Rethinking Christmas: Traditions

This year we’ll have something we’ve never had before at Christmas: a budget. We’ve set spending and giving guidelines in years past, but never because we had to. This year we cannot spend and give what we want.

So rather than agonizing over what I can’t do, I’ve been spending time recalling our favorite

FREE CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS

ELEANOR ZWEIGLE’S ADVENT STUDY

(as found on Miiko Gibson’s blog, Our Grace Journey)

This study is so fun! Ms. Zweigle uses the inductive study method, providing coloring pages for the children. My friend Mandie suggested instead of just looking for certain words visually, add sounds for children to make every time they hear a certain word. Or actions for the littlest ones. We start every morning with this study during Advent.

coloring-advent-bible-study

JESSE TREE

Turn the kids’ excitement about coming “gifts” into an excitment about God’s “gift,” Jesus. Create “ornament” representation of Jesus’ earthly family tree to help the children see God’s plan of salvation from the foundations of the earth. You can find plenty of free resources, but here’s one I particulary like. It includes the artwork for the youngest ones to color. If you have older ones, you can have them draw their own ornaments. While friends of ours hung their ornaments on a tree, we taped a construction paper stump to our pantry door and a green ribbon up as the branch for our ornaments. I’m a linear thinker, so I needed to see the chronological progression of Jesus’ human bloodline.

jesse-tree

JESUS BIRTHDAY PARTY

Christmas Eve day we bake Jesus a birthday cake and decorate it with whatever goodies we have in the kitchen. We set it aside for Christmas morning. You’ll see why as you read on.

decorating-jesus-birthday-cake

VISITING THE MANGER

After the children go to bed on Christmas Eve, while hubby puts together the toys that need a screwdriver, I line up our slippers by the back door and hide Baby Jesus (a naked plastic baby doll wrapped in an old teatowel) in a toybox full of hay left over from fall.

Christmas morning, the magic of coming down the stairs is turned from finding gifts to finding Baby Jesus. My kids run to the back door, eager to brave the cold to bring in Baby Jesus to warm Him by the fire. After they dress him, we sing Happy Birthday Jesus and eat cake to celebrate. It is our favorite part of Christmas Day!

eating-cake-with-jesus

BUSY HANDS

Growing up, my favorite Christmas gifts were ones I could toy with all day. Art supplies and craft kits kept me quietly busy in a magical way into the cool, dark afternoon. This year I plan to put together craft supplies we already own in little self-contained craft kits. A few pieces of fabric, a pair of scissors, and some fabric glue to make dollhouse furnishings. Cardboard cereal boxes, scissors, wrapping paper and tape to create box-cars or Webkinz homes. Small mittens cut from felt, white embroidery floss, glitter glue, and white hanging ribbon to create a cute winter banner for our dining room.

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7 responses to “Rethinking Christmas: Traditions

  1. It is funny but this is the first year we actually have money for Christmas gifts. We never have before. However, I have learned my lesson in all those years and have no plans for a multitude of gifts–instead we are keeping it simple and the kids are into making gifts for people and selling things they have made for money to buy gifts for others.

    I am heading over to look at the Jesse tree –we had one growing up and I have yet to find one that satisfies that memory . 🙂

  2. Wonderful ideas! We are on a strict budget this year, too. Isn’t everybody? :o)

  3. These are great. I have been thinking a lot about traditions lately.

  4. Last year we bought $3 dice games and wrapped them with a microwave popcorn packet for all of our friends. We wrote on the bags “Game Night Fun!” It was cheaper than baking, for sure.

    Another year we made tortilla soup mix in a jar. We handed them out the first of Dec. and many of our friends LOVED getting an easy dinner to prepare.

    Not sure what cheap gift we’ll give this year. But things are tight here as well. :o)

    Great ideas!

  5. I love your family traditions and wanted to share one of ours. Now, that we reside in Ohio once again, Christmas Eve is spent with Trey’s family in Lima. Last year, we rushed home to Columbus (1 1/2 hour drive) so that Alexander could read the bible to us. My sister was visiting from Atlanta and she and I hid Baby Jesus before going to bed. I taught preschool at a Presbyterian Church in the Atlanta area and each Christmas season we made Baby Jesus for each child from a baby sock (stuffed with stuffing :))and wrapped the sock in blue felt. This will be our 5th Christmas hiding Noah’s Baby Jesus. Christmas Morning the boys search for Baby Jesus and once he’s found we wish him a Happy Birthday and say a prayer. Then, the boys are permitted downstairs to open gifts. We love this tradition and are looking forward to it again in a few weeks.

    And, yes we’re on a stricter budget this year too!!

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!! from the Martins

  6. We are most definitely on a stricter budget this year. I have been studying my kids’ Christmas wish lists carefully, browsing the stores and internet for the best deal possible, and still, in the back of my mind thinking, ” How is it going to work out? ” As you said things have gotten so expensive down to the bare necessities and it is making us think and rethink each and every thing we buy.

    I saw this Advent book on Amazon and thought about ordering it, it seems really great…….
    Jotham’s Journey

    Last year, I let the kids all make handmade gifts for each other instead of buying something (stuffed animals, pillows, etc.) and handmade gifts for the grandparents (using Sculpey clay to make ornaments) This, I find keeps their mind focused on giving rather than receiving. I’m hoping this year will even be better.

    I think the main thing for us is to focus on the real reason for the season, the meaning, the love He had for us, the love we have for one another. So, with me trying to keep them focused on these things and on giving, I hope their receiving end of things will just be the icing on the already sweet cake 😉

  7. Pingback: Rethinking Christmas: Gifts and Cards « As We Walk

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