How to Have Christmas Traditions without Losing Your Christmas Spirit

Two years ago, my family decided to spend an evening looking at Christmas lights. We were new to the area, so we didn’t know exactly where to go. After driving aimlessly for about an hour, my husband turned down another side street, heading back to the highway. Suddenly, my oldest pipes up, “Dad! It’s a Braums. We should stop and get some ice cream!” Tired of dealing with light hunting, we decided some ice cream would do us all some good. After our treat, we trekked back out for one more try at light gazing, and we stumbled upon the County Light Festival, a huge display of lights with accompanying Christmas music via radio. It was awesome! Last year, we drove straight to the County Light Festival without even bothering hunting for house lights. On our way through the exit, my then five year old said, “Mom, after this we should go look for that Braums again and get some ice cream!” Thus, our accidental holiday detour became a holiday tradition.

I like to make Christmas a magical time for my kids, but it could easily become overwhelming and expensive and a little stressful. A few years ago, I took a tip from one of my friends for a simple advent activity.

2012-12-08 08.46.20

I wrap all of our Christmas movies and books. I come up with a few fun crafts and events we want to attend. Then, I number everything 1 to 25. The kids open a present everyday leading up to Christmas. Over the past few years, I’ve added a book or movie to our collection, but I rarely have to spend much money to come up with 25 things. I like doing this method because I don’t get overburdened with crafts. We aren’t traveling to a new Christmas adventure every day, and we aren’t spending a ton of money (I also take full advantage of the library books, too. I wrap them up along with our own books.)

So, here’s a list of the books we are using this year:

For crafts, I found easy and fun activities from Pinterest (check out my Christmas Board here)

We are watching three holiday movies:

I also added some fun activities to our list, too. We usually call family members to sing “Jingle Bells.” We are going to have a dinner by candlelight one night, and spend an evening looking at Christmas lights (with a stop at Braums, I’m sure, before the night is over). I’m super excited for this year’s tour because this house is in our town.

We will also attend a Merry Tuba Christmas concert. Have you guys ever heard about Tuba Christmas? Volunteer tuba players from a surrounding area get together and rehearse for about an hour, and then they put on a free concert, usually outdoors, playing Christmas music. It’s quirky, fun and, best of all, absolutely free. You can take camping chairs and a thermos of hot chocolate and spend a morning with the family. Check out the website to find a Merry Tuba Christmas near you.

I hope you all enjoy this great holiday season!


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  1. #1 by Johanna Hanson on December 9, 2012 - 7:30 am

    Kelly, what a great list! LOVE the idea of wrapping everything. We didn’t do that this year, but totally keeping it in mind for next. We’re still having a simple, but sweet season. And many of our traditions came about accidentally as well! 🙂

  2. #2 by kellywiggains on December 9, 2012 - 9:59 pm

    Thanks, Johanna! I’m glad you are having a great holiday season.

  3. #3 by SANDY on December 10, 2012 - 11:37 am

    Sounds like a fun time at your house.

  4. #4 by Megan on December 10, 2012 - 2:58 pm

    I loved the story of your accidental tradition (and seriously, anything that includes Braum’s? I’m all in!). Great post!

  5. #5 by Jessica Howard (@quirkybookworm) on December 10, 2012 - 3:52 pm

    Yay, love that we’re doing the same thing!

    We just went and walked around at lights last night… and ended up accidentally walking down a few dark streets, before finding an awesome one with tons of lights. Love accidental discoveries like that!

  6. #6 by kellywiggains on December 10, 2012 - 4:12 pm

    Thanks, Girls. Yes. Braums is a magical place any time of the year.

  7. #7 by Elizabeth on December 10, 2012 - 4:36 pm

    Oh, I’m so glad you wrote this! I had seen your Facebook post about having all of your Advent gifts ready and thought, “how in the world?! That would make me absolutely crazy to have to purchase Advent gifts in November AND Christmas gifts in December! Bah humbug.” Now I understand…and may have to emulate. 🙂

  8. #8 by jaynefranks on December 14, 2012 - 9:32 am

    HI kelly,
    Sounds like you are well in the swing of the Christmas festivites. I love the idea about wrapping up existing toys and books to open each day during the count down to Christmas. My two are teenagers now but this idea, had I known about it then, I’m sure, would have gone down a treat, especially if we had swapped around items between members of a friendly post natal group I was in at the time. I notice you are an advid reader. I will have a free down load, PDF version of my new book available hopefully later on today if you are interested in taking a look. I’m looking for some feed back if thats OK – but there’s no obligation.

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