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As my boys grow older, they become more excited about Christmas each year. The oldest is in kindergarten and has been discussing his wish list with his friends from school since before Halloween. The youngest, just 3 years old, has this whole present thing all figured out and is always eager to join his brother in the gift-list discussion. When I saw this happening—my sweet little boys already thinking solely about presents and what they wanted to receive—I knew I had to do something to shift the focus of our holiday season.
I thought back to my Christmas experiences growing up, and while I could remember very few of the specific gifts that I received,I had a lot of memories of doing fun activities with my family around the holidays as well as experiencing the joy of giving by blessing others during the Christmas season. I decided to take those two ideas and create a to-do list of sorts, or to be more seasonally appropriate, a 12 Days of Christmas Bucket List.
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I sat down with my husband and our boys and came up with 12 things we could do to either make memories as a family or find a way to give to others. None of the ideas we came up with were very expensive or elaborate, but they will hopefully all be experiences that we will look back on and cherish. Here is our 12 Days of Christmas Bucket List:
- Drive around to see Christmas lights
- Surprise someone with coffee or hot chocolate
- Go to a candlelight service
- Pay for the person behind us in line at the drive-thru
- Bake cookies for the neighbors
- Give toys to kids in need
- Visit a local church’s life-sized Nativity
- Decorate gingerbread houses
- Create Christmas cards and send them to troops
- String popcorn to make Christmas tree garland
- Make a special Christmas video for relatives who live far away
- Watch a favorite Christmas movie
Once we had our list, I decided to come up with a pretty way to display our 12 days as a reminder to set aside that time to really be intentional as a family. I used my electronic cutting machine to cut out some card stock ornaments and cards with our activities listed on them and hung them up in our main living area so that we could see them each day.
Now when we're spending time in the living room, the boys will go over to the cards, ask about each one, and start getting excited about each of the different events we'll be doing. Presents are no longer the only topic of holiday conversation, and we've been able to talk to them a lot about the true meaning of Christmas.
I love the intentionality that this activity has brought to our family's Christmas season this year. This project doesn't have to be fancy—you could simply handwrite a list and tack it to the fridge or use it as an opportunity to do a craft with the kiddos. But I'm hoping that when my boys grow up and look back on our Christmases, they will remember spending time together as a family and serving others around us and that they will strive to make holidays memorable with their own families as well.
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What activities does your family do as a reminder of the real meaning of Christmas? Tell us in the comments below.
Abby Lawson is the girl behind Just a Girl and Her Blog, a blog that specializes in organization, home decor, creative ideas and random happy thoughts. She is also the author of the eBook Building a Framework: Everything I Learned My First Year of Blogging, a comprehensive resource for bloggers. Abby currently resides in Pittsburgh, PA, with her husband and two young sons.