Photo by Sue Weaver
Hey, it's almost Christmas! We've talked about cool things to do for Christmas in previous years, but here are some new activities to try this year. If you like them, make them Christmas traditions by doing them every year.
1. Treats for Homeless Animals
When you whip up holiday treats for the animals on your farm, make extras and take them to your local animal shelter, or send a batch to your favorite animal rescue organization. It's a generous (and yummy) thing to do.
2. Christmas Surprises for Families in Need
Talk with someone at your county social services office and see if you can take fixings for Christmas dinner to a needy family along with gifts for the kids. You could also host a shoebox gift party for your friends. Ask everyone to bring at least one shoebox and things to go in them, like toys, books, ball caps, barrettes and school supplies; you furnish the party snacks and gift wrap. When the shoeboxes are packed with goodies and nicely wrapped, tag them with the recipient's gender and approximate age and take them to social services for distribution.
3. Special Gift Ornaments
Create a Christmas tradition for your children by giving them a special Christmas tree ornament this year. Choose something each child will love, like a rocking horse for your pony-besotted 8-year-old or an NFL-licensed ornament for your sports-minded son. Use permanent marker to write the year in an inconspicuous spot on each ornament. Encourage the recipients to hang the ornaments on your family Christmas tree. Also gift each child with a nice storage container, like a sturdy, decorated box or plastic tote and packing material like bubble wrap. Add new ornaments every year. By the time your kids leave home, they'll have a collection of memorable ornaments to decorate their own first Christmas tree.
4. Letters From Santa
Write a letter from Santa to each of your kids and tuck it inside of that child's Christmas stocking. Highlight special things they've accomplished this year and tell them how proud Santa is of them.
5. Christmas Pajamas
Buy matching Christmas pajamas for the whole family—including the lambies! Wrap and place them under the tree. Plan to open the packages on Christmas Eve so that everyone can wear their pajamas on Christmas morning.
6. Gingerbread Houses (or Doughnuts)
Build or buy a gingerbread house to dismantle and eat on Christmas Day. If that seems too involved, try gingerbread donuts instead.
7. Christmas Movie Marathon
Set aside one night each week to watch a holiday movie, such as "Miracle on 34th Street,” "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," "It's a Wonderful Life" and "A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Or host a Christmas movie marathon and watch them all on Christmas Eve.
8. Holiday Memory Boxes
Create a holiday memory box. Include photocopies of your kids' letters to Santa. Record favorite Christmas songs on a thumb drive or CD. Shoot lots of pictures and place them in a holiday Christmas album. Print out favorite recipes so they won't be lost. Add to the box every year.
9. Pet Christmas Costumes
Buy or make funny hats for you and your pets to wear on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Save them to use from year to year. Animal costumes don't have to be expensive to be fun—the hat and bell collar baby Gizmo is wearing in the picture above cost $1 at the local dollar store.
10. Go Goat!
Finally, go goat this year. Add a straw julbock or goaty ornaments to your Christmas decorations or pack up the kids and go julebukk, a Norwegian custom whereby children dress up in costume and go caroling. Goat costumes are optional but cool!