Our Christmas traditions have morphed through the years as our kids grew up. Now, after several years of having only adults at our celebrations, we welcomed three amazing foster children ages 1-4. Our excitement is palpable! To make this the best year possible for them, we’re bringing back some of our earliest traditions, while setting aside some cherished ones that would not be a good fit for them.
Advent Books & Nativity Sets
Introducing our little ones to the Christmas story is our highest priority this year. So we found 25 different picture books that retell the nativity story and wrapped them up as gifts. Every evening one of the children opens up that night’s book, unwraps a character for the nativity set and disperses mini candy canes for each of them.
Christmas Day Shepherds’ Lunch
We’re excited to bring back our “shepherds’ lunch” tradition this year. Starting when we were tiny we would have a family bonfire and eat a shepherd’s lunch by the fire. Of course, everyone imagines themselves as shepherds of an invisible flock and may even walk away with a sliver of empathy for the shepherd crews. Lunch is not limited to traditional shepherds’ fare but often includes pita bread, string cheese, mandarin oranges, and Keebler elf cookies (FYI elves look like shepherds if you can’t read yet). Over the years we had aged out of this tradition but we are thrilled to break it back out this year. We’re adding hot dogs too, since it is a favorite food for some of our little ones.
We have nativity puzzles set aside for Christmas day and are stocking up on candy to attempt an edible nativity. With such young ones in the house we’re holding both of these ideas with an open hand though!
The Wise Men’s New Year’s Party
For our family we found that adding gifts to Christmas day tended to be a huge distraction from the Christmas story in our own hearts. At the same time, we love the generosity and celebration of gifts, so we opted to move that element of the festivities to New Year’s Eve. The celebration begins with a treasure hunt, to honor the magi’s search for the Treasure, Baby Jesus. This year our little guys will be searching for balloons, which will not only contain a clue to the next balloon but also small candies to sustain the hunters as they journey. Our final destination this year will be at Grandma’s, who is mostly housebound but loves being part of the festivities.
What is your family doing to celebrate Christmas this year? Any new traditions or ones you’re setting aside this year?