Start a gift giving tradition
My family has many Holiday gift giving traditions. Some are new for this generation and some have been followed for a very long time. Some are about the gift and some are about the way gifts are exchanged. Some are adopted from others and some are uniquely created. In all cases, these traditions have made the Holiday Season more fun and surprisingly, less stressful. Less stressful since when you have a clearer idea of what to get someone, it is much easier to buy!
Here are some of my family's traditions, make your own or steal ours :)
One of my favorite things growing up was getting the Christmas boxes out of the basement and starting to decorate for the Season. Unpacking all the fun, festive items was always a gasp, sigh and smile as you saw your favorite things and remembered all the fond years. In our house, my mother loves Elves. She has a collection of them, from wooden ones with felt hats and long beards, to fancy, flying ones we hang from the ceiling around the tree. She has been collecting these elves for most of her adult life and has passed it down to me. While I have my own collection, she has started to give me one of hers every year, and since I have now taken over the hosting of Christmas, my family can enjoy seeing them every holiday and we can reminisce about Christmas’s past. Starting a collection of a Christmas themed item can be fun for everyone, and a great way to keep the memories going. Some ideas of collections can be Snowglobes, NutCrackers, specific types of ornaments, Christmas villages, and more!
See these and more at https://www.greatgiftguides.com/holidays
We started a tradition when I was about 10, that each year we would rotate who would get a “pony” for Christmas. This wasn’t an actual pony, but the point was that someone would get a gift that was much more expensive than anything else. It was fair and equitable since it would rotate each year and it was based on what people wanted or needed that year. One year my mom got a VCR (yes, dating us all!), one year my brother got a Sega System, one year I got pearl earrings. It was never revealed who would get the pony that year, it was a surprise and we were all really happy for the person who got it! This was a great tradition since it helped us afford to give one big gift and no one felt left out.
First Christmas Tree
Once you have flown the nest and have a place of your own for the first time, you usually get excited to put up your first Christmas Tree. However, ornaments can be expensive, and while you can buy some red bows, string some popcorn and still make a tree look beautiful and festive, my family would have a tradition to jump start your ornament collection. Everyone would chip in and my mother would put together a large box of ornaments to get you started. They were a wide variety, some old from her collection, some newly bought, some traditional and some funny. It was a ton of fun to have the recipient unwrap them all, and a lot of fun putting it together. Since you weren’t going to get all the ornaments you needed in one year, we would keep this up for the next 2-3 years to make sure the newbie had enough to create a magnificent tree!
See these and more at https://www.greatgiftguides.com/holidays
White Elephant & Secret Santa
As the years passed and our family expanded to nieces, nephews, in-laws and grandkids, we decided it would be more economical (and far easier) to limit the amount of gifts each person had to buy. We started out with Secret Santa whereby each person in the family filled out a form I created that had details of what you would like, sizes, colors, etc, plus a fun section for kids that asked questions such as if they ate their vegetables, did they clean their room, were they nice to their siblings. I also created a section that asked the person if they thought they were naughty or nice, and which size coal lump they wanted :). All forms came back to me at Thanksgiving (usually people were late but we tried!) and then I would randomly distribute them. Each person got two people to buy for and they knew who the other person was, so they could collaborate on getting a bigger priced item or just making sure they didn’t duplicate a gift.
This was a great way to limit the expense of gifts, make sure people got what they wanted, and still have an element of surprise on Christmas morning.
After several years and everyone got older, we switched to White Elephant. It is even more economical and adds a flare of fun and laughter. There are a few ways people go about this, so you can create your own style or tradition but this is what we did….Each person would bring a wrapped gift and after dinner, we would pile all of them in the center of the living room. We would put slips of paper in a bowl for as many people who were participating, and each person would pick a number. (The numbers are folded so they don’t know what they are picking). The number represents your turn to pick a gift. Once a person picked a gift and unwrapped it, they could either choose to keep the gift OR steal and trade their gift from someone else. Limit here was that the gift could not be stolen more than 2x. Lastly, the person who got number one, would be able to also go last and decide whether they wanted to keep the gift they had or take someone else's. What made it fun was the gifts were all over the place, from nice gifts to joke gifts. We put a limit of $50 per gift which helped to keep the costs down and keep a somewhat consistent value.
Cookies and Bread:
Being the host and hostess of Christmas is not only stressful, it is expensive. And while everyone tries to chip in and help, it is still a ton of work. We usually rotate who hosts every year, but we still like to do something special for whomever is the designated person. With that, we started a tradition based on food :)
My Mom is an amazing cook and her cookies are much sought after at Christmas time. She makes a big selection that includes chocolate chip, gingerbread and beautifully decorated sugar cookies. She started a tradition of making a small tin of cookies for each family group but whomever hosted got the BIG tin. We were all jealous of that person, but we also knew that most of the guests were going to eat out of the big tin so it was only fair (as we all hid our small tins to take home :)
My husband is also an amazing cook and everyone’s favorite is his sausage bread. It is fresh baked bread made from pizza dough and stuffed with sausage, peppers, onions, and a ton of cheese. It is DELICIOUS! Since my family tends to also spend the night, these sausage breads are a great way to alleviate the cooking and feeding for the host and everyone looks forward to them! In the past few years, he has starting making 5-6 since not only do people eat them all up, the host will want some left over to save for when everyone goes home :)
Christmas traditions are fun and sentimental. If you don’t have some already or are looking to create some new ones, I highly recommend it. It is so nice to share with family and friends!