Now that Christmas is less than six months away do you find yourself getting stressed just thinking about it? I use to let the whole commercial part of it overwhelm the fun part of Christmas. After all, Christmas is supposed to be a time of family, fun and relaxation. All too often we forget that.
Years ago as a family we decided to simplify Christmas. Actually it was after one Christmas when I made up a strange game for my nieces and nephews to play, everyone had gone home and I got a phone call from one of my nephews, who was a high school student at the time, he suggested that we don’t do presents anymore for Christmas just play games and do the booklets.
The booklets were already an established part of our Christmas Eve celebration. I wrote about them in a previous post. As the kids got older I tried to come up with games for them to play. We played checkers using a quilt top as the game board and the kids as the checkers. We tied red or black yarn around their arms and they moved across the quilt just as you would on a checker board. If someone was kinged they got a piece of yellow yarn tied around their arm also.
The next year using the same quilt top, I used yarn and masking tape and made a “Snakes and Ladders” game. Both were big hits because all ages could play. Some of the games I came up with didn’t work but it was fun trying them anyway.
Over time the games that endured were any game involved hiding things. Over the years we’ve hidden everything we could think of. I had a bunch of small wooden oblong shapes cut for me. I was thinking maybe a dozen or so but my brother cut me 150 of them. I printed up Christmas pictures from different clip arts and glued them to the boards. One year I printed up a large picture, glued it to the boards and cut them apart and made a large jigsaw puzzle out of it. The one smart thing I did was I numbered all the blocks so we would know if they had all been found. We still hide them every year. Some member of my family never give up until the last one is accounted for. We hide some easy ones for the little kids and some in harder places for the older ones.
Another popular game we play is, what the little ones call the stealing game. We make up a bunch of small gifts, candy, ornaments, whatever, the more the better. All the wrapped packages are put in the middle of the floor and we sit in a circle and pass a special dice around. I had painted a small wooden block. One side has a package on it, when you roll that one you take a package from the middle pile. One side has a Grinch painted on it, when you roll him you steal a package from someone. We also have a symbol for giving one away, the other sides just have random Christmas pictures on them. If you aren’t comfortable painting, you could glue pictures on the block to represent what you want. My ten year old great nephew likes the game so much he will often ask to play it just using candy from the candy dish. After all the candy is gone from the middle, he gathers it all up from everyone and puts it back in the middle so we can keep playing.
After we started playing the different games that I made up we also quit giving gifts to everyone. Now we just exchange Christmas ornaments, especially for the younger ones. All my nieces and nephews had enough ornaments by the time they went on their own to decorate a medium size tree. I wish someone had given me ornaments when I was young, when I moved out on my own I ended up stringing popcorn to decorate with. I couldn’t afford to buy enough ornaments. I would buy one or two each year but that was all I could afford.
These are just a few ideas that we do that have made our Christmases a lot more fun and stress free. Hope you enjoyed the ideas and have fun coming with your own ideas for an easy fun filled Christmas.