by Nabanita Dutt on 2018-12-24
Whether it’s a family get-together, a glittering party or just a quiet celebration at home, let’s make Christmas really special this year – and keep our end of the family expectation that we women are all Fairy Godmothers who only have to wave a magic wand for Christmas to be perfect.
# 1: MAKE FOOD FOR THE REINDEERS
Get the kids to put together a traditional meal of oats and some festive candy sprinkles for Santa's reindeers. Toss it in the lawn and enjoy your children's excitement at the thought that Santa's hungry team may stop in the night to snack in your yard.
# 2: CREATE A SANTA'S "TRAIL"
On Christmas Eve, after the children have gone to bed, leave a crumb trail of small presents from the fireplace (or a window if you don't have one) to the Christmas tree. Expect some serious amazement the morning after when the kids witness Santa's "clumsiness".
# 3: FOR PEOPLE WITH NO HOLIDAYS
Bake a few batches of cookies with your children and take them to distribute the cookies at your local fire station, police department or among staff at the local hospital -- all people who don't get to spend Christmas with their families because they are busy keeping us safe.
# 4: MAKE CHRISTMAS STORIES COME ALIVE
Read books like The Night Before Christmas, Santa Mouse and How The Grinch Stole Christmas every night to the children before they go to bed. Let their imagination and dreams take them to happy, thrilling places -- where every child needs to be.
# 5: TRACK SANTA'S TRIP FROM NORTH POLE ON NORAD
Visit NoradSanta.org on Christmas Eve so the children can watch Santa's journey from North Pole to places around the world, distributing gifts among children. The program gives minute-by-minute tracking information on Santa's movements.
# 6: WHO HAS THE BEST CHRISTMAS LIGHTS?
Take the kids around town to view some amazing Christmas lights display. Wrap up in snuggly blankets, drink warm cocoa, play carols in the car and encourage a feisty debate about which house has the best Christmas lights display in 2014.
# 7: PLAY SAFE WITH WHITE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
Mind change, moods change as the kids grow up, and if you're buying new Christmas lights this year, you may consider white lights instead of colored. That way, you will never tire of the same colors every year and you can mix a few strands of your yearly color theme in if you wish.
# 8: LEAVE A BOOT OUTSIDE ON DECEMBER 5
Adopt the fun German custom of getting the kids to leave a shoe or boot outside on the night of December 5. The next morning, on St. Claus Day, let them find their shoes filled with candy and small presents.
# 9: WATCH OUT FOR NISSE!
Nisse is Denmark's Christmas gnome, who is always up to some mischief during the Holiday season. He wears grey woolies and a red cap, and plays pranks on people. Involve Nisse in your Holiday plans this year, and find inventive stories about Nisse's escapades to entertain the children. You can read up on Nisse here.
# 10: TRY YOUR LUCK IN THE URN OF FATE
The Italians have a tradition called Urn of Fate, which is a great way to extend the pleasures of receiving gifts. An urn is filled with wrapped empty boxes and one real gift for each person. Thereafter, everybody takes turn to see if their pick proves empty or if they strike lucky with a real gift!
# 11: MAKE YOUR OWN CHRISTMAS FIRECRACKERS
A tradition that has endured in Britain since the 19th Century is pulling firecrackers at Christmas. They're quite easy to make and can become part of your Christmas celebrations too. Find a steo-by-step guide on how to make Christmas firecrackers at home here.
# 12: EXCHANGE OPLATEK `PICTURE' BREAD
People of Poland have a lovely custom of making thin slices of wafer bread imprinted with a holy photo on top. When you exchange Oplatek bread with another person, it involves two things: forgiving all past hurts and wishing each other a prosperous new year. Oplatek is usually pink or white and is an ordinary wafer with a photo imprint that you can make on your own or
simply buy online.
# 13: SHARE CHRISTMAS WITH THE BIRDS
In Finland, Christmas is an occasion shared with birds and the children make fun projects with a pole tied with a sheaf of grain on top. Seeds and nuts are added to the feast and the pole is left outside for hungry birds to find in December.
# 14: WATCH THE DUCK ON CHRISTMAS EVE
Precisely at 3 pm on Christmas Eve, more than half the population of Sweden sits down in front of their television to watch the 1958 Walt Disney Christmas Special: From All Of Us To All Of You. Sweden literally closes down at 3 pm in honor of the Donald Duck cartoon, that cannot be taped to watch later. You have to see "KalleAnka" (Donald Duck) during the day's special telecast.
# 15: MAKE CHRISTMAS "FRUIT DOLLS"
In Germany, people make Zwetschgenmaennia -- Christmas dolls with apples or dried fruits and nuts. With a walnut head, fig body and prune arms and legs, these dolls are dressed in traditional costumes and joyfully made by children to display and distribute. Get your kids making their own apple or dried fruit dolls this year with instructions right here.
