6 ways to eliminate stress and build traditions for your family at Christmas time. My problem and how I solved it.

Day 16: The Santa Cap – 6 ways to plan your family Christmas traditions

Ruthie The Santa Cap 6 Comments

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6 ways to eliminate stress and build traditions for your family at Christmas time. My problem and how I solved it.Are you excited for the holidays, or are you dreading them due to nagging thoughts of finances, travel to extended family, or the stress of decorating?

As my family grew I yearned to begin new traditions of our own.

You know the drill – you visit both sides of the family, make your rounds, and become exhausted and cranky in the process.

How to maintain a sense of Christmas wonder amidst all the commitments of the season?

*{NOTE:  This post is written to neither promote nor reprove Santa Clause.  I just needed a Christmas hat.  In fact, Santa isn’t even mentioned.}


1.  Begin the celebration in January


Christmas should be the culmination of a celebration of year round faith. Click To Tweet


-nativity play set

Fisher-Price makes one that my Tiny Tornado uses all year round.  Oriental Trading has one that’s only $9.99 (choking hazard for ages 3 and under).

(Btw – I’m giving you links today with which I have no affiliation.  Just throwing ideas out there.  You’re welcome.)

He’s only two, but he knows who baby Jesus is, and when he sees the whole Christmas tree set-up this year with nativity scene underneath, he will realize it all ties together.


-church attendance

You can pave the way all year to celebrate this very special occasion!  Get the kids involved.  Be consistent with attendance.


-daily devotions

It doesn’t have to be long.  The Beginner’s Bible  from Christian Book Distributors is a good resource.  They even have a Baby Beginner’s Bible.

Read a little story and have a quick prayer with them.

If your kids are older, there are many resources to fit any age group.

Begin planning now for your child’s spiritual growth map for the coming year!


2.  Start your own traditions


Advent begins on the fourth Sunday in November and runs up to Christmas day.  You can google to find many ideas and resources.

Take advantage of this wonderful resource (it’s free) from Focus on the Family – an Advent calendar for 2015 with stories for each day (this one begins December 1).

Seek ways to deepen your family’s relationship with the Lord through Advent.  I’ll not go into this further, because I’ll be writing a guest post with ideas soon which I’ll share later this month!



“We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corn and syrup.”

My kids and I always make many different types of cookies.

It’s a lot of work with littles, but it’s still important to get them in the kitchen and enjoy a family cooking adventure together!


Live nativity

There’s a local church where we live that sponsors one every year.  It’s a drive thru – at the beginning, you’re handed CD about the Christmas story to listen to in your car while by the different scenes.


Christmas lights

Who doesn’t love to do this?  We all pile in the SUV and drive around, listening to Christmas music and all talking at once while dad complains about not wanting to drive around and look at Christmas lights.

It’s tradition.  We’ll keep it that way.

And, we’ll keep dad.


Christmas Tree

“It’s not going in our yard, Russ…it’s going in our living room.”

Get everyone involved.  Yes, the littles will hang everything on the bottom branches.

Don’t freak out  mom – it’s their tree too!  (You can move a few ornaments after they go to bed – not too many, or they’ll notice!)

You don’t live in a Macy’s Department Store showcase.

They will bring ugly little ornaments home that they painted at school with what resembles brown mud.  Hang them up anyway.

You can still have a theme and pretty ornaments.  Just arrange them around the homely ones.

I used to be the perfectionistic mom that wished for uniformity on the tree.  But I learned to stop being a Scrooge and roll with it.

The kids still love digging out all those ugly ornaments.

Enjoy it now, mom.  Someday they won’t be there to “help” you decorate, and you can have your perfectly trimmed tree to enjoy all alone.

Doesn’t that sound exciting?


Christmas music

I have a confession to make.  I am a Christmas music-holic.

We have been listening to Michael Buble and Bing Crosby croon “White Christmas” on Pandora radio since August.

I’ve passed this on to my children.

It’s a sickness.

But it’s a family sickness.

Crank the stereo while you cook dinner.  Enjoy holiday xm radio in the car or get some Christmas CDs.

Everyone needs joy!


Favorite movies

untitled (205)“Merry Christmas, you wonderful old building and loan!”

We have a whole stack. It runs the gamut from Charlie Brown and goes up to Elf.

Do you watch the same ones every year?

It’s comfortable.  Like a well worn shoe.



Package fun little inexpensive things for Christmas morning.

