In our recent holiday roundup, I spoke about the newness of my young family and trying to find the right mix of age-appropriate events and traditions for my little ones. We’ve tried the holiday train, mall pictures with Santa, carriage rides in the city and more. Some we’ve liked and others we’ve said we would pass on for the future.
Perhaps you’re struggling with finding some traditions for your own family? Here are 10 ideas to consider.
Countdown to Christmas with Advent calendars
Creating a countdown to Christmas is a fun way to build the excitement and learn your numbers! You can start every morning by moving the marker one day closer to the big day! I’m particularly fond of Advent calendars because they bribe you with a hunk of chocolate every day. I call that a #winwin!
Celebrate St. Nicholas Day
Not many people know about this day, but it was a favorite of mine growing up. I remember lining my shoes up in the hallway of my school waiting for St. Nick to come by and fill my (stinky) shoes with gold coins, tangerines and other small trinkets. Have your kids wake up to goodies in their shoes on Dec. 6 to start off their day right. Read more about this tradition and how you can celebrate.
Write a letter to Santa
There are some really cute templates out there if you’re feeling like you need some inspiration. Otherwise, let loose and let your kids write down their holiday wishes with their own designs. Don’t forget to mail them off to Jolly Saint Nick by Dec. 15.
Bake Christmas cookies together
This tradition stirs up particularly fond memories for myself; my mom would be swatting me with a wooden spoon telling me to stop licking the batter or stealing the warm cookies fresh out of the oven. Did I learn about how to make our great-grandmother’s traditional kolackies? Sure, kinda? But, they were fun memories, nonetheless. Maybe your family doesn’t have a traditional cookie recipe that you make year after year? No problem, that’s what Pinterest is for! Try a new one that the whole family approves of.
Start an ornament collection
Whether it’s Waterford or one that your kid came home from school with, ornaments that represent your child that current year is a nice memory to cherish for years to come. Christkindlmarket is also known for their hand-blown glass ornaments which is part of the charm of visiting the market.
Have an ice skate and hot chocolate date
Toepick! Does anyone remember that movie? Well, if you do, chances are you know it was about ice skating. My favorite ice rink is at MB Financial Park. Skate in the park for $8 or bring your own pair of skates and skate for free! They also have a Sunday Funday Characters on Ice event with a rotating schedule of guests, including Olaf and Anna, and the Beast and Belle. Be sure to check out their calendar of events for details on characters and times. When you can’t feel your feet anymore, head over to Sugar Factory for a Red Velvet Hot Chocolate to warm up. Yummy!
Buy Christmas jammies for the whole family
What’s not to love about matching family PJ’s? In fact, the Holderness family capitalized on it by making it a Christmas anthem a few years ago. You can snag your digs at Hanna Andersson or Target. Just don’t forget to take a selfie, or it didn’t happen!
Volunteer or sponsor a family
It’s the season of giving and people can lose sight of what that actually means. Sure, it’s nice to get your hands on the toy of the season, but some children don’t have a lot of toys, books or other necessities. Donate food, sponsor a family or volunteer this season at one of the many local charities of your choice. Giving back not only feels good, but teaches your young ones the importance of this kind gesture as well.
Go holiday “light-seeing”
Does your neighborhood have epic holiday light displays? Chicago knows how to light up the night between Zoolights, the Mag Mile and Illumination Tree Lights, and I’ve offered up some awesome suggestions for the Northwest suburbs. There’s nothing quite like seeing the colorful lights dance in front of your child’s face.
Eat breakfast with Santa
One of our favorite traditions with our family is having breakfast with Santa. There multiple Santa sightings in the Chicagoland area from Morton Arboretum, The Glen, Brookfield Zoo and everywhere in between. Check out Chicago Parent for options near you!