Celebrating Holiday Traditions

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The holiday season is a festive time of year, filled to the brim with fun family-friendly activities. Aside from the standard season-appropriate adventures of storytelling, caroling and ornament making, families sometimes crave fun that is different from the norm. Here are a few ideas that may have fallen off your fun radar, but ones that are bound to create lasting holiday memories.

Tracking Santa
Remember when you were a child and could hardly sleep knowing Santa was about to visit your home? You may have spent Christmas Eve with your nose smooshed against the window glass hoping to catch a glimpse of a jolly man in a red suit accompanied by eight flying reindeer. “Santa watching” has taken a new twist now that tracking Santa has gone high tech. Apps such as Google Santa Tracker let kids and parents follow Santa on the go with the use of smart devices. The Santa Tracker app is available on Google Play; it starts tracking Santa on Christmas Eve and users can follow his journey online. NORAD has been tracking Santa since 1955 and has recently partnered with Bing Maps and Microsoft to provide a family -friendly program by the North American Aerospace Defense Command, noradsanta.org, which tracks Santa around the world using military sensors and technology. These options are exciting and techy ways for the family to watch Santa traverse the globe.

Holiday Book Traditions
Reading to children is a big part of family living during the year, but it takes on a new meaning around the holidays. What better way to share holiday traditions, folklore and magic than to snuggle together as a family and read. Classics such as A Charlie Brown Christmas or How the Grinch Stole Christmas and others, which are available in app form to help parents read to their kids. The oral traditions that celebrate Chanukah and the observation of Kwanzaa also help parents take a walk down memory lane.

Elf on the Shelf®
Elf on the Shelf began as a children’s book in 2005, written and self-published by American author Carol Aebersold and daughter Chanda Bell and illustrated by Coë Steinwart. Elf on the Shelf featured a Christmas-themed tale, written in rhyme, that explains how Santa knows who is naughty and who is nice. As time went on Elf on a Shelf evolved into a physical activity involving an elf who was strategically placed (by Mom and Dad) around the house to keep watch on the kids’ behavior. Kids have a ball trying to guess and find where the Elf is on any given day.

Family Movie Night
Most parents have an endless number of forgotten DVDs in their home that seems to grow as their children age. The beauty of children’s movies is that no matter what character, show or movie your child is into, there is probably a holiday version of that movie available. From Muppets to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, re-living and re-watching these movies can create a fun and laid back family tradition.

Engage the Tweens and Teens
When many mothers consider purchasing materials for holiday crafts, they generally think about crafts for younger children and not teenagers. While many teens would rather hang out with friends or listen to their iPods, there are plenty of artsy teens who would enjoy these activities. Even if your tween or teen isn’t into crafty stuff, creating holiday crafts can be a good family night activity. Simple craft activities that double as gift-making creations include homemade bath salts, pine cone wreaths, mosaic tile picture frames and DIY wind chimes. For more ideas, search “Christmas crafts for teens” on Pinterest and enjoy a mother lode of ideas.

Food Creations and Crafts
One of the most treasured holiday activities is eating all the yummy holiday food. Homemade foods and treats are often the best gifts for family and friends as well. Baking appeals to kids of all ages, and whether they’re preschoolers or teenagers, they can help and will have fun. Simple baked goods such as brownies and cookies are always a hit, as are more complex projects such as soup mixes in a jar or handcrafted candies.
Whether it’s baking, reading or making crafts, holiday activities are a great way to create quality family memories that your children will pass on to their children and remember for a lifetime. HLM

Sources: appadvice.com, elfontheshelf.com and Wikipedia.org.


Creating Handmade Bath Salts
Bath salts are enjoyed by many women and make an excellent gift for moms, aunts, grandmothers and teachers.

Mixing bowl
Epsom salt
Food coloring
1/4 teaspoon glycerin
Essential oil of preferred fragrance
Decorative glass jars

Pour 2 cups of Epsom salt in mixing bowl and stir until all lumps are removed. Next, add a few drops of food coloring and stir until the salt is evenly colored. Follow by stirring in the glycerin with approximately 5 drops of essential oil. Finish by funneling salt into decorative jars and attaching tags directing recipients to use 1/3 cup per bath.