31 Days of December: Ideas to Make Each Day Special
Just a few ideas of special ways to make December special and memorable...
Early in the month:
1. Create an iTunes Playlist of your favorite Christmas Carols and Holiday Music and then share a CD of the favorites with family or friends.
2. Attend the local Christmas Tree Lighting or Christmas parade.
3. Participate in an Angel Tree by giving gifts for a child in need. We not only love this tradition but also really enjoyed helping wrap presents for the local Angel Tree as a family last year.
4. Go Christmas shopping for the family with the grandparents at the Dollar Store. Our kids treasured this special shopping trip with Gram and Poppy that also includes a lunch date. The kids are given a dollar for each family recipient and then set about shopping for the perfect dollar store gift for each person. This has turned into a great tradition and as the kids get older, the gifts bring on great creativity and often times, fits of laughter.
5. Head to the hills to a favorite tree farm and hunt for then cut down your own tree. We pack up our hot cocoa and some special holiday goodies, snow picnic-style. One year we decked out the kids in all their winter coats, hats, gloves, snow boots and when we arrived up the mountain, the sun was shining and the kids melted from the heat.
6. Conduct good deeds to accumulate straw for the manger. My favorite tradition is one my mom started when we were little. We use a Nativity set and we leave baby Jesus put away until Christmas morning. All month, we encourage good deeds by all the family members. For each good deed, another piece of straw is added to the manger. The whole family is working together to make the manger cozy with added straw for each good deed. On Christmas morning, Jesus is put into the manger overflowing with straw.
7. Light Up Your Community with 50 Ideas to Light Up Your Community with Kindness to include sidewalk chalk greetings to treats and posters of gratitude to paying for someone’s Starbucks. Have a playdate to work on working on ways that you can spread cheer.
8. Read The 13 Day of Christmas or Christmas Jars by Jason F. Wright as a family. We are currently reading the Christmas Jars and are feeling inspired to start our own jars for next year.
9. Dress up for a fancy, candlelight Christmas dinner one night (it’s okay if it’s mac and cheese…just do it). This could be a good refresher to practice manners. My kids are still trying to catch each other making "frog eyes" while drinking...a lesson from a previous manner meal. Consider having a meal with all appetizers such as these Best Christmast Appetizer Recipes for our favorite Christmas Crack: Cheesy Garlic Bread Appetizer; Blue Cheese and Hazlenut Bruschetta; Granny's Vermouth Cocktail Sausages; Olive Cheese Balls or the Best Spinach Dip Ever (it doesn't have mayo)!
10. Make a Christmas Ornament Journal to tell the history behind each ornament. Take a photo of the ornament as it is added to the collection each year and fill out a litle index card on why it was purchased, who purchased it or was gifted the ornament and the significance.
11. Make or find an ornament each year that represents their activity of the year (soccer, basketball, ballet) or a favorite memory of that year (getting braces, a family trip) and write the date on the ornament. One year I hung Miss B's ballet slippers from her first year of ballet on the tree with the date and her name as an ornament.
12. Wrap Christmas books in butcher paper and put in a tote to unwrap and then read every day.
13. Trace the kid’s hands on the Christmas tree skirt and date it to watch the growth over the years. I started out putting their hands in gold fabric paint when they were little. It makes me cry when I pull it out. One family has traced the kids' hands on the back of their tree skirt with a Sharpie pen on the bottom of their tree skirt to keep track of the changes.
14. Draw names to make an "Angel Gift" for the person you drew. The rules are that the supplies cannot cost more than $10 and the gift has to be handmade.
15. Display a photo in a frame for every single Christmas to be on display all month.
16. Put a nail with a ribbon on the tree. Poem: "This is the Christmas Nail. It is to be hung on a sturdy branch, a branch near the trunk, a branch that will hold such a spike without being noticed by well-wishers dropping by to admire one's tinseled tree. The nail is know only to the home that hangs it. Understood only by the heart that knows its significance. It is hung with the thought: The Christmas tree but foreshadows the Christ tree which only He could decorate for us, with nails such as this."
17. Shop for Stocking Stuffers early. Here’s a great list for teenage boys.
18. Host an Ornament Gift Exchange! For many years my mom hosted an Annual Ornament Gift Exchange similar to the goofy White Elephant gift exchange swap. Each participant brought a wrapped ornament and after drawing numbers, the ornament would be unveiled or stolen.
