It’s that festive time of year again! Everyone is hustling to finish their Christmas shopping and wrap those special gifts. There are also plenty of holiday parties and Christmas programs to attend. With all the busyness, it is often difficult to complete a full day of school.

I remember scurrying to finish our daily studies in December, especially when my kids were little. It would just add to the already stressful holiday season. Before I knew it, Christmas was over and I was grateful to have a normal routine again. This has always been my favorite time of year; but I had lost that joy because I became caught up in Christmas materialism. At this realization, I decided I would allow myself to relax a little in December (and not worry if every subject was crossed off my daily list). It was my desire to enjoy this season establishing family traditions.

When I look back at my childhood, my fondest memories were the fun traditions my family made together during the holidays. Children find comfort and bonding in these traditions and it generates a special joy around the home. Now my kids are all grown up but they still enjoy having traditions together and really look forward to the holidays. I believe it is because we come together as a family unit, enjoy fun activities together, and most of all look outside ourselves. This time of year is certainly full of joy and giving.

Creating your own traditions by taking time to enjoy the holidays and thinking about others will produce lasting memories. I would like to share some ideas as well as some of our favorite traditions my family began years ago:

Creating your own traditions by taking time to enjoy the holidays and thinking about others will produce lasting memories. I would like to share some ideas as well as some of our favorite traditions my family began years ago:

Take time for a unit study.

While taking a short break from your traditional studies, this might be a perfect time to explore a festive unit study your whole family will appreciate.

Christmas caroling.

This has continually been a favorite. Even though we are not a “voice blessed” family, we had a wonderful time surprising a few elderly people around town and delivering some holiday cheer.

Have a craft day.

We would make a wreath for the grandparents, homemade ornaments for aunts and uncles, or make our own Christmas cards to send to loved ones.

Begin an Advent Calendar.

Counting down to Christmas is always fun with an Advent Calendar. Learn the history of Advent as your children choose a special calendar or get creative by making your own.

Read wholesome Christmas stories together.

We have Christmas books on the shelf that only come out during this special time. These are stories about giving to others and receiving miracles as well as other delightful holiday books. We read the same stories every year; and even though my children are grown, they still pull them off the shelf to enjoy.

Set aside a night to decorate the tree together.

This includes a special meal, Christmas music and dancing. My kids bring out their special ornaments they have collected over the years. We have always had an artificial tree; however, it would be fun to visit a tree farm and pick out a real tree. Maybe this year?

Complete a puzzle together.

As my kids grew older, we began setting up a table with a 1,000-piece Christmas puzzle to assemble. Beware, this can be addicting! We have been known to stay up until 2 A.M. watching Christmas movies while we finish the puzzle!

Invite someone over to share your Christmas meal.

We regularly try to extend an invitation to someone that does not have a certain place to go on Christmas day. This makes the day extra special when you can share it with someone that would otherwise have a lonely meal.

Visit nursing homes.

My children loved coloring pictures, making blankets, or other homemade gifts for the residents. They would also play Christmas songs on the piano. This was always a treat for the elderly that could not otherwise go out and enjoy the festivities. My oldest son has enjoyed this so much; even as a college student, he is setting up a talent night at one of the local nursing homes in his area.

Make cookies and have a cookie exchange.

What is a holiday without those favorite Christmas cookie recipes? My homeschool group enjoyed having a cookie exchange and sharing recipes every year.

See the Nutcracker Ballet.

There is usually a homeschool group discount day for a holiday event such as this, making it very reasonable to treat your children to a wonderful ballet classic. This would also be a great idea for a short unit study.

Have a thankful toast.

On Christmas Eve, we bring out the sparkling grape juice and toast to everything we are thankful for in the past year. This is a great reflection of all the positive moments each of us have had throughout the year.

Remember the reason we celebrate Christmas.

Lastly, but most importantly, during all of the altruistic activities we do during this season, it is essential to remember the real reason we celebrate this holiday. The birth of Jesus Christ our Savior is certainly a joyous occasion! Some ideas to remember this reason include making a birthday cake for Jesus, attending Christmas Eve service and reading the Christmas story from the book of Luke. Taking time to reflect on Jesus, as well as fulfilling needs in others keep our focus on what is important amidst all the busyness.
Now that my children are grown, we don’t have the time to continue all of these traditions. It is just special to be together and cherish the time we have with each other during the holidays. My hope is that these traditions we started years ago will instill the value of family in my children and the honor of giving with the attitude, “it truly is more of a blessing to give than to receive”. Whatever traditions your family begins or continues to enjoy this year, I wish you all a joyful holiday season filled with miracles and blessings!