|We did it! We made gingerbread cookies!|
The holidays have come and gone again. Our decorations are still up, but the parties and gift-opening and cookie-making are over. Now that I have children old enough to remember their Christmases, I am trying to make them more memorable, more filled with meaningful traditions. Here are some traditions we enjoyed doing this year, as well as some traditions I aspire to doing in the years to come:
Fabric Gift Bags
This is the second year we used reusable fabric gift bags for all gifts within our immediate family. I am so very pleased with them. We use them for birthdays as well. I'm hoping to repurpose the wrapping paper (what I could salvage!) from gifts given by others to make some homemade cards next year. How do you wrap gifts?
Christmas Book Advent CalendarThis was our first year unwrapping a Christmas children’s book each night to read together to count down to Christmas and we all really enjoyed it. We had a few other advent-type activities, but had trouble remembering to do them each night. My kids fought about taking turns opening the books for the first week, but after they got over that it became something to look forward to each night at bedtime. We kept it eco-friendly with reusable fabric gift bags, ribbons, and numbered tags. How do you count down to your favorite winter holiday?
Christmas TreeWe bought a real (possibly local?) Christmas tree in early December this year so we would be able to enjoy our tree for a long time. We still haven’t taken it down, and it’s true that there are needles littering the floor, but they are from my rambunctious children climbing under the tree and putting on and taking off ornaments innumerable times. We also managed to make a few ornaments for the tree: long paper chains and little cut-out elves (template came from one of the books we read). These will be saved and brought out again next Christmas. Next year I would love to visit an actual Christmas tree farm and make more homemade ornaments – like a popcorn chain! What kind of tree did you have this year?
Paper SnowflakesIt’s true I had to do almost all the work myself, but it was still worth it, and I’m glad I set the precedent. Someone tipped me off that coffee filters work well. We don’t drink coffee but have a lot of coffee filters (left by the in-laws when they packed up and moved to South America). When I run out of coffee filters, maybe I can ask my neighbors if anyone gets the newspaper. Then we could try making this lovely newspaper snowflake garland. What holiday decorations do you enjoy making?
Child-friendly CrechesI have two creches I'm happy to let my children play with. One is felt figures glued onto 2x4 pieces of wood and the other is a beautiful wooden set inherited from my husband's parents. Both are displayed at my children's eye-level in accessible locations so that they can move the pieces around and enjoy them all season long. This was a favorite activity of mine as a child. If you are in the market for a child-friendly creche, I've bookmarked a few on Etsy for you (I can't help myself!).
Watch Holiday ShowsMy son refused to watch the Charlie Brown Christmas DVD this year (he said he didn’t like that they stole ornaments from Snoopy’s house to decorate the tree!), but we did watch the Grinch and a realistic version of the Nativity several times. We also tried to find Rudolph and other shows from my childhood on Netflix and ended up seeing some really weird stuff from the 50s with highly stereotypical depictions of children from around the world. My kids weren’t pleased when I abruptly shut that off. Fail! What are your favorite holiday movies?
Gingerbread MenOver two years ago a friend of mine made gingerbread cookies with all of our kids while we were at her home. And since then I often look guiltily at the Christmas-themed cookie cutters my SIL gave me years ago, thinking about how my children would love to use them. This year we actually did it! Ideally, we would have made gingerbread men the day after we opened and read The Gingerbread Man as part of our advent celebration. Unfortunately, I finally got around to making them with my kids on Christmas Eve, which meant I picked a recipe not based on the reputation of the source, but based on the fact that it only used ingredients I had on hand and did not need to be chilled overnight (no time for that!). I ended up using the recipe on the back of the children’s book. They were a little on the less-sweet side (I used blackstrap molasses – maybe not the best choice), and didn’t get any frosting, but my kids were still thrilled to make them and deliver them to neighbors. My 3yo and I were the only ones who ate them, but my 5yo and 3yo sure had a wonderful time having their gingerbread men chase each other all over the house. Do you have a fabulous gingerbread cookie recipe? Please share in the comments!
Sing Christmas CarolsWe did this a lot, but I wish we had done it even more. It is challenging for me to play the piano right now because my one-year-old thinks that she should be on my lap playing herself whenever I sit down to play. We did play and dance to a lot of Christmas CDs this year. But nothing beats making music yourself with family and friends. What is your favorite holiday song?
Next YearThere were still plenty of things we didn’t get to. I would love to help my children make cards and gifts for family, friends and helpers (teachers, etc.) next year. We only mustered a card for my kindergartener’s teacher this year. I know you Boothers must have a million ideas for homemade gifts that can be made by young children (probably whole boards of them on Pinterest). Do tell! Maybe if I select the gift now, and get the materials together by October, we’ll have a shot at this one in 2013.
We did exactly nothing for New Year’s this year. In our defense, some of us were under the weather. I found out that my sister (who has elementary-aged children) does a fake countdown a few hours early and then has a dance party with her family. I’m hoping to do this next year! I haven’t discussed resolutions/ goals/ wishes for the new year with my kids, because, honestly, I have mixed feelings about that process myself. Do you have a favorite New Year’s tradition? Especially one that works with little (under 5) ones?
Eco-novice wishes you a wonderful 2013!