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11 Christmas Traditions to Experience this Year

Every family has a Christmas tradition. Some have lasted for generations, others begin every year. When we are away from our homeland and our family and friends, even if we’ve found a new community, it is always at the end of the year that we tend to miss them the most.

Traditions are what most remind us of special moments with family, whether it is Grandma’s famous recipe, special prayers around the table, the aunt who always has a new hair color, New Year’s Eve sympathies, those pajamas you get every year, and the mother-in-law or surprise guest who always end up starting a fight.

Do you need any help starting your own traditions after coming to Uncle Sam’s land? We’ve put together a list of the most popular traditions for you to choose from!

How about starting a new tradition today?

1. Make Christmas decorations

We hold nothing against a professional display, or even a decoration made from items purchased at the nearest store, but since we are talking about traditions, the participation of family is essential.

You can get your family together to make DIY ornaments, cut out paper snowflakes, make a wreath or whatever other winter or festive decoration you like. You can find some ideas here and lots more on Pinterest.

One idea is to include some event of the year in the decoration so that each year is marked by a special event or memory. For example, if someone graduated, got married, adopted a dog, or moved to a new house, that milestone can be represented in the decor. For example, a photo of a tree ornament or a custom sock. Use your imagination!

What matters is that the decoration is done together and that the focus is on the interaction and the process, not the quality of the final product.

2. Include the countdown in your routine

Have you ever heard of an Advent calendar? An Advent calendar is a special calendar used to count the days until Christmas. Each day the person who “opens” the day gets a message or a treat.

There are several types, with very broad themes, and you can buy one based on your kids’ favorite activities and watch with glee as they earn a new treat each day. But it can be more fun to make your own.

Try the following: Fill 24 bags, boxes, or drawers with love notes, candy, little toys, or good deed ideas that can be done that day to spread Christmas cheer. You can also store your tree’s special ornaments in a box and add a new ornament to the tree each morning!

3. Present your child (or grandchild) with an ornament each year

Look for different ornaments that represent special moments or inside jokes. It doesn’t have to be big, fancy or expensive, just chosen with special care. When your child or grandchild grows up, he will have a collection of fond memories.

But tradition doesn’t have to be born just for children! Give gifts to those you think will like the idea! It can be from daughter to mother, from husband to wife, from son-in-law to father-in-law and more!

4. See the Christmas lights

Get everyone in the car in their pajamas, with a thermos of hot chocolate, cookies or sugar canes, and take a drive through the neighborhood lights. Turn on your favorite Christmas playlist and make a competition out of the decorations.

Make a ranking (or imaginary contest), with the participation of the whole family, and choose the most beautiful, the most creative, the strangest decoration, and whatever other categories you’d like!

5. Make an annual donation

It’s important that we donate what we’re not using throughout the year, but when winter gets tight, the needs become even more urgent. Create the tradition of an annual cleaning/giving and start collecting clothes, toys and utensils.

Involve your family in the process and ask about charities or causes you want to support, then take a vote. If possible, consider donating your time. Nothing can teach you more about empathy and solidarity than engaging with causes that matter to you.

6. Enjoy a Christmas movie marathon

We’re fans of movie-themed marathons and have even made a list of suggestions for a Halloween marathon, so it’s only fair to remember the most traditional of marathons!

Yes, the Christmas movie tradition may not be that innovative, but if you haven’t started yet, a marathon can make you feel connected from a distance. There are thousands of lists on the internet, just select your criteria and enjoy!

Bonus: Choose a movie to watch every year

If your family already has a favorite movie, perfect. But if you don’t, take a vote and decide on a day for this film to be repeated every year. If tradition takes hold, it could be a meeting day that children will always look forward to, even when they aren’t that much of a child anymore.

7. Elf on the Shelf

Elf on the Shelf is a Christmas tradition in which a “special spy” is sent to his North Pole home to encourage good behavior in the children. The idea is that Santa’s helper comes to keep an eye on the children during the day and returns to the North Pole every night to report whether they were good or bad.

The tradition has only two rules:

  1. Children cannot touch the elf or he will lose his magic.
  2. ​​The elf will not speak or move while the children are awake. He only moves at night when he makes his journey back to the North Pole. After returning home, he takes a new position in the house.

If you need a little help with your imagination, you can find ideas for new positions for your elves here and here.

8. Write a letter to Santa Claus

The tradition of writing a letter to Santa can be a good time to sit down and assess the year you’ve spent with your children. You can talk about the achievements they’ve had, the mischief they regret, and what they look forward to next year.

The US Post Service receives letters from children every year and gives them to Santa to answer. In 2021, the deadline for sending letters has already passed, but there is still plenty of time to think about next year.

Bonus: Adopt a card for Santa Claus

Another option on the USPS website is to adopt a letter from a needy child. You choose a letter and help keep the Christmas magic for a child. Make the selection of the letter with your child and keep him involved in the entire process, which will provide a beautiful lesson in solidarity.

9. Keep the magic in the air

Children are getting smarter and more exposed to information. A good way to keep the magic of Christmas in the air is to give “proof” of Santa Claus passing by.

  • Capture the Magic is an app that lets you take a picture of Santa Claus in your living room by the tree.

Choose your tool and get ready to see their eyes light up!

10. Create cards for hospitalized children.

Sit down with your children to draw cute pictures, think of good messages of encouragement and healing, and send them to the NGO Cards for Hospitalized Kids to distribute (complete guidance can be found here).

11. Wear matching pajamas or an ugly Christmas sweater

Any of these traditions guarantees fun photos and good times. Make a photo shoot every year, taking the opportunity to record the decorations you made yourself and rock your new Christmas look!

Luciana Sá

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