When my sons were one and three, we were living with my parents. It was the first Christmas after my divorce and it looked nothing like the Christmases I always imagined. It was easy to feel sorry for myself. The advice I kept hearing was, “Create your own traditions!” But single parent Christmas traditions aren’t all that easy to come by and are even harder to keep up.
Even Christmas countdowns are tough. Since my kids are only with me for half of their time, I find myself opening half the Advent calendar doors (and yes, eating the mediocre chocolate) myself. So I’ve brainstormed some ideas to help us all out. Here are 12 Christmas traditions that single moms can totally pull off.
1. Have a camp out under the Christmas tree.
As an adult, I’m sure you thought your days of sleeping on the floor were long behind you. But your kids will think it’s so cool to curl up with you in a sleeping bag and fall asleep under the glow of the tree with It’s a Wonderful Life playing in the background.
2. Hot cocoa and a Christmas light tour is a must-do.
Make your cocoa, grab a few thermoses, and pick the neighborhood known for its over-the-top displays. Let the kids make a Christmas playlist for the drive. Take it up a notch with Santa hats and your car will be bursting with Christmas cheer.
3. Read the story of the birth of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke.
Chapter two is the one that will give you all the warm and fuzzy Christmas feelings. So gather ’round and read it on Christmas Eve or anytime the week before the 25th.
4. Let the kids pick out ornaments for each other.
Every year, I take my sons to the store and let them pick out an ornament that suits the other. It’s always interesting to see what they choose! I put initials on the bottom so they can take these when they have their own family.
We all want the joy of Christmas to last a little longer, especially when there are fewer presents under the tree. So pick a gift and make the kids hunt for it with iMOM’s Christmas Scavenger Hunt!
6. Volunteer or shop for a food bank together.
The kids may moan and groan, but they will always be glad after spending some time helping people during the holidays. This could be the most impactful of all the single parent Christmas traditions.
The kids may moan and groan, but they will always be glad after spending some time helping people during the holidays.
7. Do a drug store dash.
This is a great way to encourage your kids to think of their siblings when you have a limited budget. Give them $10 and allow them to chip in what they can. Then take a trip to the drug store and challenge them to come up with the best and most fitting gift for their brother or sister. If you have several kids, they can draw names.
8. Find your town’s hokey Christmas event.
We have a Christmas event in town that is so bad it’s good. I’m talking mannequins dressed like elves, turn of the century carolers, indoor snow that gets your clothes wet. Support your town’s hokey Christmas and laugh with your kids.
9. Have a cheap-o dinner.
When your time with your kids is limited, the last thing you want to do is spend the whole day cooking or driving from house to house eating multiple meals. Find an inexpensive place like Waffle House or IHOP and make it a holiday tradition. Leave a big tip if you can.
Christmas is a great time to slow down and just cuddle on the couch with a story. Pick one of these 10 Great Christmas Stories and read it with a cup of hot chocolate or cider.
11. Have a cookie baking contest.
I’m not a baker, but I always get an itch to bake at Christmas. Get the kids involved and let them each pick out a recipe. Try a few, do a taste test, and crown a winner! Make it an annual contest.
12. Go to church together.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve never been. Find a church and go. Your kids will love the carols and the reminder of the reason we celebrate Christmas.
What are some single parent Christmas traditions you love?