For those of you who are looking for STILL MORE seasonal traditions, I wanted to share some that others have shared with me. The types of traditions I'm focusing on are those that extend through the Advent season to develop that sense of hopefulness and anticipation.
Elf on the Shelf
The Elf on the Shelf tradition is based on a book that tells the story of an elf that watches over the children in the household and reports back to Santa at the North Pole about whether they are naughty or nice. The elf hangs out at the house all day and reports back to Santa at night. The elf often hides or does some bit of innocent mischief upon return, and the children find the elf each morning. The official website of Elf on a Shelf can be found here: http://www.elfontheshelf.com/
You can find ideas for the types of mischief your elf might do all over blogs and pinterest online. In its simplest form, the elf just hides each night, and the children find the elf in the morning. More elaborate scenarios might involve the elf playing the the children's toys, making messes or bringing simple gifts and treats.
You know how I keep telling you that it's ok to take things slow, to not do everything all at once? But, of course, kids will expect the elf to make an appearance every day. So, I found this website with a list of EXCUSES for what happened if the elf doesn't show: My Pigeon Pair. There you go! You can keep your relaxed, flexible frame of mind for the holidays. You've been provided with excuses. You're welcome. (My Pigeon Pair is also filled with Elf Mischief ideas. So, spend some time there and have a look around.)
I know of families that have changed the whole story, but they like the idea of something that hides or does mischief for the children to find in the morning. So, some families have fairies, some have bears, some have a monster... Maybe there's a neglected stuffed toy in the back of your child's closet somewhere that you could adopt as your seasonal mischief-maker. Name the toy, put it on the mantle, on a window or on a shelf, introduce the idea to your child, and let the merriment begin!
Random Acts of Christmas Kindness (RACK)
Some families choose to count down the days until Christmas with Random Acts of Christmas Kindness. Sometimes they keep these ideas in envelopes - one for each day - or they have them in their Advent calendar. I found this beautiful blog post about a family choosing to begin this tradition: Gathering and Scattering. And more of a how-to post with printable RACK cards can be found here: TSJ Photography. That post includes back links to how her family got started with RACK and how it ended up for them in 2010. Be sure to click around on all the links.
The Empty Manger OR The Last Straw
This is a tradition in which the family begins with an empty manger at the beginning of the holiday season and a pile of straw (straw can be found at many craft or garden supply stores). Family members secretly do kind things for each other, and each time they do something kind, they place a straw in the manger. The goal is to make a comfortable bed of straw for the baby Jesus...and to prepare and soften our hearts as we celebrate the gift of Messiah. This tradition is based on a true story called The Last Straw. Tennessee Farmgirl wrote a beautiful blog post about practicing this tradition with her family.
************************************************************This is the 3rd post in a series of posts about Advent, Christmas, Jesse Tree & Chanukah traditions. See the other posts here: