Ask America’s Ultimate Experts
Our experts share sweet ideas that’ll fill your Christmas with more joy! Sharon Lovejoy is the author of 10 books including Camp Granny— winner of the Gold Award from National Parenting Publications Awards—filled with creative projects for kids. “My kids
“I started my favorite Christmas tradition 15 years ago—the golden thread,” says rituals expert Sharon Lovejoy. “I get each of my grandkids one special gift. Then I pick up golden thread, almost as thick as twine, at the crafts store, and tie the end of it to each present, winding the thread around the house, under books, around the sofa, etc. Each child has to follow his or her thread to find their gift hidden in the house, be it under a pile of quilts or in a storage basket in the bathroom. The parents love watching their kids’ faces light up as we all follow them follow their strings, and the kids always look forward to it— even the 15-year-old!” The golden moral of the golden thread? “Kids learn it’s not really about what’s at the end of the string that matters. It’s about the anticipation and the whole family coming together.”
Celebrate family history!
“Grandparents are in a unique position to give meaningful gifts,” says family rituals expert Sue Johnson. “Just pull out your son’s old truck, give it a fresh coat of paint and add a personalized license plate with your grandson’s name painted on it. Or make some new clothes for your daughter’s old doll, and give that doll to your granddaughter.” Another way to give from the heart? “We have a tradition of reading a different Christmas story with the whole family every Christmas Eve,” she reveals. “I’ve made a scrapbook of all these stories and will pass copies along to the next generation.”
Be inspired by your roots!
“Celebrate your heritage,” urges Johnson. “We have Swedish relatives, so every Christmas, we tell the story of how St. Lucia wore candles on her head so she’d have her hands free and could see at night while carrying food to those in need. Also in Sweden, each gift is personalized with a lighthearted poem that hints at the contents of the package. So for a friend who loves bath bombs, I might write, A little gift you can fit in your palm to fill up your bath with fizzy calm! Every culture has a special tradition. In Poland, for example, Christmas festivities start when the youngest child in the family sees the first star in the sky. Just check out your heritage for inspiring ideas!”
Send a round robin box!
Far from loved ones this Christmas? “Consider starting a ‘round robin box’—you fill it with favorite photos, say, of the past season, and send it to a loved one, asking her to add her photos and forward the box to the next family member,” explains Johnson. “You could also include ‘I love you because—’ statements or share memories of an earlier holiday when you were all together. The round robin box will go full circle around your family, making you all feel more connected even if you can’t be together in person.”