Creative Child

Creative Christmas Traditions

by Rebecca Eanes

The Christmas season is a time rich in traditions for many families.  As we gather together to partake in these traditions, we are reminded of the most important part of our busy, whirring lives: family. I’ve gathered my favorite traditions that evoke creativity and connection, two of my very favorite things. 

Artistic Traditions 

Is your creative child an artist? Summon his or her artistic talent in the following activities. 

  1. The making of a gingerbread house is a common tradition in many households. The first time we made one, I wanted it to be as perfect and beautiful as the one on the box. Needless to say, with two young children, it ended up a broken mess. My younger son enjoyed taking the broken pieces and creating a gingerbread dinosaur while my older one sculpted houses unlike any in the instructions. The result wasn’t picture perfect, but the memory was.
  2. Make a magnetic Christmas countdown for your refrigerator or magnetic board with only a few supplies: A poster board, crayons or colored pencils, a magnet, cotton balls, optional small wooden ornament. Cut your desired shape out of the poster board. We chose a large Christmas tree. We drew 25 circles on the tree and dated them. I then let my children color and decorate the tree while I made a snowman marker by hot gluing 3 circles (cut from left-over poster board) into the shape of a snowman, gluing on 3 cotton balls, and adhering the magnet to the back. As an alternative, you could simply glue the magnet to the back of a small wooden ornament. Each day, the children move the marker one day closer to Christmas.
  3. Create a unique activity calendar. One of my favorite traditions is our activity calendar, and we had a lot of fun making it! You’ll need a long ribbon, several pieces of craft felt, 25 miniature clothespins, markers, glitter, glue, and paper. Cut 25 squares of felt and fold to make pockets. Hot glue 3 sides, leaving the top pocket open. Get the kids involved in numbering and decorating the pockets. Tack up a long ribbon across the wall, and use the clothespins to attach the pockets across the ribbon. As a family, come up with 25 activities to do, such as baking cookies, seeing the Christmas lights, watching a holiday movie, etc. Put one activity in each pocket. Each day, you’ll do the activity in the pocket together.
  4. Making handmade ornaments is another family favorite. We particularly like to create salt dough ornaments. You’ll need 4 cups of flour, 1 cup of salt, 1-1/2 cups of water, acrylic paint, ribbon, and cookie cutters. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Mix flour and salt well. Gradually add water. Knead dough for about 15 minutes, until soft and pliable. Roll the dough out on a floured surface about 1/8” thick. Cut shapes with cookie cutters. Poke holes in the top of the ornaments to thread ribbon through later for hanging. I used a straw to make the holes. Place ornaments on a cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees for approximately 45 minutes (until they are hard). Paint with acrylic paint.
  5. Grab a few 8 x 10 canvases from your local craft store and start a keepsake painting tradition. Give your tot a brush and a bit of paint and stand back as she creates a masterpiece you’re sure to treasure for years to come. You could go with a theme, such as asking her to paint a reindeer or a winter scene each year. It’ll be fun to watch her talent flourish over the years and see the change in her paintings as she grows.

Culinary Traditions 

Julia Child once said, “A party without cake is just a meeting.” Turn your family gathering into a party with these food traditions. 

  1. Host an annual Christmas cookie decorating party. Bake up lots and lots of cookies, invite your kids’ friends over, crank up the Christmas music, and prepare for sprinkle-slinging fun. Deliver the finished cookies to neighbors or community helpers.
  2. One day, your children will be telling your grandchildren about the amazing Santa pancakes you whipped up every Christmas Eve morning. It’s super easy. Just make a regular pancake, then create a whipped cream beard, a sliced strawberry hat, and banana slice eyes. 
  3. Who wouldn’t adore reindeer cupcakes on Christmas movie marathon day? Bake your favorite cupcakes and simply add M&M eyes and nose and use broken pretzels for antlers. Cute and tasty!
  4. When you’re trying to prepare a Christmas feast, it’s so much easier to just keep the kids out of the kitchen, but inviting kids to cook with you has a lot of benefits. Get them a Christmas apron and make it a new tradition this year. Children are more likely to eat what they helped to make. Plus, it teaches them all sorts of necessary skills and provides quality bonding time. The memories you’ll make will be worth the extra time it took.

 More traditions continued on next page...

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