Est. 2011

November 13, 2019

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20 Ideas for a More Intentional Christmas with Children

For our family, we try to make the Christmas season last for as long as possible. This year, for the first time ever, we bought a small, live – to be planted later – cedar tree. It’s about 4′ tall and will go in the kids’ room, and for, it is just decorated with white lights. We like making preparing for Christmas a slow and gradual process, not something we do in one weekend. For us, we find so much more enjoyment if we start early and add layers of winter and Christmas in our home and spread the cheer to those around us.

I try to steer away from “meaningless” activities and crafts with paper and glue and glitter, things that will inevitably be lost or end up in the trash. Rather, I try to approach the holiday season with more intentionality. Decorating with natural items. Thinking of how to serve others. Staying home as much as possible. Making rather than buying most of our gifts.

Our Favorite Ideas for a more Intentional Holiday With Children

  1. Set up Advent Calendar with daily readings/activities. You can read all about our DIY Advent Calendar here, and see what sort of activities we included.
  2. Send Christmas cards to our troops. This is so simple yet so meaningful to those who are sacrificing so much to protect and preserve our country! The girls LOVE writing these letters.
  3. Light the candles (or fire) and read Christmas books together in the living room in front of the tree. I’ll share some of our favorite Christmas books soon.
  4. Make useful gifts for others. Some of our favorites over the years have been beeswax candles, essential oil rollers, herbs de Provence sea salt, and this year the girls are hand sewing lavender sachets!
  5. Welcome candles in windows. My nana always had these in her windows, and as a child, my family adopted this tradition. Now it’s a tradition I’m proud to continue with my children. I think it’s such a simple way to make your home look a little more welcoming during the cold winter months. And they’re not blatantly Christmas, so I like to set these up in November and leave them up through January!
  6. Make stovetop potpourri. Here’s a recipe I use.
  7. Bake Christmas cookies. Our two favorite recipes are these cut out cookies and these Russian drop cookies.
  8. Visit a nursing home; deliver cookies, sing carols, read a Christmas book. This is such a simple act that makes an incredible difference in the lives of those in nursing homes. It’s simple to do: just call up a local nursing home and ask for the activities director. They’re always excited to have visitors/carolers/readers and will let you know when to come and what to expect.
  9. Cut down & decorate tree the day after Thanksgiving. Our favorite farm is Snickers Gap Tree Farm. We’ve been cutting down our tree from this family owned farm since Zoe was a baby.
  10. Make dried orange slice garlands. It takes a bit for the oranges to dry out completely, so you’ll wan to plan ahead. But these are a gorgeous decoration, and I love using them for several years. The pulp turns dark red and when the Christmas lights shine through they’re glorious.
  11. Make popcorn garlands. These are simple, and fun to make while someone’s reading aloud.
  12. Put a real tree in the kids’ room. We’re doing this for the first time ever this year, and we’ll be planting the tree come Spring. They’re so incredibly excited.
  13. Stamp/paint wrapping paper. If you use white or brown kraft paper, you can use it as fire starter when you’re done. My favorite version of this wrapping paper was Zoe’s black Christmas trees on white paper.
  14. Make a new ornament for your tree, or for gifts. We’ve done egg carton ornaments (inspired by ornaments my grandparents made in the late 50s), pinecone ornaments, clay ornaments, and so many more. I’m hoping to share the DIY for these adorable wire ornaments we made last year.
  15. Grab a bunch of friends, bundle up, and go caroling in your town. There’s nothing more Christmasy (or dreamily old fashioned) than walking up Main Street, singing about Christs’ birth, knocking on doors, families gathered at the front door donning socks and Christmas pjs, beaming at the group of carolers.
  16. Wait for first BIG snow. This is something we do all fall/early winter, eagerly anticipating its arrival. When it arrives, we spend the entire day outside. We just discovered a new hill near our home, and we’re excited to sled down for the first time this winter!
  17. Make maple candy like Laura & Mary. “Grandma stood by the brass kettle and with a big wooden spoon she poured hot syrup on each plate of snow.  It cooled into a soft candy, and as fast as it cooled they ate it.”
  18. Decorate gingerbread houses. Make homemade icing and don’t go crazy with the candy. I love incorporating ingredients like pretzel sticks and coconut flakes and shaved chocolate.
  19. Don cozy pajamas, load into the car, and drive around town to look at Christmas lights. When I was young, there was a family in town who’d light a star high in the mountain near their house, and every year we’d pack into the car and drive up the mountain in search of the star. It was magical and I so cherish those cozy car memories. Our children now love this time, slowly driving through town, in search of our favorite holiday home.
  20. Christmas Eve pajamas. Each year, we gift our children a new set of matching pajamas on Christmas Eve. Our favorites are these red and white striped from Burt’s Bees.

I hope this list helps you as you navigate the holidays with little ones. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year, and I love filling it with meaningful, intentional moments. Happiest of Christmases to you!

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