New Christmas Traditions:
Making Christmas more meaningful:
As a young mom, I thought starting Christmas traditions took
painstaking preparation. Then I heard my daughter announce to
friends, “My family always does this at Christmas.” I don’t remember
the activity but, whatever is was, we had done it exactly once
the previous Christmas. In her mind, it was a tradition. And she
relished the idea of doing it again!
Here are some ideas you might like try in your family:
A Bag of “Gold” from St. Nicholas: The spirit of giving
On Christmas morning, what child would not be happy to find a
bag of gold in the toe of their stocking? In The Secret of St.
Nicholas children learn that St. Nicholas gave bags of gold to save
three girls from slavery. Receiving a bag of gold reminds them how
the Christmas stocking tradition began as an act of compassion.
Mesh bags of gold foil-covered chocolate coins are available in
stores during the holiday season. Or sew a drawstring bag for
the coins, to be reused each year. In the past, an orange was
often put in children's stockings, and it can be used as a
reminder of St. Nicholas' bag of gold too.
A Stocking for St. Nicholas: So simple
When your family hangs their Christmas stockings, gather and
read The Secret of St. Nicholas. Then hang your stockings. This
adds meaning to and makes a tradition of what usually would be
only a decorating chore.
Preparing the Manger: Doing good deeds in secret
Start with an empty “manger.” This can be a small basket or
cardboard box with popsicle stick legs. Rustic is good. Nearby,
place a container with straw, which will be bedding for the
manger. During Advent or beginning on December 1st, children can
put a piece of straw into the manger each time they do a good
deed in secret. A good deed can be as simple as picking up a toy
without being asked or feeding a pet. This can be fun for kids when
a lot of guessing goes on as family members are on the lookout
and try to figure out what deeds are being done. Parents can
express surprise over the smallest deed. How did this happen?
How did this get here? By the time Christmas arrives, children
have prepared a soft bed for the baby Jesus.
Do Good Deeds in Secret: A whole family activity
Have a family meeting and decide on a good deed you will do in
secret for a relative, neighbor, or friend. Many community
charities provide opportunities for giving anonymously at
Celebrate the Feast Day of St. Nicholas: Make December 6th
Celebrate the feast day of St. Nicholas by trying to surprise
family members with a secret good deed. This is not a gift
exchange but a favor--no matter how small, such as wiping up a
spill on the floor or emptying a trash can. At the dinner table
or at bedtime, try to figure out what deeds were done. For other
feast day ideas, see
Continue to Fight Slavery as St. Nicholas did: Donate to a
modern anti-slavery cause.