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Tonkin Christmas Traditions

Welcome to our family blog site!
When thinking back to my childhood memories, it isn’t so much the gifts I  remember most about the Christmas season, it’s the experiences.
During Christmas one of our favorite traditions we do is called the “Countdown to  Christmas”. We count down the days by doing daily different holiday activities. A few examples are: decorate a tree, make cookies, sing at an assisted living home, ice skating, Christmas crafts, movie night, serve sparkling cider for dinner etc. Many of these are activities you already do with your families. We are just creating a little more Christmas excitement.
“COUNTDOWN to CHRISTMAS”

Every family celebrates Christmas differently.
What are your family’s traditions for celebrating Christmas?

It is so fun having children and developing Christmas traditions. With Zachary now 8 and Alexis 6  we now have lots of traditions in place.

A few of our traditions include. Setting up the tree and getting all our Christmas music out two weeks before Thanksgiving. Alright last year it was the week after Halloween. We were so excited! We know that most people think this is a bit early but we just love the ambiance that the tree and music bring. Each year we purchase a new singing animated toy or music box etc.. The kids never get tired of these. We also have a big countdown calendar that has a pocket for each day. We put a note in each pocket and each morning the kids pull the note and see what festive thing we have planned for that day.

We also really want to focus on teaching our children that Christmas or life in general is not all about them and when they can get.  We so desire them to grow in blessing others and also focus one being thankful. We do this buy trying to bring a focus on serving others. We so far serve others by visiting a assisted living home, serving food at the Angel tree banquet, bring a meal to someone in need. We also have made up lunch bags of food to hand out with hot coco and blankets to the homeless. We have also tried to notice the fantastic service of waitresses, grocery store checkers and any other service worker. When we get amazing service from someone we try and gift them with a small token gift , and a card. We like to do this sometimes without them knowing. We also like to do the same thing on the flip side. When we see a employee that is having a bad day, or bad attitude etc… then we also try to gift them with a card and word of encouragement. We also try and think of things to do for friends, family members, and people who give serve in the church or elsewhere.  If any of you have any other great ideas then please send them to us.

Below are 40 ideas to make this season fun for your family!
Read and see how they work for us at this link http://tonkinhouse.com/?cat=5&paged=5   or search for Christmas on my site

Fun ideas to do at Christmas time

  1. Make gingerbread houses with friends and family
  2. Have a Christmas movie night with Kettle popcorn. Watch your favorite Christmas movie together. My personal favorites are “ELF” and “It’s a Wonderful Life”.
  3. Drive around your neighborhood to see houses decorated with lights for Christmas.
  4. See a musical or a live theater production
  5. Christmas caroling (to an assisted living home, children hospital, or even just your neighbors.)
  6. Plan a Christmas party and gift exchange.
  7. Bake your favorite Christmas dessert with family and friends.
  8. Game night: invite people over to play games and eat dessert (love gestures, moods, charades and catch phrase!)
  9. Each day start your morning by writing something you are thankful for and placing the note in a box. On Thanksgiving and on Christmas you can share what you and everyone wrote.
  10. Christmas shopping and go out for donuts and hot coco and coffee.
  11. Visit Moody Gardens to see lights and watch Polar Express on Imax! http://www.moodygardens.org/seasonal_fun/festival_of_lights/
  12. Ice Skating   $2.00 coupon – http://www.thewoodlandscvb.com/woodlandsicerink/
  13. Make a Christmas castle or igloo with sugar cubes and cookie decorations! This one the kids will love!!!
  14. Go see the lighting of the Christmas Tree in downtown Houston or in The Woodlands. http://www.thewoodlandscvb.com/LOTD/ or http://www.uptown-houston.com/about/events/upcoming.html
  15. Read a Christmas story to your kids.
  16. Have a Christmas countdown calendar that makes each day special! (this one is one of our favorites! Click on the categories Christmas to see how this works.)
  17. Make cookies and gifts for others and drop them off at people’s homes.
  18. Make a few cute elf yourself videos http://www.elfyourself.com/ or http://sendables.jibjab.com/
  19. Play Christmas music the whole month of December, or if you are like me, from November 1st on..
  20. Go visit Santa Town http://www.santas-wonderland.com/main.htm WE love this one!
  21. Sponsor a needy child, family, or elderly person for Christmas. Let your child help select the gifts.
  22. Bring blankets and hot coco to the homeless.
  23. Message from Santa – my kids don’t think Santa is real but they still have fun with this! http://www.portablenorthpole.tv/home
  24. PJ day! Give a new pair of PJ’s to the family and wear them early in the day or all day! Take a PJ photo.
  25. Eat dinner by the tree picnic style! We also like eating our morning cereal by the tree.
  26. If you like having a real Christmas tree, take your family to a tree farm and pick out that “perfect” tree together. http://www.oldtimechristmastree.com/ this farm is in Spring Texas!
  27. Set aside a specific time each year to decorate the Christmas tree. Enjoy some hot chocolate while you string popcorn and cranberries and make gingerbread or sugar cookies to hang for an old fashioned look. Set aside a whole day of uninterrupted time for making memories.
  28. Make a special ornament each year for each child. Include somewhere on the ornament the child’s name and the year. These ornaments can be passed on to the children when they marry.
  29. Visit a church that has a live nativity.
  30. Have a snowball fight but with all the socks in your house. Roll them up in balls and get on two teams and have at it. It is fun and does not hurt.
  31. Serve hot cider or sparkling apple cider with dinner a few nights a week.
  32. Go visit Santa for a photo at Chick-fil-a http://www.cfarestaurant.com/lakehouston/events#
  33. Let your kids decorate their bedrooms with Christmas lights and a mini tree!
  34. Play video games with your kids.Wii Night!
  35. Give to others – Serve food at the Angel Tree banquet.
  36. Visit Old Town Spring – it is decorated so cute and with all the cute stores it creates a fun Christmas atmosphere for an afternoon.
  37. Wrap gifts WITH YOUR KIDS they love to help!
  38. See the Crazy Christmas show at Second Baptist – fun puppet show for kids of all ages! Free
  39. Visit The Chocolate Bar – http://www.theoriginalchocolatebar.com/ Great lights in the same area!
  40. Have a Happy Birthday Jesus party for your kids, friends and neighborhood children.
  41. Just remember to make each day special and to truly remember that JESUS is the reason for this wonderful season.
That is how we do ours but here is a link for many other countdown calandar ideas http://www.parents.com/holiday/?sssdmh=dm17.552535&day=64&esrc=nwprnts100days11_2_day64_111811&email=3004959528

Here are a few photos to give an example of how we run our “Countdown to Christmas.” This is our 5th year doing it this way and boy do our kids love it. They have been waiting for it to start for over a month now.

We start the day after Thanksgiving. Then end on Christmas eve. Each morning at before breakfast the kids go to the “countdown calendar and pull a note from the corresponding day. The note reads what the special day will hold. Sometimes the festivity are big and sometimes it is very small but they are happy for them all. Each year I type up the little notes as seen below. Then I cut fold and place in the countdown calendar. If you do not have a countdown calendar then there are many options you can use. we first started with a special Christmas chest and each morning I would place the note it the chest. You could also wrap individual  jewelry boxes with notes in it, or Hang little envelopes on a garland. Ideas are endless.

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