As we all know the year 2020 has been . . . less than ideal. The holiday season is fast approaching and we could all use a little bit of extra holiday cheer to help lift our spirits.

Here are some of my favorite simple Christmas traditions I do with my family that you could start with yours as well.

Bake Cookies

This one is a tradition that began way before I was even born. My mother and aunts would always bake plenty of different types of Christmas cookies with my cousins, sister, and I. Then when we were finished baking we would make different trays up to give to our neighbors and loved ones. Now I bake cookies with my sons. If your little ones are extra little, bake the cookies and then have them decorate a couple with icing and sprinkles just for them.

My favorite part about baking cookies is giving cookies to our neighbors. It displays what the holidays mean to us. It displays the spirit of love and giving. Let’s be honest, we can use all the love and giving this year. If you’re concerned about the spread of COVID-19, just share the cookies with those you’ve already been in contact with.

Try Grandma Eulalia’s Christmas cookies!

Toy Donations

Going along with the spirit of giving, every year we have our 6-year-old pack up toys he no longer wants to donate. This serves two purposes. One, it helps my children understand the importance of giving, and two, it helps clear out space for new gifts my children may receive from Santa. My 1-year-old will participate in donations this year as well. Mainly because we no longer need his infant toys. Cue mama tears.

Blessing Bags

Last year my family and I made Blessing Bags with the help of our community. We gathered at the local library and each family donated a specific amount of toiletry items. These items are helpful for homeless and low-income individuals. Once we made up all the bags, we donated them to a local church that gives back to the homeless community. I’ve done this in years past as well. Each time it gives me a feeling of hope and joy for mankind. If you’ve been feeling defeated and down due to current events and the pandemic, try giving back and making a difference. Focus on the good and good feelings will follow.

This is what the angels on those trees really need.

DIY Ornaments

Every year my kids and I make Christmas ornaments to give to family and friends as part of their presents. We also make a set to hang on our tree. I love seeing all of our ornaments from years past. Each ornament holds precious memories from that year. Most family members tell us how much they love putting up the boys’ ornaments every year.

Christmas Lights

Christmas isn’t Christmas without Christmas lights. We love driving around the neighborhood and checking out different displays. We also love to visit areas that have exceptional displays. There is something so special about all of those colorful lights and inflatables.

The Polar Express Hot Chocolate Pajama Day

The Polar Express book, the movie, cozy pajamas, and hot chocolate. There is something so special and magical about The Polar Express. Its sole focus is on believing. We could all use a little belief and hope right now. To take this adventure to the next level, get cardboard boxes and let your kids create their own Polar Express train to sit in during the movie. Let those creative juices flow, all in the spirit of believing.

Christmas Costume Day

Dress up in a Christmas costume or shirt. Have a day filled with Christmas movies, Christmas themed foods and crafts. Set up a photo booth. The whole family will love this new tradition. It’s a way to be creative and festive without having to go out of the house.

Christmas Movie Marathon

I look forward to watching the classics with my kids. One of my favorite classics is the 1970 movie, Santa Claus is Coming to Town. I love how the story explains how Santa became Santa. However, my all-time favorite Christmas movie is Elf. If you haven’t seen Elf, where have you been the last two decades? Anyway, make a list and have a marathon! I usually decorate the house with my husband and kids during the movie marathon. Can you say, multitask like a mom?

Try one of our top 10 Christmas movies to watch with your teens! 

Christmas Karaoke

Listen, if you haven’t belted out Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” at least once every Christmas season, then you aren’t really celebrating the holidays. Christmas karaoke for the family is a fun tradition to start this year. With so many streaming apps and YouTube, you can easily set up karaoke versions of your favorite Christmas songs to be sung by the whole family. After all, “the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing Lois for all to hear,” Buddy the Elf knows all about Christmas cheer and traditions.

Chocolate Milk and Cinnamon Buns on Christmas Morning

This is my husband’s tradition that he had with his family, and we have since been doing with ours. It’s something to look forward to right before, during, and after opening presents. My older son looks forward to it every Christmas morning. Sometimes I sneak in snowman pancakes, too. It depends on how hungry everyone is.

I hope some of my traditions make their way into your homes in order to brighten your spirits this season. Enjoy these ideas, from my family to yours.

Dear Christmas, we need you now more than ever.

Holly Dignen

Holly Dignen is a Stay-At-Home Mom of two boys. She is also one of three Kid's Event Chairpersons for her neighborhood community. She has her Master's degree in Elementary Education and several years of teaching under her belt. When she isn't spending time with her beautiful family, she is volunteering or writing.