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Family Holiday Tradition: The 12 Days of Christmas

Family Holiday Tradition: The 12 Days of Christmas

For those of you that celebrate Christmas, how do you help your children get excited about the holiday? When it came to gearing up for the big day, one of our fellow Bright Horizons employees, Patti, knew she wanted to do something special for the family’s newest addition, granddaughter, Evelyn Rose. Inspired by an idea she saw on Pinterest, Patti decided to start The 12 Days of Christmas this year:

“Evelyn Rose is the only grandchild on both sides of the family so the holiday focus is on her. Oh what love she brings to us! Beginning on December 13, Evelyn receives one gift every night from Gigi and Grampy. The cards read “On the XXXst day of Christmas, G & G gave to me…” and includes a hint on what is inside. (The gift of music, for example.) The presents include books, toys, pjs, teethers, and even a dress to visit Santa. It’s not about the price of the item, it’s more about the fun in prolonging the joy of gift giving and building anticipation for the big day. Our daughter sends us photos of her opening each present so we can enjoy her reactions. The cards will be kept and as she gets older, she can write on the back of each card, what the gift was.”

Whether you’re a parent or grandparent (or aunt or uncle!) that would like to celebrate the season with The 12 Days of Christmas, the following are some more ways you can start this tradition with your family:

Make The 12 Days All About Reading: A few Christmas seasons ago blogger Kate was inspired to create a book Advent calendar for her son, Liam; the same idea can be applied here. As Kate did for her Advent calendar, the 12 books for this tradition can be a mix of old and new; seasonal favorites your child might have forgotten about since last Christmas or Xmas-themed reads that are borrowed from the library. For grandparents, you might make and send a recording of yourselves reading a Christmas story or poem (like The Night Before Christmas!). It’s a memory your grandchild is sure to treasure for years to come.

Go Homemade: DIY gifts are equally as special as store-bought ones. A treasure box is a great present that a child can use to store the fun items they find. You don’t have to be especially crafty to create one; the treasure box can be made out of a small box, tin or glasses case you already own and decorated with a few stickers or adornments from your local craft store.

12 Days of Christmas

Help Start His or Her First Collection: You can help your child or grandchild develop their sorting skills by helping them start their first collection. Any small items such as stones, shells, stamps, figurines or foreign coins and currency are good ways to start this hobby.

Give an “Experience”: Make one of the gifts you give during The 12 days an activity you can do together; give a card or a coupon for a fun outing such as an afternoon learning to bake bread or a trip to the movies or to the children’s museum. This “experience” could also be an afternoon spent giving back.

Share Special Stories: For children who are older, give them a keepsake such as a copy of a photograph of their mother or father at Christmas when he or she was the child’s age. Tell them all about a special Christmas memory you shared with their parent back then.

One aspect to note, depending on the dynamics of your family, it can be helpful to talk about gift giving with your grandchild’s (or niece or nephew’s) parents. That way you’re all on the same page and can coordinate on the types of presents that would be well received. New mom Laura shares some great tips on how she navigated gift giving in a recent post here.

The 12 Days of Christmas is just one way to bring your family closer together over the holidays. How does your family get in the Christmas spirit?


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