Of course as a kid I always looked forward to Christmas morning and the excitement of presents from Santa - but it also brought a little bit of sadness that the magic of holidays was nearing an end. My parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles did an amazing job of making sure the holidays were such a magical time for us kids that I want to continue that with my own son.
Coming in from playing outside and having a cup of hot cocoa is a childhood memory every kid should have. And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with the regular cocoa powder and water - why not step it up with hot milk frothed with salted caramel cocoa and topped with a stroopwaffle? Get a little bougie with your cocoa this year.
Build a snowman
Snow came a lot earlier in the winter when I was kid, but if you do have snow around the holidays this year - get outside and build a snowman! or a family of snowmen! You can of course use the usual carrot for the nose and an old scarf around the neck but there are also some pretty cool snowman kits and snow paint to up your game too.
My grandfather and I used to do this every year when I was at their house between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We were both pretty big perfectionists and my grandmother would get us all the paper, ribbons and bows we wanted - it could take us up to half hour to wrap one present - and then she'd judge our gifts on who did the better wrapping job.
Put out milk and cookies for Santa (even if you don't have young kids)
There's just something about this tradition that tugs at my heartstrings. I remember asking my mom to get out the plate and mug from storage when I was in college and she thought I was being ridiculous. I filled the mug with beer and put a piece of leftover pizza on the plate by the tree.
This year, I can't wait to show Jacob the tradition, even though he's a little young to really understand it, it still means the world to me.
Tour the lights
Some towns have a drive through light show like we do here in Connecticut, but even if you don't, just driving around your town looking at everyone's lights is a really fun tradition. Bring a mug of cocoa and some moose munch for the ride.
Decorate gingerbread houses
You can bake them from scratch - and I congratulate you if you have that kind of dedication - or you can buy the premade ones from Target (and it doesn't make you any less of a parent)...
Get dressed up for Christmas dinner
This may sound like quite the task in a year where joggers and waffle knit sweatshirts have BOOMED in sales... but I promise you it'll be nice to mark the occassion with some kind of effort. Whether it's just jeans and a nice top with some festive earrings, seeing everyone in something other than stained PJ's for the first time in 9 months will really set the tone for a nice meal.
Write letters to Santa
According to USPS, Santa's workshop address is 123 Elf Road, North Pole, 88888 (This is the address that accepts the letters and will not return to sender).
Fill your house with holiday scents
If you get a natural Christmas tree, then you already have the scent of pine filling your house. But for those who want a little more, try candles, diffusers or potpourri to get the holiday spirit in the air.
Put twinkle lights and little trees in kids rooms
There's no reason to keep decor to the living room and front porch. Buy a little tree and add some twinkle lights for your kids nightstand. Let them use it as a nightlight. If they're old enough, let them pick out their own ornaments.
Let the kids sleep under the tree (except on Christmas Eve!)
We did this all the time when my brother and I were younger. I remember one year, my mom and I picked out a tree that was far too tall for the corner we usually put it in, so my dad had to rearrange all the living room furniture to put the tree in the middle of the room where the ceilings were taller. I think I slept in that room every day for a month.
Make a family recipe
Every family has those recipes that are made every year. My grandma's parker house rolls, my aunt's cheesy potatoes, my other aunt's macaroni salad... find out what your kids love the most and have them try to recreate it or ask for the recipe.
Play holiday music
I don't know about you, but I've been playing holiday music since the day after Halloween, and I'm not sorry. Some of our favorites are the Holly station on XM and an Apple playlist I put together.
*Links in this post are commissionable.