Christmas celebration is a big deal in the Philippines, and it always starts early–too early! As soon as September 1st comes (or the “-BER” months as we call it), people are already throwing Christmas greetings one with another. Christmas songs are being played on stores and other places, and I am already thinking of gifts to give and Christmas projects to pull-off. It’s a stressful season, but it’s still my favorite.
Why you may ask?
It’s not about the weather getting cold or anything that makes me like Christmas most. I think it’s about the excitement of being with our families and friends that makes it always a delight. Growing up, Christmas has been the only time when I got to see my second cousins and other relatives living miles away from us. We would miss each other throughout the year and would celebrate again come Christmastime. It’s amazing how our families could be so busy throughout the year and then suddenly find time to connect and have fun during Christmas.
That’s when I decided that Christmastime should always be family time. They are the ones that matter most. Why not make my favorite season be for them?
I may have told you in some of my older posts that I love building family traditions small and great for our little family. Throughout the five years that I’ve been a nanay (mother), I have developed a number of simple projects and family traditions with and for the family every Christmas. These activities sure have increased our bond and love for each other. I continue doing these simple family traditions each year, no matter how stressful the Christmas season could get.
You may want to try building these family traditions in your own families this Christmas. I’m sure they will only do your family good!
Decorate your Christmas tree with the kids
Involving the kids in your Christmas to-dos may be a lot to take for some moms, but has definitely worked for me. My five-year-old son Omer really helped me do some small tasks done. From cutting out adhesives for my Christmas gift wrapping, to decorating the Christmas tree, he has proven himself helpful. And I couldn’t be happier!
2016 was my first time to decorate our own Christmas tree since moving out of our parents’ house, and below was a snapshot of our tree (sorry for the low smartphone photo quality!). I worked on buying all the decorations, and let Omer help me on spreading them onto the tree. Although I loved looking at our finished product, I loved and enjoyed seeing my son’s excitement while decorating the tree much much more. Those memories are the ones that stick to the heart, even after all the celebrations are over.
This year, as I start aiming for a minimalist Christmas celebration, I just worked on putting some warm lights to the tree, with Omer putting whatever he wanted to put at the top. On this picture he is trying to put his favorite IronMan lego toy as our star for this Christmas. Works for me! 🙂
DIY your Christmas gifts for the family
I tell you where my stress starts during this lovely occasion… deciding which gifts to give! This starts in November when I would list down the names of all the family members (including nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts, and cousins, and even friends!) and think about gifts to give to each of them. Just as a habit, I would usually give toys or art materials for kids, because they are inexpensive and easy to find. For adults, I always wanted to give gifts they would need and enjoy, and at the same time something I could afford.
Since I love to DIY, I tried to DIY a home decor made with cardboard letters, printed pictures and spray paint. Here was how it looked when I did ours:
Omer and I made about 15 of those for our friends and relatives. The cardboard letter depended upon the first letter of the family’s last name to whom we gave our gift. He would help me put glue on the pictures and sometimes give me directions as to where to put them. One time, when my husband Yuli was available, he even helped out cutting some of the pictures (a thing he doesn’t like doing at first but enjoyed eventually) Yes, it took time, but we had a lot of fun doing it and received lots of love from the families.
Again, it’s the memories that stick to the heart (my new mantra as a striving minimalist)!
Start an annual family Christmas dinner with games for the family
The night before Christmas, or what we call “Noche Buena”, is always busy. We would go to our parents’ house and help mom prepare the dinner, which we will eat at around 10 or 11 pm that night (kids get to eat earlier) before opening up the gifts at exactly 12am.
Christmas celebration would also be more fun if games were prepared for the kids and adults alike.
I remember one Christmas when we made a family contest to bring in our best dish per couple and the winner gets something from dad. Our judges were our cousins and their kids. We also had one Christmas when each of us picked a country and then bring the best dish for that country. One of my siblings picked America and another picked Italy. Being a Harry Potter addict myself, Yuli and I picked the Wizarding World and made our own version of Butterbeer. 🙂
Last year wasn’t anything of that sort. We just came in color-coordinated for our Christmas Family picture–and ate loooooots of food!
It really depends upon the things that your family likes doing. Some families would just sing in karaoke the whole night, others would binge watch a series together. Ultimately, the goal is to spend more time with them and less time with the world.
Remember my new mantra? Say it with me now!
It’s the memories that stick to the heart.
Be sure to take a family Christmas photo
Other than our family picture with the extended family, we also think about doing a Christmas photo project for our little family. I usually get these ideas from Pinterest blogs and just touch it up or down with my own. This was last year’s project, a photo of us kissing in our own cutie mistletoe. I printed it in an A3 paper and then pasted in a canvass board using my own version of mod podge, ready for hanging. I wish I could copy the link of the blog where I got this wonderful idea, but I just couldn’t find it. 🙁
I would love to add to this list. What Christmas family traditions do you have that are not on this list? Share them on the comments below.