6 Christmas Traditions For Making Happy Memories

With November just around the corner, the hustle and bustle of the holidays is almost upon us. Before you get swept away in the emotion of it all, consider these 6 Christmas Traditions for inspiring an attitude of gratitude.

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Do We Overdo It At Christmas

As a parent, I love buying gifts for my kids and seeing the joy in their eyes as they open fun little surprises. But, I have to admit, I think we tend to overdo it at times and I wonder if it causes more harm than good.

In 2011, Today Moms and Parenting.com did a survey of 6,000 moms. Over 50% of moms felt their kids were at least a little spoiled and their gift giving could be cut back. Fifty-nine percent of moms felt their kids were more spoiled than they were as a kid.

What Does a Joy-Filled Christmas Really Mean

We all want our kids to have a joy-filled Christmas, but what does that really mean? What values are we teaching them in the process?

On one hand, let kids be kids. Have fun! Give gifts! Don’t over think it! If you want to shower them with presents, do so! They love it and it brings joy to you in seeing their eyes light up!

On the other hand, are you creating a gift gimme monster and a child who thinks they have to have a lot of gifts to be happy? Does over-giving diminish the meaning of the gift, create an expectation to over indulge and inadvertently teach them that they have to have a lot to be happy? At the least, does putting the focus on gift giving take away from the true meaning of Christmas?

Traditions that Create An Attitude of Gratitude

My kids are still very young and I’m mindful that with each passing year we are creating an expectation. Here are 6 Christmas Traditions for creating an attitude of gratitude at Christmas instead of an entitlement mentality.

Place emphasis on the real meaning

Consider the religious/spiritual importance of the season and intentionally participate in activities that reinforce the original intent of the holy-day (holiday) like going to church, lighting an advent wreath at home every week, or visiting a live nativity scene.

Place emphasis on family traditions

Create traditions that underscore the importance of family. Demonstrate this value by involving friends and extended family in activities throughout the season.

Participate in serving and giving activities

Get involved in serving others. Serve a turkey meal to homeless over the holidays. Adopt a family to give Christmas gifts to or participate in ministries like Shoe Box Christmas or Angel Tree.

Take a family vacation and create memories instead

I’ve known some families that forgo Christmas gifts all together and spend the money on a nice vacation over the holidays ultimately opting for creating memories.

Limit the # of gifts

Another approach is to limit the number Christmas gifts. You can set a number that is comfortable for your family, but one way is to give only 4 gifts…something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. This approach makes the focus on quality and cuts out the consumerism junk that may have ended up under the tree.

Christmas Budgeting

If you decide to stay with traditional gift giving you should set a Christmas budget. Determine how much you will spend on each kid. For some Christmas budgeting tips- check out this site: https://www.laurengreutman.com/why-my-kids-get-only-3-gifts-during-christmas/

Values Based Christmas Traditions

At a minimum, consider the values your gift giving underscores…generosity, equality, gratitude, entitlement, more=good, etc. Many times, the values lived out by the parents are the ones the kids pay the most attention to. If you are gracious and thankful when you receive a gift they will take note of that.

At the end of the day, any of the above Christmas Traditions could work and create happy memories for you and your family. I’d love to hear what strategies you’ve tried that have been successful with your family.





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  1. Great post Melissa! I agree. We actually only do stockings at Christmas time, and then spend our money on a family outing or something special for the kids to do in the new year. So far it is working well… we will see when the kids get older!

  2. We do two to three gifts at Christmas depending on our expenses. This is also because we have a daughter whose birthday is Christmas Eve. Plus, nine times out of ten, they end up breaking or destroying a toy within days of getting it. For every new toy they get, they have to give one up as well.

  3. It’s funny I wrote a similar post about the amount of gifts we give our kids during Christmas. This is my second Christmas as a mom and I’m struggling with this. Love your post and you have some great points and great ideas. The most important thing is to teach our kids the true meaning of this holiday.

  4. I set a limit of $20 per kid that I have to purchase a gift for. It adds up real quick though and if I aim to spend under the $20

  5. Great ideas. We always try to limit to a certain number of gifts cause let’s face it, life isn’t getting any cheaper. I love the four gift idea of something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read!

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  7. Budgeting is very important in the holiday season! It is the most memorabe time for families , but the most costly too…Love your blog

  8. This year we are going to put a real focus on gratitude, not so much that my children aren’t grateful, but we don’t want them to get that way with age. Love these tips, will be pinning these to keep them through the season.

    • Thanks so much Jess!!! I appreciate it! I’m with you, as my kids get older, I want to make sure they are thankful!

  9. I totally agree with this. As I grown, I’ve realized that my favorite parts about the holidays are the movies, the food, the time with family – gifts have really taken a backseat.

  10. I agree with all of these. We always set a budget and limit gifts to a few special things and some stocking stuffers. It’s so wonderful to do things like making a paper chain or decorating cookies that are super fun because we are together but that don’t cost a lot. And of course, we try really hard to emphasize why we celebrate Christmas in the first place! Lots of Bible stories and baby Jesus crafts 😉

  11. I love your traditions. I particularly loved the one of serving others…I like volunteering for an organization yhat serves homeless people around the holidays.

  12. We are trying to cut back on the number of toy gift and replace with experience gifts. I would love to just go on a cruise during Christmas week, but I think my kids would miss the traditional stuff. Maybe when they are older.

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