As a special family tradition, give children a basket of wrapped Christmas books. Then open one book each night at bedtime from December 1 until Christmas.
Our son has an insatiable love of books, so when we came across the idea of opening one Christmas book per day between December 1 and Christmas we knew we should incorporate this tradition into our family festivities. Between Christmas books and winter/snow/penguin books, we had enough books to try this tradition last year for the first time and are incorporating some of our lessons learned as we do it for the second time this year.
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1. Wrap the Christmas Books Individually.
Both last year and this year when we introduced the Christmas book tradition to our book loving son on December 1, his face lit up with joy and anticipation when he saw the basket loaded with individually wrapped books. While it would be easier to just have the Christmas books unwrapped, it’s worth the effort to see his excitement. Wrapping the Christmas books also keeps him from picking through the basket to choose his favorites first. This year I toyed with the idea of creating fabric bags to “wrap” the books in an environmentally friendly reusable way, but decided that it’s hard to replace the childhood joy of ripping through wrapping paper.
2. Have Special Baskets for the Christmas Books.
When we started the tradition, I bought two identical red and white felt baskets trimmed with candy canes at Hobby Lobby. We have one basket filled with the wrapped Christmas books and we use the other to store the books once they’ve been unwrapped. Our son can look through all of the Christmas books over and over again once they are unwrapped, but keeping the books together in one place makes it easier to find them all at the end of the season. Displaying the books in special holiday baskets also creates a festive feel for the tradition and adds to our Christmas home decor.
3. Designate a Time and Place for the Christmas Books.
We keep the basket of wrapped Christmas books on the top of a bookshelf in our living room. At bedtime each night, we take the basket from the shelf and allow him to choose which one he wants to unwrap. As soon as he chooses a Christmas book, we put the basket of wrapped books back on top of the shelf until the next night. Doing so, keeps curious little hands from opening more than they should. We also find it’s helpful to set a rule that he can’t open one of the special Christmas books until he is wearing his pajamas and has brushed his teeth. This does wonders for the speed and ease of the bedtime routine for the month of December!
4. Put Christmas Books on Your Child’s Wish List.
The first year it was a stretch to find 25 Christmas books to use. It would be expensive to buy all those new books at one time. Thankfully, my mother-in-law is a retired elementary teacher so when our son was born we received numerous books leftover from her classroom. While there aren’t 25 Christmas books in the stash, there are plenty of books about winter, snow and penguins (my favorite animal), so we use those as part of the 25 books too. For Christmas we give our son a few Christmas books as gifts and also put them on his “wish list” for family members who wonder what he “needs” for Christmas. We will slowly replace the winter/snow/penguin books with Christmas ones as we receive them.
Though we’re only in our second year of this tradition, we’re starting to have favorites. Last year, he received The Polar Express as a gift, so we’re looking forward to reading that book this Christmas season. Our favorite Christmas books, though are anything by Tomie dePaola or Jan Brett. Both of these authors write and illustrate their own books. The illustrations are absolutely beautiful which make the books really feel like a special gift when you open them. This year, we’re also adding Max Lucado’s Itsy Bitsy Christmas: You’re Never Too Little for His Love to the roster as we especially love to include creative stories that incorporate the story of Jesus’ birth.
5. After the Holidays, Hide the Christmas Books.
In January, when we take down the Christmas decorations from the season, we also hide away the Christmas books we opened throughout December. This gives eleven months to forget about the books so that when December 1 rolls around again the books feel fresh and new again. Now if I’m really organized, I should actually wrap the Christmas books as I put them into storage after the holidays so they’d be ready to go for next Christmas!
Do you have a special family tradition involving Christmas books? If so, we’d love to hear what your favorites are so we can add them to our tradition for next year!
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