is cleared, the box is open, and the work begins.
Creating memories is about being together, talking, and sharing in each others’ lives. Putting a Christmas puzzle together not only makes all this possible, but deepens the relationship and bond in such a way that a positive memory is only a byproduct of something much larger - the love generated by pouring into one another as you laugh, talk, stress, search, and enjoy your finished work of art together.
#9 Bake Jesus a Birthday Cake
Teach your children the reason for the season when you bake a birthday cake for Jesus as one of your family’s Christmas traditions.
You can bring the cake out on Christmas and talk with your children about the Christmas story and what it means for their lives while you celebrate.
#10 Create a Family Adventure to Have Fun Together
A recent tradition for our home has been the added “Gnome on the Roam.” We have a Christmas gnome which each member of the family takes turns hiding throughout the house and the rest of us then go searching for Jerome. Outside the cost of the gnome, this idea is absolutely free and has created an abundance of laughter and family fun while searching for our “gnome of the roam. Perhaps you would like to engage an “Elf on the Shelf.” Well, the folks at Good Housekeeping have a gift for you to help you get started. Or, maybe you have another idea of a fun family activity to create.
The whole point of this “fun” activity is to bring about laughter, unity, and memories for the entire family, regardless of age.
BONUS: Send Christmas Cards
Take the time, as a family, to select Christmas Cards, insert a short, hand-written note, and mail those cards to a select few folks who could use a little Christmas Cheer. Just think of the smiles that will emerge as the recipients enjoy knowing you thought enough of that individual to send them warm Christmas wishes. Such an easy way to brighten up someone’s life!
Tradition Becoming Life Inspiration
These traditions are more than simply ideas or discussion starters for us here at nxtgen Closet. You see each one is designed, in a small way, to reflect a heart that focuses on improving the life of others - something very dear to us and the foundation of our operation.
The clothing we offer in our Closet provides: customers with quality and value; the selection of a non-profit (human trafficking victims, reforestation, foster children) to receive 10% of the purchase amount (which nxtgen Closet then matches); non-profit enhancing the lives of others they serve; a better tomorrow for generations.