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Simple, Inexpensive Traditions to Make Holidays Feel Special

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I had 3 boys in 3.5 years, so for quite awhile, survival was the name of the game. I am practical and not at all extravagant, and I didn’t have the money, time or energy for extra traditions that would waste funds and stress me out, especially if my boys didn’t really care about them anyway.

So, for each holiday, except Christmas and birthdays, I would just do whatever I felt like, which worked fine. But, as I was reading Live Free Miranda, I was inspired. She has a very simple plan for each holiday, so the kids have an easy tradition to remember and look forward to. Plus, she can plan and shop in advance each year, which helps with planning and budget. I also like how her ideas can continue as kids get older or you have adult kids or grandchildren in your family, and there is still a little room for variety and change each  year.

I told my sister that I wish I had started with something like that! She reminded me that IT ISN’T TOO LATE! Most of us only remember life after about 12 years old anyway, so I shouldn’t write any good intention off. She is so right! Now I do have the energy to create something simple, useful, and memorable in our lives, so I am going to.

I asked for suggestions from friends and readers and got so many simple but awesome ideas, I wanted to put them all together. One thing everyone enjoys doing is dollar store paper goods for each holiday. Cheap and feels special! Add your ideas in the comments…this has been so much fun to explore all kinds of ideas and decide on our own!

BIRTHDAYS

  • a decorated room
  • a birthday sign with the # of things we love about them equal to their birthday year
  • birthday breakfast out with dad before school
  • birthday lunch with mom
  • king or queen for a day
  • a “favorites” questionnaire (linked HERE)
  • one on one dinner with mom and dad and then shopping for a birthday present (makes gift giving so easy!)
  • cake for breakfast
  • a printed Chatbook for each birthday
  • old photos on the table of the birthday girl or boy to bring back memories
  • birthday person chooses a family activity for the day

ANNIVERSARY

  • a family celebration day
  • watch mom and dad’s wedding video or look at the wedding album

NEW YEAR’S DAY

  • a picture slideshow of all the year’s fun (super easy from iphoto)
  • vision boards
  • goal setting
  • select a family theme (more info here)

MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY

  • fried chicken, pecan pie and a service activity

PRESIDENT’S DAY

  • make a cake for the Presidents
  • share cool facts about your favorite president

GROUNDHOG DAY

  • watch the movie, “Groundhog Day”
  • do a “white groundhog” gift exchange like a white elephant
  • do the exact same thing every year on February 2…make it your own family Groundhog Day
  • If the groundhog sees his shadow, do something to celebrate winter, and if he doesn’t do something to celebrate spring!

VALENTINE’S DAY

  • love note on a heart
  • heart attack on door
  • love mail for 14 days before
  • box of chocolates on pillows
  • family Valentine dinner
  • new book with a note inscribed from mom and dad
  • candy tackle box on the dinner table
  • family fondue dinner with candles and sparkling cider
  • Papa Murphy heart shaped pizza
  • giant heart shaped sugar cookies
  • heart attack for a neighbor
  • waffle bar dinner
  • red dinner
  • red velvet pancakes
  • Valentine’s shirt
  • flowers for the girls in the family
  • secret flowers for a single woman in your neighborhood
  • watch Enchanted
  • chocolate covered strawberries
  • secret cupid (idea via the 3 in 30 podcast)

LEAP DAY

  • everyone takes the day off, no school or work

PI DAY

  • chicken pot pie for dinner
  • a variety of pies for dessert
  • see who can memorize the most numbers of PI and give them a prize
  • out to dinner for a pizza (pi)
  • stop at a bakery for pie for dessert
  • make a pie for a neighbor

MARCH MADNESS

  • Create a family or friend bracket (details HERE)

ST. PATRICK’S DAY

  • lucky charms for breakfast
  • green dinner or green lunch
  • leprechaun footprints to new, colorful socks
  • rainbow themed dinner
  • gold coins
  • turn toilets and milk green
  • make a leprechaun trap

APRIL FOOL’S DAY

  • practical jokes
  • a dinner with only crazy utensils
  • a small gift hidden somewhere unexpected that they have to find
  • jokes in lunch boxes
  • a practical joke

PASSOVER

  • Jerusalem dinner

EASTER

  • new swimsuit
  • flip flops, sunglasses, bubbles, sidewalk chalk in the baskets
  • resurrection rolls
  • good Friday sunset hike
  • new church clothes
  • a religious gift
  • kites

MOTHER’S DAY

  • spa day provided by the kids
  • a one-on-one walk with each child
  • girl’s day out the Saturday before
  • new flowers for the garden
  • fill out the birthday questionnaire all on Mother’s Day…one on one time as a gift

FATHER’S DAY

  • a candy bar poster
  • massage from the whole family
  • photos of dad with all the kids from the year in a frame or Chatbook

MEMORIAL DAY

  • tell stories of family members who have passed on
  • visit the cemetery and place flowers on graves that look lonely
  • mail a letter or care package to a soldier
  • read a story about someone who has lost their life fighting for our country
  • bring a gift or treat to someone who has lost a family member in the military
  • send flowers to a family who has lost a son/daughter/mother/father in the service of our country

FLAG DAY

  • place dollar store flags in neighborhood yards

4TH OF JULY

  • water fight, shaving cream fight, or silly string fight
  • new, patriotic shirts
  • crepes with strawberries, blueberries, and whipped cream (red, white and blue)
  • a day on the lake or at the pool
  • small town parade
  • fireworks
  • BBQ or In-N-Out burgers

24TH OF JULY

  • sparklers
  • red, white and blue rice krispies
  • pioneer stories
  • pioneer games

BACK TO SCHOOL

  • back to school feast fancy-style
  • a favorites dinner…every child chooses one food that they love and you eat them all together
  • blessings from dad
  • theme for the year

LABOR DAY

  • a day of service

HALLOWEEN

  • ghost pancakes
  • white chocolate ghost suckers (linked HERE)
  • mummy dogs for dinner
  • family Halloween party the Monday before the holiday, make sure all costumes are ready, get photos, play games so Halloween night is smooth
  • the day of the dead to celebrate ancestors
  • chili and cornbread

VETERAN’S DAY

  • Write a letter or send a package to someone serving in the military
  • Ask a Veteran to tell you a story about their life
  • Visit a VA and bring treats or gifts
  • Take a treat or a gift to a Veteran in your neighborhood
  • Donate to a Veteran’s cause with your own money
  • Take a family movie night package to a family who has someone serving in the military

THANKSGIVING

  • grateful pig (linked here)
  • thankful leaf tree
  • turkey trot

CHRISTMAS

  • marshmallow snowball fight (linked here)
  • give a Christmas themed gift on December 1
  • 12 days of Christmas
  • shepherds dinner
  • holiday books wrapped for 12 days
  • sending Christmas cards and then mailing prizes for favorites
  • awards for the best lights in our neighborhood
  • the giving manger
  • secret pals
  • adventure/outing/travel gifts instead of presents
  • Luminaries in your neighborhood (linked here)
  • give gifts to the Amazon delivery people, police and firefighters

CHRISTMAS EVE

  • new ornament
  • new pajamas
  • sibling dollar store gift exchange (idea linked here)
  • sleep in a fort or next to the Christmas tree

CHRISTMAS DAY

  • pizza for dinner (easy and everyone loves it!)
  • open one gift every 20 minutes, unwrap, take it out and play with it first
  • jammies all day
  • special Christmas breakfast

NEW YEAR’S EVE

  • a toast at midnight
  • fondue
  • sparkling cider
  • game night
  • karaoke
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