When I tell people I don’t “do Santa” with my kids I get mile-wide eye rolls about my alleged wokeness. My little people decide what to believe for themselves and I follow their lead. So instead I try and focus on what is most important to me…connection and fun with my friends and family without the emotional requirement of being “good” and the financial burden of spending money. Here are our favorite Winter Holiday traditions that are completely free!

RELATED READING :: To Lie or Not To Lie…In The Name of Santa?

Sleeping under the tree (or other seasonal source of light)

The author's son sleeps at the foot of their Christmas tree.

Sleep in heavenly peace.

I love this because it’s magical for all ages. Turn out all the lights in the house, read a book by lantern, fire, candle, or just twinkling light, then tuck in for the night. You can move little ones to their bed later, or big ones and adults can mosey off to bed at any point they choose. My son fights bedtime ferociously each night and this is one of the easiest ways to get him to sleep. Bonus points if you make up stories about their favorite imaginary characters that replay their day back with the desired resolution to the day’s dysregulated holiday woes.

Night strolls around the neighborhood

It gets dark so darn early that we are often wondering what in the world to do from 5PM-7PM. Recently we bundle them up tight and coax their booties into the double stroller to go out and see all of the beautiful decorations our neighbors put up.
Bonus points: If you have a range of age ranges in your family it works ages 2-72, whether family is visiting or you are visiting them.

Holiday sing-alongs

Queue up your favorite holiday song on your phone and either stream a sing along / karaoke version, or see if there is a sing along video. Use this as an excuse to share a memory from your own childhood, or hopes for the future. Austin has an amazing event to kick-off the season every year in the Holiday Downtown Stroll, or get with some friends and reach out to an assisted living facility to brighten up the residents’ day.

Making a hot beverage together

Everyone loves a hot beverage when it’s cold outside! You can make this into a hot tea or tisane, or of course a hot chocolate. Pour it into a thermos and go drink it outside to stretch those cold winter days out and turn it into an adventure. Or do this as the reward for braving the cold for some much needed outdoor time in between expected long days of screen time. You can layer this with other free crafts like cutting snowflakes (fine motor skill practice!) or anything else a quick google search turns up for you.

Video messages to friends or relatives

Technology makes it easier than ever to spread holiday cheer. Think of someone who is far away but close in your heart and record a video of you and your kiddos doing something silly. Use this as an excuse to tell some holiday jokes, record your earlier activities for virtual caroling, or share a recipe for that hot beverage. Just let your loved ones know that they are in your heart and share that love with your little ones. Spreading holiday cheer both far and near is a free holiday tradition that connects us to those we love.

What are your favorite ideas to focus on connection, community, and love in the holiday season? Any free holiday traditions?


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