Stockings - we opened the stockings first, and put in toothbrushes. Toothbrushes always go in stockings! We did a couple other small things too like sunglasses, a small toy, and crayons. Baby Brother got a robot onesies and these sweet teething rings in his stocking. I always got an orange when I was little, so I may add that next year.
M&M car in his stocking.
Helping brother open his presents.
Yummy Breakfast - We did cinnamon rolls this year and they were great! I made them ahead of time and froze them. Just set them out the night before and pop them in the oven in the morning! I had our lunch and dinner made up ahead of time too.
Rainbow stacker for Baby Brother.
He takes his work very seriously.
Four Gifts - We tried to keep the gifting simple this year with just four gifts each (plus the small things in their stockings): something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. Baby Brother only got a couple things anyway, but it was SO hard to keep it narrowed down for Big Brother. In the end we really liked that they weren't overwhelmed with stuff. They were able to really enjoy the things they got, plus it helped keep our budget in check! We may go bigger with gifts on birthdays instead, but it felt nice to keep Christmas a little more grounded. Another idea I've heard is doing three gifts since Jesus got three gifts from the wisemen. I don't know if we'll keep this up every year since we'll probably play it by ear, but here's what our boys got this year:
- wooden animal tree house (DIY - plans coming soon!)
- bike helmet
- a hockey shirt (and Despicable Me undies, we cheated and picked two things to wear)
- High Five subscription
Checking out his new animal tree house.
Giving - We took Big Brother shopping to pick something out for Baby Brother and it ended up being really hard for him to choose something for someone else instead of himself. But what a great opportunity to learn and grow! In the end he finally decided on a set of cars (like the fire truck in the pic below) for his brother and actually loved wrapping it up... and then helping brother unwrap it on Christmas. We were so proud of him. We also made sure to wrap an extra gift "from Baby Brother" for him. It was a nerf "shooter gun" and he still tells us his favorite part of Christmas was "my shooter gun baby brother give to me." We'll definitely be letting them shop for each other again next year. We also had Big Brother pick out special wrapping paper (he picked Mater paper) and wrap up little presents for some of his friends.
New toys, new blanket, but he just wants brother's hockey shirt.
The Christmas Story - We hope to always keep the focus on Christ and what he's done for us. We use a scripture based Advent Calendar, read the Christmas Story together, attend Christmas Eve service, play with the nativity sets (we had a Joseph casualty but glued him back together), and did nativity based activities and crafts.
Opening the "shooter gun!" from Baby Brother.
Helping Grammy open presents.
My Mom's Group ladies had tons of great ideas that we might try at other times. Here were a few of my favorites:
- A Christmas Scrapbook - add Christmas photos & mementos each year and pull it out at Christmas time to reminisce.
- Go caroling at a nursing home.
- Giving Chain - make 24 slips of paper with things they can do for their family or community (cookies for neighbors, letter to grandma, hot drinks for bell ringers, clean brother's room, etc. brainstorm ideas together). Draw a slip each day and after you complete it add a link to the chain.
- Advent Stories - wrap 24 Christmas books. Unwrap one and read it each night.
- Memory Book - Before taking down the tree, have everyone write a paragraph in the book about the things they experienced, what they recieved, etc. Store it with the Christmas stuff and have fun revisiting it each year.
- Nativity - have only the animals in the nativity until the week of Christmas. Then start Mary & Joseph and move them closer each day until Christmas Eve. Baby Jesus joins the scene Christmas Day.
- Cards - as Christmas cards come collect them in a basket. Each day at supper pull one card, read it, and pray for the sender. Hang it up after you have prayed for them. Continue until you run out of cards.
- Drive Around to Look at Christmas Lights.
- Ornaments - get a small photo frame ornament for each child each year. Purchase a special ornament for each child showing their interests or hobbies (maybe for a tree in their room). When they move out they'll have a collection started.
- Baking - make Christmas cookies or a birthday cake for Jesus.
One for great grandpa.