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Family traditions are extremely important to me. I care a lot about them and as I’ve grown older, I care even more as many of my childhood traditions have either faded or changed as the years have passed. I know traditions are something I am now charged with making and maintaining for my own little family, and I want to make the holidays as special for my son as they were for me growing up. And though I’m not above appreciating receiving thoughtful Christmas gifts, I find a great ton of joy and excitement in giving to others and I want to share that joy with my son. So, I propose to you three family traditions you can implement with your own family relatively easily, that all foster a spirit of giving.
1. Go Elfing
Elfing involves choosing a neighbor or friend to make or buy inexpensive but thoughtful gifts for, and doorbell ditching them while leaving the package for their enjoyment. There are cute signs you can download and print out to inform them that they’ve “been elfed!” and these signs explain it is then their turn to “elf” someone else. As an elfer, you leave your recipient the gift, a sign that says “We’ve been elfed!” to put in their window so the same house doesn’t get elfed repeatedly (spread the love!) and a printout that explains the game. You can find multiple variations of the printables on the Making Memories with Your Kids blog. Click here to choose and download your favorite.
2. Recognize Others
A friend of mine has a tradition with her family in which they go to dinner, get Starbucks and pick up a box of See’s candy then go driving around looking at Christmas lights. When they find the house that has the decorations they most enjoyed, they present the candy to the homeowner in recognition of their awesome decorations. My friend (coincidentally also named Natalie) said this year, they knocked on a door and the recipient said she almost didn’t decorate this year, because of all the work involved, and that their award totally made her work worth it! Now, this can of course be made more budget friendly – no need to eat out or go to Starbucks first, and you could certainly give a gift other than See’s candy – but I love the award idea and plan to use it myself this week.
3. Family Baking Day
Growing up, my mom always made fudge, toffee and Christmas cookies and packaged them to give to everyone who helped us in some way – the garbage man, the paper carrier, the mailman, the school bus driver, the propane delivery man – they all received a gift of treats and a card thanking them for all they do. I always thought that this was nice of my mom, but I also thought this was pretty much the norm. In more recent years I’ve had people react somewhat incredulously as I prepare treats for the same folks “you make things for your garbage man?” Most definitely!
I suggest having a family baking day to make the task even more enjoyable. Invite your relatives over (or maybe see if the person with the most spacious kitchen can host!) to bake treats together. Have everyone bring some flour, sugar, butter and a special ingredient (think candy canes, M&Ms, toffee bits, etc…) and be sure to have eggs, milk and leavening ingredients on hand. Decide together which recipes you want to make and work together to make the task a breeze. Turn on some Christmas music, drink cocoa and even teach little ones about fractions as you triple recipes to get the most out of the day. Then, divide all the treats so everyone takes a variety home to enjoy and share with those who make their lives a bit easier throughout the year. My personal favorite treat recipes are Peanut Butter Fudge and Christmas Cracker Candy (aka “Crack”).
What are your favorite holiday traditions? I’d love to hear them!