Making Christmas Last All Day Long: Fun and New Traditions for this Holiday Season
By: Amanda Kimball
We live in a fast-paced world. Our kids are accustomed to getting everything they want right when they want it. Then they move on to the next activity astonishingly quickly. It seems as if they are incapable of taking a minute to slow down and enjoy the moment. Christmas is a great example of this. How many of us wake up at 6:00 am to start the festivities only to conclude at 6:30 am with a mess of wrapping paper and gifts strewn about the house?
There is always one Christmas that stands out as the brightest and most memorable of all my childhood Christmases. It was the year my mother decided to do something different, very different. We still received plenty of gifts, but she didn’t want our present opening to fly by like it usually did, in a short-lived whirlwind of unwrapping and often with a lack of enjoyment and gratitude.
Instead, she did this.
Every gift we received was given an exact time we were allowed to open it. Yep, that’s right! There was a time written on each present. Each time was separated by 30 minutes to 1 hour, and we had to wait until the time written on each present to unwrap it. Now, before you think my mother was a Grinch, I should explain that everything in our stockings was fair game. No time limit was placed on them.
At first, my brother and I were horrified by this idea. We had to wait to open our presents!?!? What was Santa thinking? We could not believe we had to wait, and we definitely complained at first. But after opening the first few gifts, we didn’t mind so much. My brother and I got to work digging under the tree to find all the presents so we could line them up in time order. We didn’t want to miss out on any time for our presents. At this point, we realized we had some designated times that were the same and some that were different. There was even a huge space in between the times to allow us to go visit our family on Christmas Day.
Each time we opened a present, the time gap allowed us time to play with it. We were able to admire the gift we were given and not just pass it over to open something else. As the time grew closer to the next gift in line, we were able to try to guess what it could be. The thrill and anticipation of opening the next gift were amazing, and it made the entire day beyond exciting. When the last present was opened just before bedtime, we found Christmas had lasted all day long. Not many other kids could say they were opening presents until it was time to go to bed.
This is one of my favorite family memories. That Christmas reminds me to count my blessings, enjoy the gifts I receive, and be grateful for what I have.
This Christmas I challenge you to take on a new tradition. It does not have to be as dramatic as what my mother did, but it should include the whole family.
Here are 9 more ideas for new traditions you could start.
- 25 Days of Books. Create a new way of doing an advent calendar. Instead of a small treat or toy, open up a new book or an old favorite. This creates wonderful bonding time for you and your kids as you can then sit and read the books together.
- Family Breakfast Before Presents. This can be a great new tradition to start when your kids get older. Instead of ripping into the presents on Christmas morning, have the whole family join in on making a fun, festive breakfast. Take your time and enjoy the spirit of Christmas.
- Only Stockings are From Santa. Santa only fills the stockings and brings one gift that he places next to the stocking. When the kids wake up before the parents, they are allowed to get into their stocking and the present from Santa. No other gifts can be opened because those gifts are from family and friends. Mom and Dad want to be there when those gifts are opened. This gives Mom and Dad some extra time to sleep. This works well when some food like an orange or Pop-Tarts are in the stockings.
- No Names on the Presents. “Each kid gets their own wrapping paper – none of the gifts are marked, and in order to know which gifts are theirs, they have to find the tiny piece of their wrapping paper in the bottom of their stocking. It’s a little last-minute excitement as they see the gifts but don’t know which belongs to who” (Pinterest, n.d.).
- No Electronics. The only time electronics can be used is to take a picture or video, or to call/video chat with family and friends. Posting to social media and playing games on the phone or tablet can wait. Spend time together as a family, and don’t let the media get in the way. Other possible exceptions could be a family game on a console or a family movie.
- Christmas Movie. After the excitement of opening presents is done and all the phone calls have been made, wind down Christmas with a movie. Pick out a fun movie to watch together, and enjoy each others company. Don’t forget some snacks and popcorn.
- One Present at a Time. Instead of everyone unwrapping all their presents at once and being done quickly, take your time. One person opens a gift, and the others get to watch. Enjoy watching each other open gifts and the excitement they have when they open their presents. Teach your children to recognize the feelings they get when they watch another person opens a gift.
- Santa’s Helper. Santa leaves behind his hat along with the name of the person who is chosen to be Santa’s Helper that year. They are given a big job to do. They are in charge of handing out the presents that are under the tree, and they need to make sure everyone gets their gifts.
- The Night Before Christmas Box. On Christmas Eve, there is one present the kids get to open. This is a box that may be filled with new pajamas, snacks, and/or a Christmas movie or book (The Whoot, n.d.). Share the story of Christmas and the reason for the season.
Make Christmas last all day long, allow your kids to be grateful for what they are given, and above all make happy memories. When we spend time with our family, we are building lasting connections and creating a strong family bond.
We have many children’s books that make great Christmas gifts. Our books are entertaining and educational. They provide many opportunities for you as a parent to connect with and teach your children.
Amanda has just earned her bachelor’s degree in Marriage and Family Studies at Brigham Young University – Idaho. She is a mother to three children and married to a loving husband of 12 years. She loves to take long walks on the beach with her family during the summer and cuddle up for an old classic movie in the winter.
Pinterest. (n.d.). A fun christmas tradition. Retrieved from https://i.pinimg.com/originals/d8/7a/d8/d87ad8ccefb6246d05f0a20c38887bc6.jpg
The Whoot. (n.d.). Night before Christmas box a family tradition. Retrieved from https://thewhoot.com/whoot-news/crafty-corner/night-before-christmas-box