19. Get a family photo taken of all the grandkids for the grandparents.
20. Hide the Christmas Pickle in the tree. As teenagers, my kids still love to hunt for the Christmas Pickle hiding amongst the tree branches.
21. Buy a new Christmas Movie and hide it via a Scavenger Hunt.
22. Have a “favorite things” party with sister-in-laws/friends. Everyone brings a few of their "favorite things" and you have a gift exchange to swap everything from household cleaning supplies and make-up can't-live-withouts to favorite holiday sweets or favorite accessories.
23. Write a love note and put it under the pillow of someone in the family.
24. Do a random act of kindness for someone at school or work.
25. Plant paperwhites.
26. Make Friendship Fruitcake Starter and then share with friends.
27. Spend an evening by the light of the tree. There is something really special about having the house aglow in holiday lights during December. Turn off all the other lights, lighting candles as necessary, and spend an evening doing activities via candlelight and the glow of the tree.
28. Draw a candlelight bubble bath for your kids or yourself.
30. Host a wine and wrapping party. Invite your girlfriends over to wrap presents together.
31. Print Christmas Jokes for lunch bags and calendars.
12 Days Prior to Christmas:
2. Treat a special family or friends to a 12 Days of Christmas surprise. The Dating Divas http://www.thedatingdivas.com/lisa-m/the-12-days-of-christmas/ has a cute 12 Days of Christmas activity that costs less than $30 for gifts to go with all 12 days for a lucky family of your choosing.
3. Host our own SUV Express! After reading Polar Express or watching the movie, have the kids get ready for bed and in their jammies. While making the tuck-in rounds, present a golden ticket and whisk them off to the sounds of Christmas music for an evening adventure. First stop is at a Dariy Queen to get a Blizzard for everyone to enjoy as you make the trek to see holiday lights throughout the town! Our kids love to vote on the "best" display of the year. It would be fun to have some type of award drawn up to share with the owner of what our family has voted the "best display" for the year.
4. For the girls – have sparkling cider and give each other pedicures for a home Spa Night while watching a sappy Hallmark Christmas love story.
For the guys – have a video games, wings and soda night.
5. Visit a Living Nativity.
6. Make a "Reasons why I love you" paper chain. Make Gingerbread Pancakes with Lemon Sauce.
Simmer the scents of Christmas on your stove.
On Christmas Eve:
7. Write what you plan to do in the coming year as a thank you and birthday present for baby Jesus. We store these in a golden star box and open them to read them each year.
8. Attend a candlelight Christmas service.
9. Open an early present on Christmas Eve. Our kids always get to open their new jammies on Christmas Eve. It makes for cute photos on Christmas morning too!
10. Read the Christmas story from Luke on Christmas Eve.
11. Sing a song outside at night to a shining star and remember loved ones who are no longer here to celebrate with us.
12. Prepare an elaborate plate of holiday goodies and savory snacks for Santa to include a special beverage to quench his thirst. Veggies for the reindeer are always a good snack that we often find bits outside the next day as evidence of the reindeer visit.
On Christmas Day:
Serve the traditional Christmas Breakfast: Sausage Rolls, Sausage Egg Casserole, Cinnamon Rolls, Fruit Cocktail, Fuzzy Navels and Sparkling Cider.
Sing Christmas carols around the piano in memory of our Granny.
Give a new Family Game each year to play on Christmas night and a new puzzle the kids can work for the rest of the break from school.
Take turns swinging at a Pinata stuffed with special lottery tickets and holiday candies. My parents started this tradition years ago and we all fight over the See's candy, lottery tickets and the cash!
Host a Post-Christmas Potluck party the week after Christmas when families are winding down and have more free-time to fellowship.
Write thank you notes on the back of photos of the kids with their gifts, either playing with them or posing in the clothes they received. Or Use the Postagram service to send thank you notes with your child wearing or playing with the gift given to them.
Take a photo of everyone in their Santa hats, the goofier, the better.
After Christmas, reuse the leftover wrapping paper to wrap your holiday books for next year's daily unveiling of a holiday book.
Have a picnic by the Christmas Tree with only the Christmas tree lights on in the house.
Hold a Christmas Photo Scavenger Hunt in which the kids and friends have to pose in photos next to traditional Christmas or holiday items.