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Awesome things we do for Christmas, if you want a couple of ideas

Forum: Large Families


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December 26th, 2010, 12:36 PM
Farmers-wife's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 6,406
I mentioned in another thread I was going to start a thread about a couple really awesome things we do for Christmas that I think are some of our best ideas in parenting ever. 7 years ago, we spent Christmas with my father for a week. It was the worst Christmas time of our marriage, maybe our lives. We decided we needed to do better the next year. So we did.


We began by trying to slow down and be together every night (or as many as possible) of the month of Dec. We found out about these books by Arnold Ytreeide. There are 3 stories (Jotham's Journey, Barthalomew's Passage, Tabitha's Travels). They are written for a nightly reading of the story, which are cliff hangers, and then a devotional time to focus of a Biblical principle. After the reading, we would pray together and then sing 3 songs.

Amazon.com: ytreeide

Wreath- Then I added in a small wreath. Nothing fancy or spectacular. I even reuse candles sometimes from year to year. If I need new ones I get them from the dollar store. The wreath itself is just a fake one from the Walmart. Tradition says the candles are 3 purple, 1 pink, and 1 white. You light a new one each week so you have 1 burning the first week, 2 the second, and so on. You go purple, purple, pink purple. The pink is the indicator that it is midway through, half way to Christmas! But you can use any color. The white one is for Christmas day. We always forgot so started doing that one on Christmas Eve.

Calendar- Last year I wanted to add in a calendar. The girls had learned to crochet and one of them made something that gave me an idea. So I had them make 24 of them and made them into pockets. I labeled them with glitter paint and hooked them on a foam core board. In each pocket I put pieces of candy or a note telling them some special thing we are going to do. I try to come up with as many plans ahead of time so I have the month planned out. Things like going to see lights, or a Christmas play or visiting someone are always good. Or just put the candy in there.


We decided after that awful year at my dad's to stay home, which we held to until this year. It is good to be flexible. The great thing about the Advent books and calendar is you can take them with you anywhere.

Wrapping paper-

We don't do Santa, so this might not work for those of you who do. We wrap the kids presents in one style of wrapping paper for each kid. That way, if they see the presents, they don't know who it is for, because the key to the wrapping paper is a safely guarded secret. Then, on Christmas morning they come out and see the key. The kids can pick out there own, even if they can't read! If you get sharing presents, you use the wrapping paper for the kids who are supposed to share.


Of course we go to church for Christmas Eve service. Mostly to get someone to take a picture of all of us:

Clean up-

This is just me, but I am ready for everything to be gone. MY favorite tradition is to clean up all the trees, stockings, cards, garbage, etc on Dec 26. The house is emptied of excess clutter and I feel so much better!

So, these have been some thing that have been blessings to us. If you have some great ideas, please share!
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December 26th, 2010, 03:23 PM
Mega Super Mommy
Join Date: May 2009
Location: southern cali
Posts: 3,549
i love these ideas!!! we tried an advent calendar this year with candy in it -- not doing that again!!! i also do the wrapping paper thing - or i number each child and just put numbers on the packages. i am one of those that gives each kid a color in general so they know whose cup/plate (or whatever) is whose. i like organization -- doesn't mean i have any, just like it!

one thing we did different this year was, because of $$, we let the grown kids draw names and they each bought for the one name they drew. then, we each, as we could afford, bought for the 'littles'. usually i buy for all the grown kids as well. this year, i got each a token gift of something they needed or wanted in the range of $20-ish dollers. but then, on christmas eve, at dinner, we announced that in march, when #1 son is home from afghanistan, we are paying for the reservation for each family to stay at a hot springs spa in palm springs for a weekend. they have to pay for their food etc. this way they have time to save for it and i can enjoy the thought of ALL my babies being with us for a weekend of swimming and just relaxing. best part: no prep and no clean-up!!

and i am right there with ya on the clean-up on the 26th. i wanted to, but i am too tired today so maybe tomorrow. gotta have some sense of order around here amongst all the toys and baby gear.
what goes around, comes around.....
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December 26th, 2010, 05:18 PM
Just_Marie's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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If I had any more energy or desire, all that Christmas junk would be boxed, someday when I don't feel terrible, it'll happen

Lucky mother to five!

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December 26th, 2010, 06:15 PM
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We do one wrapping paper pattern per kid too. For us it is easier than to/from tag forgery. My MIL gave the kids chocolate advent calendars this year so we skipped our usual drawers with notes about what we were doing for Christmas each day. I missed it and will be glad to do it again next year.

DH firmly believes the tree and decorations are for new years too, which I am used to anyway so it is cool with me.

I like your wreath tradition, is that something your family created?

Mom x 5

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December 26th, 2010, 08:34 PM
Farmers-wife's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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Oh no. It was a church tradition for centuries.
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December 27th, 2010, 01:52 AM
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Australia
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I love these ideas. I really like the coordinated wrapping paper idea. I will definetly do that next year.

