Saturday, November 3, 2007

holiday tradition ideas

I read about some new ideas how to celebrate holidays and thought they were fun.

If you’re tired of the same old trip to the mall to see Santa, or the usual Thanksgiving Day routine, try some of these traditions that other LDS Living readers have incorporated into their Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve celebrations. Whether it’s putting a new twist on an old tradition or creating a brand-new family holiday, you’re sure to find some inspiration from these great ideas.


The Gratitude Tree
In the fall, our family goes on walks to find colorful leaves. After collecting several of our favorites, we seal them in clear Con-Tact paper to preserve them. We put up our artificial Christmas tree on November 1 (without decorations), and every day until Thanksgiving each family member chooses a leaf, writes one thing he or she is grateful for, and hangs it on the tree. As the leaves accumulate, it’s easy for our kids to see how many blessings we have in our lives.
Jennifer Barnes, Chicago, Illinois

(If you laminate the leaves they'll be stiffer and more ornament like)

Turkey Bowl
My husband comes from a rather large family, and many of his brothers and sisters live nearby. Every year, on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, the adults gather for a game of flag football—better known as the Turkey Bowl. The losing team has to wash all the Thanksgiving dishes. With about forty people gathering for the feast, the stakes are high and the game is always exciting!

The Larson Family, San Jose, California

Pie Night
Our favorite Thanksgiving tradition is our annual Pie Night.
About five years ago, we started inviting a few families over to enjoy several kinds of pie for dessert on either the Tuesday or Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. Our reasoning was that we really love a lot of different types of pies, and we would always make several for Thanksgiving dessert. Unfortunately, by the time we finished eating dinner, dessert just didn’t sound good anymore!
By having Pie Night a few days before Thanksgiving, we could all really enjoy those delicious desserts! Our tradition has grown each year to include a few more families. This past year we moved to the country with lots of space to spread out, so we had about one hundred people for Pie Night! It was a blast!
The Bambas Family, Moscow, Tennessee

Giving Day
On the Saturday before Thanksgiving, our family participates in what has become know n as “Giving Day.” I gather old clothes and shoes, and our children each fill a box with some of their toys to donate to the local women’s shelter. This is a great way to teach our children to think about others. Plus, you’ll clear some room for next month’s Christmas presents!
Julie Phipps, Boise, Idaho


Goodies for Firefighters
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that not everyone gets to celebrate Christmas Day with their families. Since September 11, 2001, our family has taken Christmas goodies to the firefighters at the local fire station. There are usually only one or two people there, but they are always happy to see us, and we often end up sharing the goodies with them and getting a tour of the station. My boys love it!
Shawn Jensen, Orem, Utah

Jerusalem Dinner
We want our children to think about the birth of the Savior instead of Santa on Christmas Eve, so we have a “Jerusalem Dinner.” We dress in simple biblical costumes (bath robes, towels as head dresses, etc.), play music from The Messiah, and eat simple biblical foods by candlelight—foods such as fish, pita bread, hummus, cheeses, grapes, oranges, and grape juice. Afterwards, we read or re-enact the Nativity story in Luke 2. We look forward to it even more than opening presents on Christmas Day.
Nancy and Wally Goddard

Travel Time
Every year for Christmas we take a trip. Our children are the ones who actually ask for this. They can never remember what gifts they received two years ago, but ask them what we did for Christmas of 2000 and they’ll say we went to San Diego with Grandma and Grandpa and fed the lorikeets at the wild animal park. In 2004, we went to Disneyland with our neighbors and played in the ocean with our pants rolled up. When we average out the cost of the trips, it ends up being about the same as what we would spend on Christmas gifts for our family.
Lisa Orr, Pleasant Grove, Utah

Christmas around the World
Each year, as our four sons were growing up, we explored the Christmas traditions of a different country. Throughout the season we would read about what families in the country did to worship the Savior, who the “magical gift giver” was and what he did, how the families decorated for the season, how they celebrated New Year’s, etc.
We also experimented with recipes from that culture, made decorations to reflect what we had learned (which sometimes meant we didn’t have a Christmas tree), awaited visits from their “magical gift giver,” read stories unique to their country, learned to sing some songs in their language (which sometimes meant finding someone in the community who could teach us), attended other churches for Christmas Eve services, and included others from that country or of that culture in our celebrations.
We wanted to teach our family to respect and appreciate the diversity around us and throughout the world.
Karen Duffy, Auburn, Washington

Sleeping Under the Tree
Our family sleeps in sleeping bags under the Christmas tree on December 23. We’ve been doing it for thirty years now, and it’s great fun. Everyone looks forward to it!
Brian Palmer

