Experience a Candlelight Service…Nothing compares to candles and carols on Christmas Eve at your local church—singing Silent Night by candlelight!

Let Everyone be a Chef…Let each member of the family make part of the meal. Spend a little time the week before planning what you’re going to have, and who will be responsible for each part. If you have a small kitchen, or if your kids are young, help them prepare their part of the meal the night before. Try simple, kid-friendly holiday recipes such as Cranberry Jell-O Salad, Broccoli-Bacon Salad, Easy Pumpkin Pie or Christmas Cookies.

Say Thanks…Spend time going around the table sharing what you are most thankful for. If you think your kids might not put much effort into sharing their thanks verbally, put a twist on this favorite holiday tradition by asking them to demonstrate or illustrate what they are most thankful for this year.

Share Your Favorite Faith-Based Holiday Traditions…Read stories and passages related to Christmas. Alternatively, let your children put on their own play, demonstrating the real meaning of the holiday. They can work on this together while you prepare the meal.

Celebrate the Holiday with Crafts…Let your children decorate the dinner table, their rooms, or the outside of your home with holiday decorations. Try the following suggestions:

Blessing Ornaments: Take some basic tree ornaments, and with a variety of paint pens, have everyone list one person or thing they are thankful for on each ornament. Favorite picks include: the name of each family member, both present and past; hope, peace, love, friends, faith; names of cherished pets; biblical references such as God, Jesus—the list of blessings is only limited by each person’s imagination. When dry, hang the ornaments upon the tree and count your many blessings!

Hershey Kisses Advent Calendar: Help your kids count down the days until Christmas with this yummy homemade Advent calendar. Simply fold Hershey kisses (or any other festive chocolates) into plastic Saran wrap. Then tie each treat off with a piece of ribbon. You can even put notes inside each section, so that the Advent calendar includes 25 reasons why you love your kids, or 25 reasons why you’re proud of them. In this way, the calendar serves two purposes—counting down to Christmas Day, and reinforcing to your kids how much you love and care about them!

Watch a Holiday Classic…After dinner, spend some time watching a holiday classic together. Here are some of the top recommendations from Carey Bryson’s Guide to Kids’ Movies & TV:

Top Christmas Movies for Families: 

• A Charlie Brown Christmas
• Mickey’s Christmas Carol
• The Polar Express
• Miracle on 34th Street
• Frosty the Snowman
• How the Grinch Stole Christmas
• A Christmas Story
• Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Play Games Together…Another favorite among after-dinner holiday traditions is playing games together. From playing a traditional game of charades, to playing your kids’ favorite board games, having fun together is a great way to spend the holiday. Here are some recommendations:

10 Kids’ Board Games that are Fun For Parents, Too: 

• Candyland
• Sorry
• Connect Four
• Uno
• Checkers
• Yahtzee
• Scrabble Jr.
• Monopoly Jr.
• Life

Get Out of the House…Plan to do something fun together after dinner. For example, go bowling, see a movie, or drive around town and check out the Christmas decorations. Just for fun, you could even have your kids vote for the best ones.

Make a List…Every season, it seems that there are so many things that we want to do, but never get done. Why not turn making a list into one of your regular holiday traditions?

Make Serving Others a Priority…Find a way to weave serving others into your holiday traditions. Get a group together to sing Christmas carols at a local retirement center, make cards for troops, drop dessert off to a local women’s shelter or make an egg casserole to deliver to The Salvation Army for their volunteers to share with others less fortunate. This will not only teach your children valuable lessons about what’s really important, but it will lift your spirits, as well. —Shared by Jennifer Wolf

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