Before I semi-retired from TV and the consumer lifestyle PR world, I used to host an annual holiday TV gift guide featuring some of my favorite toys, gadgets, and gifts.
It was really fun, but it was also a lot of work (especially that one year when I hopped on six red-eye flights to do these TV segments) and ultimately, it just felt out of alignment with my desire to celebrate peaceful holidays and the true meaning of the season, not all the consumption of the modern world.
Don’t get me wrong- I still LOVE promoting small, family-owned businesses. I just don’t love contributing to the stress, high expectations, and over-consumption of the Christmas season.
So, instead of doing the whole video production and media tour, this year I’m sharing some of my favorite small businesses that share my Christian values, give back to the community and children around the world, and also create beautiful products that encourage intentional, special celebrations. Hop over here to see my list of products/gifts from my favorite businesses that I personally bought this year. And if you’re looking for companies that will help create faith-filled family traditions… read on!
Here are 6 fun, faith-filled holiday traditions to celebrate the season.
Catholic Family Crates- Advent Crate
If you want an easy and beautiful Advent experience for your family, Catholic Family Crates creates a beautiful Advent box. It comes filled with everything you need to celebrate all the Holy Days of the season. They also offer monthly subscriptions that would make a great gift that gives all year long for families
The Giving Manger
The Giving Manger is a fun way to encourage acts of kindness leading up to Jesus’ birthday.
It includes a picture book and a wooden manager with a bundle of straw. My children love putting a piece of straw in the manager every time they do a good deed.
Though, be prepared for the most feeble attempts at kindness: “Mom, I gave Jane my half-eaten PB&J… can I put a straw in the manager?!”
I eventually have to set some good deed standards!
But slowly, the manager fills into a nice cushion for baby Jesus’ arrival.
The Wandering Wise Men
This is a new one I’m excited to add to our Advent celebration this year!
The Wandering Wise Men was created by my friends Eric and Meredith Schrotenboer, so I know just how much love and intention was poured into this project!
It started as a Kickstarter project, and this week we celebrated at the launch party and picked up our boxes – one for our family and a couple others I’m gifting to other family members.
It includes a storybook, a 37-day family devotional and three of the cutest wise men plush dolls you’ve ever seen!
It looks like we’ll be hiding all kinds of sweet Biblical friends around our house this season.
Mary on The Mantel
I discovered “Mary on The Mantel” last year, as an awesome Catholic alternative to Elf on the Shelf.
The popular Elf wasn’t a fit for me because 1) it looked exhausting (kudos to the creative parents who have the energy for all the fun set-ups!), and 2) I wanted to create traditions that truly celebrated the meaning behind Christmas, not focusing on the “naughty vs. nice” Santa Claus bit.
That’s when I discovered Be a Heart and this blog post about how some customers turned their adorable Mary doll into a tradition.
This year, they’ve launched an entire kit that includes add-ons to the Mary doll like a pregnancy bump and a ring sling with a baby Jesus. It also comes with a storybook and pre-created notes to suggest kind deeds.
It’s very similar to the Giving Manager tradition so we may just pick one of these to do this year. I’m still deciding on ordering a full kit or just using the Mary we already have. The full family dolls are pretty sweet too!
Last year I incorporated Mary on the Mantel with other fun traditions we do, like placing her with the Christmas pajamas and movie night surprises. She also popped up with good deeds for the girls to do, like filling a snack basket and creating thank you notes for our delivery drivers.
Blessed Is She Advent Journal
I enjoy getting a kid-friendly Advent devotional, and this year, I went with the Blessed Is She combo.
It comes with a devotional for adults and ones specifically for children.
I like the keepsake quality of the journals but can’t speak to the actual devotional quite yet. Last year I did a different family Advent that was fun and maybe I’ll rotate it in next year. It’s a nice tradition to read a verse while lighting the Advent candle at dinner each Sunday.
The Shepherd on The Search
I haven’t actually tried this one but wanted to include it as an option. I saw The Shepherd on The Search at my local Christian bookstore and thought it was adorable.
I’m happy with the traditions we already have and in the spirit of keeping things simple, manageable, and enjoyable, I’ll be sticking with just a couple of these fun ones each year.
In addition to the ideas above, some of my favorite holiday traditions include:
- Baking cookies- we wear special aprons and use cookie cutters from a sweet, belated great-grandma
- Watching all the Netflix and Amazon Christmas movies
- Cutting down a tree
- Decorating with a Nativity scene
- Wearing new Christmas pajamas
- Celebrating St. Nicholas day
- Drinking hot cocoa and looking at the lights in the neighborhood
- Burning seasonal candles & Advent candles
- Visiting the live Nativity at The Critter Barn
- Reading our favorite Christmas storybooks
- Making homemade ornaments for gifts
What are some of your favorite holiday traditions? I’d love to know! Share in the comments.
Wishing you and your family slow, joyous, and memory-making holidays!