Easy Christmas traditions with kids, even when you’re exhausted

easy-christmas-traditions-with-kids-even-when-youre-exhausted-2I love the idea of Christmas traditions. Something you get to look forward to each year and to enjoy as a family.

But I find by the end of the year, everyone is so exhausted, I don’t want to make plans for huge, amazing things as I know we’ll all just be a) too tired b) too busy, or c) don’t care because of a) and b). But there are a few things we have managed to start and continue as a family tradition.

Make gingerbread. I have loved gingerbread for as long as I can remember. My parents have photos of me from when I was a toddler, with gingerbread biscuits smooshed all over my face. I now have the exact same photos of my kids! This Christmas tradition started when my eldest was only a few months old. A girlfriend and I decided to make a Christmas tree out of gingerbread stars stacked on top of each other, whilst we were both severely sleep deprived thanks to both having new bubs. What were we thinking?!


Image credit: taste.com.au

To cut a long story short, it took about 6 hours, we absolutely trashed her kitchen and we totally underestimated how many gingerbread stars we would need to make to make three Christmas trees. They did end up looking amazing, but we swore that we’d never make gingerbread Christmas trees again.

The following year I bought a DIY kit for a gingerbread house. Total candidate for one of the “nailed it” categories of Pinterest fails… That is what happens when you let a one year old help to put icing on a gingerbread house…


Now we just make gingerbread biscuits. Nice and simple. We still bake them on Christmas Eve and leave one for Santa, and then enjoy the rest with friends and family. I have learnt that in order to relax a bit more, it’s best to go with Betty Crocker’s gingerbread biscuit mix that is available in supermarkets at this time of year. Take away the pressure, and the recipe is no fail. Not sponsored, just a community service announcement πŸ™‚

We’re not an overly religious family, but we do focus on gratitude and kindness, even more so at Christmas. Each year we donate to local charities, particularly those focusing on families. From about October, our eldest starts asking about when are we going to “do the wishing tree” πŸ™‚ We go to the shops and he selects a gift he thinks someone his age would like to receive, and then we buy it and put it under the Wishing Tree. We love this special appeal as Kmart works with Mission Australia and The Salvation Army to ensure that the gifts are distributed to where they are needed.

A fun tradition we have started is the Elf on the Shelf. Now, I realise this drives some parents absolutely bat-shit crazy, but I personally love it! I also see it as a sneaky behaviour modification tool in the lead up to Christmas. Why end up feeling like you sound like a broken record when the Elf can help? Our Elf flies in for lightning visits and reports back to Santa about if the kids are being nice to each other, remembering to brush their teeth, and eating their fruit in their lunch box.


We haven’t fully embraced the all-out elaborate set ups that some parents do, but our Elf has been found playing Hungry Hungry Hippos with Buzz Lightyear and Humpty Dumpty, been caught stealing a Transformer robot’s leg, building Lego, and been found hanging upside down from a ceiling fan. There are plenty of dedicated Facebook pages and websites all about elaborate Elf on the Shelf antic, some are absolutely hilarious! We have found though that we need to set an alarm on our phone to remind us to move the Elf before we go to bed!

I love these traditions as they don’t put a lot of pressure on us, especially me being a perfectionist, but they do make the end of year feel a bit more special.

Do you have any Christmas traditions with your family?
Does the Elf on the Shelf drive you bat-shit crazy?

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20 thoughts on “Easy Christmas traditions with kids, even when you’re exhausted

  1. I love making iced sugar cookies (I make buttercream icing… mmmm). Last year only my four year old helped because I ended up making them during the week while the oldest and his mom were at school. This year I’ll wait until Christmas break starts so they both can help. I love the Elf! We had one (named Woody) until our youngest was oldest enough to understand what Woody was doing. Woody brought a friend that year, Elfis. This will be our 5th year with Woody and 3rd with Elfish. They have been known to do silly stuff, hide in silly places, and make a a few messes. We love them! I got a new camera for my birthday back in August (GoPro) so I have a hunch they’ll play with that at some point πŸ˜€


      1. I’m always curious about which of our traditions the boys will grow up remembering and carrying on with their own families. I was just asked by our oldest if I’ll make cinnamon rolls Christmas morning. Yep. That’s our breakfast while we open gifts because there’s no way the kids are eating before gifts are opened! I hope they carry on the elf tradition, too. I know some people hate them, but I enjoy them and come Christmas Eve I’ve a touch of sadness the same as the kids knowing they’re not coming back until next year.


      2. I’m always curious to know what traditions the boys will carry on with their own families when they grow up. I was just asked this morning if I’ll make cinnamon rolls Christmas morning. Yep, I will (Thanks to Pilsbury). I know the kids won’t eat breakfast before gifts are opened so I make those to eat while we’re opening. As for the elves, I know some people hate them. I love ’em. They normally hide together. And I get a touch of sadness, the same as the kids, every Christmas Eve knowing they won’t be back until next year πŸ™‚


  2. I totally agree with limiting Christmas tradition so you can actually enjoy them with your family, not just rush through them for the sake of it. Our family also has an Elf on the Shelf and my kids can’t wait for him to arrive soon! We also love making gingerbread on Christmas Eve. Yum!


  3. Love this article Em. πŸ™‚ I remember that first time we made the tree… lol what a marathon! Im going to do it again this year… Ill send you a pic and let you know how long it takes and what mess we make. πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I just explained the wishing tree idea to Miss 3 the other day – I think that’s a really important lesson to teach early on. Not sure if we’re ready to start elf on the shelf just yet!


  5. We’re starting one this weekend – putting up the tree! Well, that’s the plan if I can get over letting my tornadoes put the decorations wherever they want! We also do acts of kindness throughout December (including the excellent Wishing Tree). Just so the kids understand it’s not about “me me me”! I like the idea of baking gingerbread- will have to give that a go xx


  6. We get the frozen gingerbread from ikea and they play with it like play doh and then we cook it and make the house smell nice and then they eat 1 piece and we chuck it in the bin a week later. I kind of love that new tradition cos it’s kooky


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