An Elf on a Shelf–Christmas Traditions
We at Back in the Day are all about creating lasting memories and celebrating the events in the decade we grew up in. So we’d like to take a moment to share a few creative “Christmas Traditions” that we and others have enjoyed over the years.
• Every year we have a “Cookie Day”. We bake 300+ cookies and invite all of our friends and their children to help decorate them. We then donate the cookies to nursing homes in the area.
• We try to make one keepsake ornament (smallish) each year out of salt dough and coloring then hang it on the tree.
• The night before Christmas and the kids go to bed. I write a letter to my boys (age 3 and 18 months) about their year, what they loved and the little people they’re becoming. I’ll give them the books sometime after they turn 18.
Random Acts of Kindness
• We’ve started a tradition with our daughter (2 years). Our first will be her choosing a couple of her own toys (in excellent condition) to give to charity. It’s a nice way to learn about giving and spreading love before Christmas.
• We have a tradition called “Operation Wise Men”. We find three people or charities that we can help in a specific way. Our grade school age children start discussing it in early December and like it that we have to be “sneaky” to keep the gifts anonymous.
• The first night that the tree is decorated and lit, the whole family sleeps around it. Our kids love the magic of falling asleep with the tree lights on!
• I do the twelve days of Christmas – starting on Dec 13th involving a small present (e.g. from the Dollar Store). On the first day it’s one of something, on the second day two of something (like a pair of socks), up to twelve (a dozen jelly beans or Smarties, etc.).
Christmas Eve Traditions
• Every Christmas Eve we park under the flight path at the local airport and watch all the planes coming in and out of the airport and try and figure out which of the lights in the sky must belong to Santa and his reindeer.
• Watch The Polar Express with hot chocolate on Christmas Eve and leave a bell that looks like the one in the movie for each child to find. Then on Christmas morning pretend like you can’t hear the noise, the look on their faces is priceless!
• Christmas Eve we always have a birthday cake for baby Jesus and open the nativity set and put it together. We sing happy birthday to baby Jesus after it is set up. We did this while our kids were young and now again as they’re giving us grandbabies.
• Each year we set out a ‘flight path’ of tea lights in jam jars along the sidewalk up to the house so Santa can find his way (in case they are worried Santa won’t know where they live).
Christmas Day Traditions
• Santa always hides one gift for each child. He leaves a riddle to help the children find it.
• We play a game called the Dice Game with a pile of miscellaneous gifts typically from the Dollar Store. Rules: 7 and 11 = you can open a gift, 5 and 9 = you can steal someone else’s gift, doubles = you must trade a gift. After the last gift is opened, we always go around one more time. Adults and kids both love it.
• A small stocking is hung on Christmas night and the elves leave some leftovers from Santa’s sack. These are usually practical things like a new lunch box, toothbrush, socks, mugs or whatever else they need.
• Each year we act out the Christmas story with make-shift costumes – bath robes, towels, hats, broom handles and a very large box for the nativity gathering, etc. – whatever you want to use, it doesn’t really matter but someone has to be the donkey! One person reads the story from the Bible as everyone else plays their part.