# 16: HIDE A PICKLE IN THE TREE
A tradition has built around the legend of a Civil War soldier who was given a pickle on Christmas Eve as an act of kindness. The soldier believed that the timely gift of a pickle saved him from starving to death, and he began hiding a pickle in their family tree every year for a lucky winner to find in the morning. Consider introducing this playful idea as a new family activity on Christmas morning.
# 17: TURN YOUR WINDOWS INTO WINTER WONDERLANDS
Glass wax stenciling was very popular in the 1950s when children would stencil festive designs on windows for the Christmas season. The white frosty finish of the stencil art creates an ambience of winter wonderland, and they're so easy to wipe off after Christmas. Find out more about glass wax stenciling here.
# 18: MAKE A CHRISTINGLE
Christingles are a European custom for Christmas and a lovely symbolic gift to give away as favors too. The orange represents the world, the red ribbon signifies the blood of Christ, the 4 dry fruit skewers symbolize the 4 seasons and the candle in the middle is Jesus Christ spreading his light of love in the world.
# 19: GIVE SANTA HIS MAGIC KEY
If you don't have a fireplace, you can make a ceremonial key for Santa with paint and glitter. Slip a ribbon through it and leaving it hanging outside your door on Christmas eve. When Santa comes in the middle of the night and finds no chimney, he can use the key to get inside!
# 20: LEAVE SANTA'S FOOTPRINTS
On Christmas Eve, spray the bottom of your shoes with fake snow and then leave a trail of footprints from the fireplace or entryway to the Christmas tree. When the kids wake up, the little detectives will find this evidence of
Santa's nocturnal visit, and have no reason to suspect he's not real.
# 21: DID SANTA WRITE TO YOUR KIDS?
You can get "authentic" handwritten letters from Santa for your kids to find by the tree on Christmas morning. The little ones are so smart these days, but they cannot possibly doubt Santa's favorite font and the official North Pole postmark on their letters right? VisitHandwrittenSantaLetters.com to request Santa writes a personal letter to your family this year.
# 22: DON'T SHARE THIS SECRET WITH YOUR KIDS -- YET!
Start a tradition of mailing a letter to your offsprings every Christmas. Don't open the envelope when it arrives or even let them know. When they are older, let them get all the letters you posted every year in a bundle. The messages will become a treasured possession they will cherish for the rest of their lives.
# 23: RELEASE CHRISTMAS WISH BALLOONS
A therapeutic practice for both adults and young. Fix a time when the whole family sits together to think about one wish they want to come true for the family in the New Year. Discuss the wish, enjoy a session of group positive thinking, and then write the wish down on balloons. Release the balloons and watch the winds carry them away.
# 24: HELP YOUR PET HELP HIS OWN COMMUNITY
Involve your pet in the Holiday spirit of Giving Back. Make up a goody bag with inexpensive toys, treats and food. Take your pet and the kids to donate it at a local dog/cat shelter or sanctuary, so some homeless animals can also have something to celebrate this year.
# 25: HAVE SANTA AWARD `GOOD DEED' PINS
Make a bunch of "good deed" pins. Each time you child does a good deed during the Holiday season, tell him/her to expect a pin from Santa in the post box the next day. On Christmas morning, the kids can proudly wear all the pins Santa has sent them throughout December for the entire day.
# 26: KFC FOR CHRISTMAS, ANYBODY?
No, we don't advice this unusual nugget of a Christmas practice that's very popular in Japan. The country apparently celebrates Christmas Day by eating fried chicken from KFC!
# 27: BEFANA, THE CHRISTMAS WITCH
In Italy they seem to do Halloween and Christmas in reverse order! On the night of January 5, the Epiphany Eve, it's Befana the Witch who enters households through the fireplace and leaves gifts and candy for the children. In return, the kids leave wine and food for the friendly witch to feast on. So will Befana be visiting your home in 2015 to carry on the Christmas spirit?
# 28: SPIDER WEB AT CHRISTMAS?
A lesson in the joys of simplicity is the Ukrainian practice of hanging spider web on the Christmas tree. Legend has it that a spider felt sorry for a poor family and spun a web to decorate their bare tree. The web hung like a silver festoon, bringing so much happiness to the poor kids who couldn't afford real ornaments. Their Christmas was complete.
# 29: ONE STIR, ONE WISH
Adopt the British tradition of everyone in the family stirring the Christmas dessert mix. Each person gets to stir once in a clockwise direction and then make a wish.
# 30: A VERY MESSY CHRISTMAS
Norwegians must have a very messy Christmas Day with bits of wrapping, ribbons and empty gift boxes lying around everywhere. Reason? All brooms are hidden away on Christmas Eve for fear that mean witches will fly around scaring people and spoiling the Holiday for them.
Go on, have fun! You've so earned it!
Happy Holidays from Belia Isza!
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