My kids always looked forward to the stockings as much as the presents.

Homemade stockings are great if you knit, crochet, or cross stitch.

I cross stitched my oldest two kid’s stockings when they were 2 and 4.  I’ve been working on the third one for the last 21 years…and the fourth may never actually materialize.

Luckily, grandma put some old quilt pieces together and sewed them up for my two youngest babe’s stockings.


3.  Learn to compromise

It takes a few years to settle in and figure out how to divide holiday time evenly among extended family.

Try not to fight with your mate about whether to visit his family or yours. (Remember, it’s the season for cheer, not drear.)

After we were first married, we began trading off Christmas and Christmas Eve, because our families were only an hour apart (a luxury I know many do not have).


Over time, a traditional pattern emerges that becomes comfortable for your family. Click To Tweet


Be sensitive to extended family, but make sure you have your own special celebration too.

At some point, you will have to make some tough decisions to protect your own, because dragging kids all over creation is not spreading Christmas cheer for anybody.


4.  Seek ways to serve

Many need assistance or even just a word of cheer during the holidays.  Make a plan for your family and get the kids involved in making Christmas a little brighter for those less fortunate.



Bake cookies together and deliver them.  Stay a while to chat.  The gift of time goes a long way for the older generation.

Make homemade cards, construction chains, or Christmas tree ornaments.

Keep it simple – it’ll go a long way.



“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is by singing loud for all to hear.”

Every year we bake a bunch of cookies and traipse over to the neighbors to carol.

Once they hear the (somewhat) melodious strains, they appear at the door with a smile (or a chuckle, depending on our musical aptitude).

It only takes a few minutes to reinforce the neighborhood bond and envelop yourself with a feeling of good cheer in the process.

Do you make time for your neighbors? This is another thing to work toward year round.

Let your light shine!


Operation Christmas child

This is a fantastic program our church gets involved with each year.  You can learn more about it here.

Take your kids shopping to pick out toys and other gifts for your chosen boy or girl.  You can even choose the age group!


5.  Clear out old toys

Let’s face it – they already have too many.

Reserve an entire day, get grandma or a babysitter, and clear out unnecessary toys while the kids are gone.  If toys are still in good condition, save them for another giving project!

Make room now so you don’t feel overwhelmed once you come home back over the river and through the woods.

Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.


6.  Don’t break the bank

Lastly, budget.  Don’t go running your credit cards up, only to end up paying for Christmas the rest of the year!

If you need to cut back, explain to your relatives and friends that you are seeking to be more frugal this year.

-Draw names instead of buying every person a gift.

-Decide to only exchange home made gifts – even if it’s just a simple cookie jar mix!

The important thing is who you’re celebrating, not what you buy.



Do you have a plan of action for Christmas yet?  Why not budget a few minutes each day over the next couple of weeks.  Determine to begin your own traditions.  Teach your children to anticipate this special season all year.  Make compromises with your husband about family visits, and plan whom you will serve during the holidays.

Clear out the toys, and stick to a budget.  The best way to celebrate next season is to plan early.


“You know – deck the halls and all that jazz?”


“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” – Dr. Suess



Day 17: The Biycle Helmet


Comments 6

  1. This grammie is not looking forward to Christmas! Not yet anyways! It is coming faster and faster every year and I am tired. Maybe I will feel differently later, but as of this reading. I don’t want to pull out the Santa hat!

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  2. Hey, CBB Buddy! You make me laugh and laugh! I understand the Christmas music sickness … 😉

    I grew up in a family steeped in Christmas tradition. It’s fun making your own with your own kiddos … there are definitely certain things they anticipate each year.

    I love that you said, “Christmas should be the culmination of a celebration of year round faith.” Amen!!

    Have a great weekend!!

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      CBB buddy! My daughter was just saying today how she loves all our family traditions. It’s comforting to know we’ve built good memories of Christmas’s past!
      Thanks for stopping by today, and for sharing a bit of your Christmas memories with me! 🙂

  3. LOVE this so much Ruthie, “You don’t live in a Macy’s Department Store showcase” LOL We do all these things, and I love every second, the tree with handmade ornaments, the music, I am right there with you x

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      It’s true! I realized this after I had two toddlers in the house (yeah – it took me that long to figure it out). One day after neatly arranging 78403927 stuffed animals on my daughter’s bed. So stupid.
      And YES. Christmas is the BEST. Love it! Thanks for stopping by, girlie! 🙂

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