The holidays are often stressful – so many gifts to buy, cards to address, parties to give and attend. Sometimes it can be hard to enjoy the best parts of the seasons – your family and friends – because of all the “stuff” crammed in there. This year, instead of lining up to buy a toy that will be forgotten by next Christmas, why not try to create memories that will last for a lifetime instead?
We asked around and here are a few ways to create meaningful traditions for your family this holiday season – without spending a ton of money.
- Fill your Christmas tree with homemade decorations. You can start simple by stringing popcorn or cranberries. But there is a world of baked homemade play doh ornaments that can be painted and coated with glitter to tracing your Christmas cookie cutters onto cardstock and colouring them as a family. One family we spoke to goes for a long hike to find pinecones and then uses everything from pompoms to pipe cleaners to see who can create the best animals to hang from the tree. You can be as elaborate or as simple as your family needs but it makes your tree decorations personal.
- Bake cookies for your neighbours or a retirement home nearby. Bundle them up and ask your kids to make the tags with your name and phone number or email address along with holidays greetings. Then bundle up and visit your neighbours to drop them off.
- Go through your home and put together a few boxes of toys or clothing to give to the Salvation Army before any new items arrive on Christmas morning.
- Have a Christmas baking party. Invite your best friend over and kick everyone else out of the house, turn on the music you love best and bake your way through your Christmas dainties together, dividing everything equally at the end of the day. You’ll have a great day together, laughing and working and you walk away with most of your Christmas baking done.
- Make homemade gifts. It’s not just for the knitters or sewers or woodworkers among us. One idea is a Gratitude Jar or Memory Jar. Decorate a jar with ribbon or fabric and fill it with slips of paper recording all of the things you love about that person or your favourite memorise together.
- Instead of buying gifts for the adults in your life this year, take the money you’ve budgeted for it and buy gifts for those in need. Whether you want to stay local by purchasing a supper or Christmas gifts for a family in need or purchase items for children worldwide such as through an organization like World Vision Canada, purchasing items like needed vaccines or mosquito nets, goats or seeds.
- While on that topic of giving back, gather your family and friends to serve at a Christmas dinner for those in need, teaching your family the importance of giving back to the community.
- Go to community events as a family. Whether it’s one of the local churches offering a night of Christmas carols or a local concert or even the big Christmas tree lighting that most towns offer, make time to go as a family or a group every year.
- But try to cut your schedule down as much as possible. Instead of saying yes to every invitation, make space in your calendar for evenings and weekends at home together for walks, skating, gift planning, crafting and time outside. The best Christmas memories are borne of ritual and togetherness, no matter how small or simple.
What are some of the ways that your family makes the holidays meaningful?