Making Christmas About Traditions Over Presents

christmas ornament

Christmas preparations are well on their way. Presents are piling up in my closets, the cupboards are filled with ingredients for baking Christmas goodies and our cards are sitting near the door, waiting to be dropped off at the post office. It’s such an exciting time of year!

One thing that concerns me over the holidays is that my daughter seems to demand so many presents. She’s been skipping around our apartment singing off a list of all of the presents she assumes she will get simply because she wrote it on her list to Santa. Not only does my bank account not have the funds for such a long list of presents, I really don’t think she needs that much stuff. Does she even appreciate them after the wrapping paper has been torn off and thrown away?

When I look around her bedroom I see a sea of toys, once loved for a short while and forgotten moments later. I’m trying my best to raise a grateful child. I worry about her getting too many gifts. That’s why this year I have decided to put an emphasis on creating memories through new Christmas traditions and activities rather than receiving presents.

Making Cards

I have decided it’s the perfect time to create a new tradition: make our own Christmas cards! It’s fun, it’s a lot cheaper considering we already have all of the supplies and I feel like it’s a great way to show my daughter that we don’t need to spend money to show our love and appreciation to our friends and family members.

Decorating the Tree

Decorating for the holidays is a great way to spend an afternoon with family. I have so many fond memories of decorating with my family growing up that I really want to pass down this tradition to my daughter. So every year during the first weekend of December we put on Christmas music, make hot chocolate and decorate inside and out.


Every child I have ever met loves baking! Baking Christmas cookies, banana bread and cupcakes is a great tradition. Plus, you get to decorate and eat them afterwards! Or you can give them as a gift.


When trying to teach my daughter about the value of giving and not receiving, I realized that donating is a great way to do that. Since I don’t have a lot of money to share with others, volunteering is a fantastic way to give to others. I volunteer at the library a couple times a month and it was nice to be able to explain to my daughter why I do it. If you can afford to donate material goods such as food, toys or money, get your children involved! Even if it’s just something small like loose change or a couple of food items.

Christmas Eve

This tradition does involve a gift, but we do it every year. On Christmas Eve my daughter gets to open one present–new pajamas. Even though it’s not a fancy toy, or a movie she’s dying to own, it’s something she gets excited for every year. And on the morning of Christmas I know she will be wearing nice, clean pajamas for pictures. So this year we are going to focus on creating memories. We’re still going to give one another gifts, but I’m reducing the amount and just focusing on things I know my daughter really wants, because in the years ahead it won’t be the toys she got or the new clothes, it will be all of the fun we had that she remembers.


  1. It’s easy to get lost in the commercialization of the holidays. However, I definitely think that by focusing more traditions we can teach our children the true meaning of Christmas.

    • I agree! By focusing on traditions, it definitely shows the true meaning of Christmas a lot more than the commercialization part. It’s more personal and builds nicer memories.

  2. I agree creating special traditions is awesome … Now that my little girl is 5 we are breaking away from the whole “Santa Claus” (he brings 1 gift to good girls and boys) and learning that mommy works and she has to pay for our home, food, lights, water, etc and if there is anything left or if I was able to save without an emergency occurring throughout the year I will try to get her something special. We do however donate toys we no longer play with, we always pick a name from the tree in the mall, and baking cookies with a movie Christmas eve is our special time. One day I would love to do more but right now we appreciate each day for what it is.

    • Santa only brings one toy to each child in this house, too. It’s nice that you and your daughter choose a name from the tree to donate to. I remember my sisters, mom and I used to do that, too and it was always so much fun. It really makes children feel good to do nice things like that.