Let me just start out by saying there was some science behind figuring out the winner of DALS’ First Annual Holiday Ritual Contest. I poured through the 50+ submissions (thank you everyone!), selected my favorites, then read each finalist aloud to my daughters — separately, so they couldn’t influence each other. They were responsible for grading each submission, with A+ being roughly equal to “A Ritual I Really Really Want You To Start Right Away Mom, OK?” (See scorecard above.) I’m pleased to announce that this year, this honor is bestowed upon Carrie W. who, like many of us, makes a batch of gingerbread cookies every year, but goes the extra step and decorates them to look like the neighbors and family friends who will be receiving them. I think the idea of making a cookie version of Aunt Patty and Minty Pea Todd was too fun for my decidedly sweet-toothed panel to pass up. I do encourage you to read all the rituals that were submitted — the four runners-up below, as well as those in the comment fields and on the DALS facebook page. Just because they didn’t make the cut doesn’t mean they aren’t all in their own way kinda magical.
Carrie wins a $75 gift certificate to CSN stores and Christina, Katie, Randi, and J.J. take home my MDNW bumper sticker. Which — stocking stuffer alert!!! — will be on sale right here on DALS in the next few weeks. Stay tuned!
Make a Holiday Card Placemat After Christmas, we take all the holiday cards with everyone’s pictures, cut them up, and make a mosaic. Then we add decorations, sparkles, the year, etc, laminate it, and turn it into a placemat. We usually get enough cards so that each of my two kids can make their own. The placemats get packed up with the decorations, so it’s really special to take them out each year and the kids love to compare the current holiday pictures with previous years. I wish I could say this was my idea — I got it from a much craftier friend of mine — but now it’s become a favorite tradition for us. — Christina
Tell Mrs. Claus to Stop By! This is a ritual I adopted from my stepmom: every Christmas Eve Mrs. Claus pays a visit to our house, leaving a new pair of pajamas (or slippers, or something sleep-related) for all the inhabitants. — Randi
DIY Advent Calendar When my daughter was two, I painted 24 boxes for our mantle and placed number stickers on each one for the 24 days before Christmas. In each one is a small treasure, or a note about a fun activity we’ll do that day, like watch Charlie Brown or have hot cocoa for breakfast. The joy that we see on her face when she comes downstairs on December 1st is worth all of the work of filling up the boxes and figuring the whole thing out. And this year, her 2-year old brother will be old enough to be excited about it, too! — JJ from sixthirtyseven
Celebrate “Christmas Adam” My parents separated, and ultimately divorced, when I was ten. And I think that first Christmas morning was one of the most painful days for us and for my father. By the second Christmas we developed a new tradition. My brother and I spent the night of December 23rd at my father’s house and woke up Christmas Eve morning to open presents and spend the day together as if it was Christmas. Then later that day we went to my mother’s house and started our Christmas celebration there. We called the night before Christmas Eve Christmas Adam. We still call each other on Christmas Adam. I’m so grateful that now my family lives under one roof. But I always think of divorced families at this time of year and I haven’t heard of a better way to capture that otherwise missed special time. –Katie