We did an advent calendar this year, but i really didn't want one with chocolates so I bought a natvity scene with stickers. The kids took turn putting the stickers on. It was a bit small, so I don't think i'll do that again. I like the idea of little notes about things we are going to do. That will help me build up the anticipation for Christmas as well.

You are setting up great traditions for your family FW.

Oh and by the way. Loved your photos. You have a beautiful family.
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December 27th, 2010, 08:58 AM
Mom to 8 amazing kids
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I love the wrapping paper idea, I am going to have to hold on to that for when the smaller ones get a little older. What a fun way to keep them guessing.
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December 27th, 2010, 10:08 AM
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This is why FW is a homeschooler and I am not. And lmao fw, I see your oldest girls expression and body language (the one in the brown) she looks SO thrilled to be in the picture (much like my oldest could be lol).

We have a birth day cake for Jesus, we open presents on the 24th and then have cake. It's an angel food cake (it's a circle representing God has no beginning and end), red candies representing Jesus dying on the cross, green candies that Jesus is everlasting, and white icing, representing that our sins are forgiven (white as snow).

We started drawing names as a familiy, and pick presents for about $15, dad and I are included too as we don't always do presents for each other but the kids like us to have something to open too) and you have to do 2 secret acts of kindness for whoevers name you have (like make their bed etc).

We go to church Christmas morning And we have in the past also read Christmas stories for our family devotions.
mom of 5 girls
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December 27th, 2010, 12:19 PM
Doodle's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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the wrapping paper thing I decided to do next year. We keep christmas small but as we keep adding more kids it can be so crazy trying to get each kid their gifts without someone else tearing into them!
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Erin, Mama to 6 little birds

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December 27th, 2010, 12:47 PM
Just_Marie's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Jan 2006
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I did the wrapping paper thing from Santa this year, worked out well considering all the ripping and tearing that was going on

I love your ideas, ladies.

we: do stockings and a treasure hunt on Christmas morning. dh threw the turkey in the oven. The kids play with stocking stuff while we make breakkie-this year we had french toast and bacon. Then we opened gifts. Put kids down for a nap, I napped on the couch while dh finished the meal. Woke all up and ate our big turkey dinner. Then we bathed all and did mass at 4pm. It was really cool

We did Christmas jammies on Christmas eve for the first time ever, it was the only gift they could open---Nolan ran out of the room crying. Jammies did not go well with him, lol! Turkey!

Lucky mother to five!

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December 27th, 2010, 01:59 PM
kassia's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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I am one to takes the tree down the day after Christmas as well, I can't stand it being around any longer.
Mom of
Sam 13, Hannah 11, Gabriel 7, Emma 6 and Brayden 2

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December 29th, 2010, 04:01 AM
myblueyez's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
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I love the wrapping paper idea!! So using that one next year..
We did the jammies this year, it was the one thing they opened Christmas Eve and they wore them the whole day of Christmas. They didn't have to, they just wanted to..
Killing Time - my blog

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December 29th, 2010, 08:09 AM
Mega Super Mommy
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Originally Posted by MarieJ View Post
We did Christmas jammies on Christmas eve for the first time ever, it was the only gift they could open---Nolan ran out of the room crying. Jammies did not go well with him, lol! Turkey!
I was always worried that the kids would be disappointed with only getting Jammies for the one present they could open on Christmas Eve, so I wrap their jammies in together with another small/cheap toy and they open it together. This year I got them those velvet coloring sheets.. the kind that come with markers and has the black velvet all around the edge of the coloring area of the picture and wrapped them in the the jammies. I got the coloring thing from the dollar store for a dollar. That way they get the jammies and something small to be excited over.

I LOVE the wrapping paper idea!! I just have to figure out how to make it work with Santa!! My Christmas stuff all stays up until the New Year.. just the way I like it.
Andrea, Mama to.. Noah (2006), Nickolas (2007), Alyzabeth (2008), and Savannah (2010)

Many Many Thanks to GraysMama (Chelsea) for my AMAZING Siggy!!!

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December 29th, 2010, 03:40 PM
Farmers-wife's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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For clarification:

We put our tree in our burn pile. But in 5 years of living here we have never actually burned it. So the tree is being slowly turned into compost.

#1 did look annoyed in that picture, but didn't in all of them, but the one where she looked best, another had his eyes clothes, etc. So while she can be cantankerous and filled with attitude, it wasn't her intent this time.
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December 29th, 2010, 04:31 PM
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mama to four - santa leaves a very obvious gift unwrapped perched on their wrapping paper pile, that way they know whose is for whom. The first year I think Santa actually wrote a letter. He writes a kids a response to their letter - next to the cookies and milk.... The paper is pretty much a dead give away too.
Sebastian had spiderman
Esme had princesses
Clara had winnie the pooh
sapphire had the snowmen (ok so maybe not a complete giveaway but hers was the only non-cartoon one, suitable for a mature girl of 11 )

As for PJs, they don't open them, the elves mysteriously leave them on their beds. That way there is no build up in unwrapping something, just a magical surprise

Oh and my town recycles the trees too. I just have to bring it to the curb and they do a town wide pickup.

Mom x 5

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