I love the little short people that run around my house more than anything, and every year I revel in watching their awe and wonder at the holiday season. We all get caught up in the stress and the hustle and bustle of Christmas, but we also have to remember the love and spirit and magic that we’re celebrating to begin with. It’s worth a few minutes of time during the day to refocus on that love and make Christmas magical for the kiddos because they don’t hold that wonder forever. It’s never very long before there isn’t an elf to complain about anymore!
If you happen to be a new mom, or even if you’re just looking for some ideas on how to amp up the Christmas spirit around your home, here are 15 ways to make Christmas magical for your family. Pick one or two and make some memories—and magic!
1. Start an advent calendar. I’ve tried several different varieties, and the truth is the kids just want to be able to check off the days with SOMETHING. The $2 calendars filled with chocolate have been as big of a hit with my kids as having 25 individually wrapped small gifts to open. We’ve also done the 25 books of Christmas, unwrapping one Christmas book to read every night, and it was such a fun way to count down. It’s never too late to start a countdown to Christmas!
2. Get an Elf on the Shelf. If you’re super into the elf, there are endless resources to inspire fun situations to create for your elf. At our house, the elf tends to get stuck in things for days on end, but the kids still love that he’s here, even if he doesn’t move. They look forward to having the elf around all year!
3. Go see the lights! Babies especially love this tradition. Stroll your neighborhood, find lights in the park or just drive around town to see the displays! The twinkle and sparkle of all the houses that are lit up never fails to make spirits bright.
4. Read The Polar Express. This is such a great classic Christmas story. After you read the book, give large jingle bells to your kids tied with tags that say “The bell still rings for those who truly believe” (you can even Google a free printable). It will be magic!
5. Grow a candy cane. I first spotted this over at Growing a Jeweled Rose, and your kids will fall in love with this darling idea. You help your child “plant” a peppermint, and with a little watering, over a few days it turns into a full grown candy cane.
6. Hold a holiday movie extravaganza. There is something magic about sharing the same Christmas specials and movies you watched when you were a kid with your own children. Make hot cocoa, bake some cookies and settle in for a few Christmas classics to celebrate the season.
7. See a holiday parade. Very few of us will ever see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in person, so it’s always fun to find your local flavor of the parade with festive floats, marching bands playing Christmas carols and Santa bringing up the rear.
8. Write Santa a letter. Even if they can only dictate a letter to you, it’s a precious memory. You can keep your kids’ letters with their baby books over the years.
9. Celebrate St. Nicholas Day. This is mostly a European tradition, and St. Nick is the man from whom the Santa Claus legend originated. On December 6th, children leave their shoes outside their doors for St. Nicholas, and he fills them with treats.
10. Find a “Breakfast with Santa” event to attend. Pancakes and a visit with the big guy himself? What’s not magical about that!
11. Check out Portable North Pole. This is a fun way to have Santa send your kids their own free video messages. They’ll be amazed that Santa knows their names and has pictures of them.
On Christmas Eve
12. Track Santa with NORAD. The government agency North American Aerospace Defense Command has tracked Santa’s progress across the globe for delighted children for over 50 years. You can find the official site at noradsanta.org and watch video progress of Santa’s flight starting on Christmas Eve.
13. Leave a Magic Santa Key for old St. Nick. This tradition (seen below at Design Dazzle) is especially clever for those of us without fireplaces in our homes—the magic key lets Santa in the front door.
14. Make a few Santa footprints by the stockings. You can make a template for a boot print with a sheet of cardstock, place it on the floor and sift a little bit of powdered sugar over the top for “snow” to make it look like Santa has been visiting.
15. Sprinkle reindeer food in the yard. This takes minutes to make, and it doubles fabulously as classroom/friend favors. On Christmas Eve, the kids sprinkle the reindeer food outside. It helps the reindeer and Santa find your house and gives the reindeer a snack while Santa is filling stockings. When the children wake up in the morning, the food is gone! Find a recipe and free printable tag to make reindeer food here.
What are your family traditions that make Christmas magical for the kids?