I don’t think traditions have to be grand gestures to be meaningful parts of our little ones’ childhood.  In fact, I’m certain it’s actually their simplest forms that our children remember and look forward to the most. I think they are important because they give us that overwhelming joy and comfort that swells up inside our hearts; we know what to expect because it happened this time last year, and we know it means sweet time together, and that really is such a big beautiful element of this Christmas spirit we are all after.

Here are four traditions my littles and I have done together for the past few years; there’s something for play, something for decoration, something for the tree, and something to eat! These are all so simple, require very little effort or supplies, yet provide wonderful time together and also can be gifted to others to teach them the value in giving from the heart.

Peppermint Play-dough 

I used this recipe, doubled it, and I store it in a 32oz le parfait jar on the school table next to a muslin bag full of cookie cutters. It gets played with all throughout the day, and smells so good every time they open the jar!

Dried Orange Garland

Supplies: Citrus of any kind (we used naval oranges and cara cara’s because that’s what we have growing at home), twine, parchment paper

How to: slice the citrus very thin (my littles use their kitchen knives to help), place on parchment on baking sheets in a 200 degree oven for 3 hours, turn oven off, and leave in there overnight. The next day you can either string the slices on the twine, or I used tiny clothes pins.

Vegan Cranberry Orange Scones

for the scones:

2 cups flour

1 tables baking powder

1/4 cup cane sugar

pinch salt

2 stick of earth balance (cut into small pieces)

1 cup dried cranberries

zest of 1 orange

Combine first four ingredients, add earth balance and mix with hands to the consistency of sand, add cranberries and zest. Bring dough to a floured surface and form a round about an inch thick, Cut into eight triangles, place on parchment  and bake at 400 for about 20 minutes.

for the glaze:

combine orange juice and confectioners sugar and drizzle over cooled scones

Needle Felting

You can find the needle felting kit we have here. So this is more for ages 6 and up… Sullivan is 5 and he gets tired of it quickly. It is a longer process and really not extremely exciting, but perfect for Daphne and I to do as we chat. Basically you take a ball of wool, and then poke the needle through over and over again in the shape you would like. It takes about 30 minutes for the shapes to become firm and solid.  We have tried the hot water method and it didn’t work for us.  We plan to thread some string through the tops of ours to make ornaments.

We also love making salt dough ornaments, sending them to family and friends, and also visiting our nearby nursing home and handing them out there. This year we added a craft for gifts, and made some reusable beeswax wraps, and dairy-free peppermint hot coco mix in mason jars!

And of course reading books is always a wonderful way to spend time together; our favorites are Mortimor the Mouse, Bear Stays Up for Christmas, The First Christmas Night, and Splendiferous.

I hope you enjoy some of these simple joys with your children this Christmas season, and perhaps even make them into traditions of your own!