Santa’s Workshop
Our family sets aside a day at the beginning of December to transform our playroom into Santa’s workshop. We all sift through the children’s toys and collect the ones that are in good condition but have not been played with in quite some time. We wash them with soap and water and do any minor repairs such as brushing a doll’s hair and putting in a pretty ribbon, or sewing a small tear in a hand puppet. When all the toys are ready to go, we either take them to Good Will or a local homeless shelter. Our kids feel good about sharing their toys with kids who are less fortunate, and we enjoy a little extra storage space—at least until Christmas morning!
Susan Johnson, New York, New York

Sinter Clauss
When my husband Clint and I began having children, we realized the emphasis of Christmas was no longer about Christ, and it was saddening to us. We often pondered on ways to change the focus. Clint had served a mission in Belgium, where he was introduced to the holiday of Sinter Clauss (December 5th). This was our answer! We take that day, no matter where it falls in the week, to head to the hills in search of that perfect tree. Since we’re there anyway, a person with kids, not to mention a husband who is a kid at heart, (okay me too!) can’t help getting some long-desired sledding in.
That night, Santa brings us a stocking full of goodies and three gifts, which represent the gifts from the Three Wise Men. After the gifts are opened, we tell the story of St. Nicholas, who was a good-hearted man that left some of his wealth and blessings in the windows of the less fortunate. I can’t tell you how extra special my kids feel when people who don’t know our tradition exclaim in surprise, “Santa came to your house already?”
On Christmas Day we find opportunities to bless others by caroling, shoveling snow, bringing Christmas breakfast to older neighbors or grandparents, etc. This treasured tradition has blessed our home and strengthened our testimonies.
Jana Griffeth, Preston, Idaho

Personal Ornaments
Every year I buy each child an ornament signifying what they had an interest in for that particular year. One year my son loved playing a card game. For his ornament, he had a card decorated with a string! Once my children marry, the ornaments go with them.
Charlotte Roberts, Hickory Creek, Texas

Christmas Eve Books
When I was a fairly young mother, this quote by Strickland Gillilan struck me deeply:
"You may have tangible wealth untold; Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be— I had a mother who read to me."
I, too, had both a mother and a grandmother who read to me—something I cherished. With that in my heart, I determined that perhaps something I could do that would be more lasting than other trendy gifts at Christmas would be a specially selected book for each member of my family.
I would listen all year and choose a special book that perhaps focused on a hobby, told a story I wanted them to experience, or, many times, a specific book that they hoped for. Once it was chosen, I would sit on Christmas Eve day and write a personal note in the front cover that spoke of my impressions over the past year.
After the other traditions are carried out, the gift-wrapped books would be given and opened one at a time. Each person would then enjoy their title and read their note from me. Through the years, as my children grew, they began surprising me with a book of my own. It has become one of our most bonding and cherished traditions.
M. Steed

Three Gifts
My husband and I decided before we had our children that Christmas would not be all about the presents they are receiving. So we started a tradition with our first child, and it has continued with the next two. We each receive three gifts to represent the three gifts given to Christ from the Wise Men. Not only does it cut down on expenses, but each Christmas morning we can remind our children of the wonderful night of our Savior’s birth.
Alethea Carpenter, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho


Nancy Newyears
Having six daughters, my mom always wanted to get the things we wanted for Christmas. Money was not always there to do this, so she created Nancy Newyears.
We grew up believing Nancy was Santa’s wife. She came on New Year’s Eve with the presents that Santa didn’t bring. As children, we didn’t understand the money factor, so Mom created Nancy to cash in on all the after-Christmas sales! What a smart woman, thinking of a way to make sure her girls had what they wanted or needed at such a reduction in price!
I now have two beautiful daughters. I have Nancy Newyears visit them, and I have brought her into the lives of my friends as well. It’s a fun tradition to see what Santa will bring and what Nancy brings each year. It is being carried on by six sisters who had a mom that cared enough to give us the best she could!
Donnalee (Dobson) Morettin, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Beat the Clock
As a family with young children, staying up until midnight on New Year’s Eve is just not possible. Despite their best efforts, our children would understandably get cranky and tired, and would eventually fall asleep. The next morning, they would become upset once they realized they had missed ringing in the New Year.
A few years ago, my husband and I decided to set the clocks ahead a few hours. We gather all of our alarm clocks and set them to go off at “midnight.” We spend the night playing games, watching movies, and making treats. When the alarms go off, we throw confetti, blow horns, and welcome in the year a few hours early.
Maria Vasquez, Houston, Texas

1 comment:

  1. Kivoja ideoita, varsinkin Nancy Newyears. :-)


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