How To Bring Christmas With You
"Will Santa find us at Grandpa and Nana's house?"
Our kids were two and a half the first time one of them asked me this question. We have traveled to Wisconsin to see both sides of our family every year since our kids were born, so I suppose it was inevitable that they would begin to wonder.
I am frequently asked at what point we will start staying home to let our kids wake up in their own home for Christmas. Anything is possible, but for now we like our tradition. We like that we are able to see all of our family in one place for Christmas. We like the traditions on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We like the chance to see our dear friends. For us, that is the holidays.
Fortunately, we have learned some ways to keep the magic of the season alive amidst our traveling. Whether you are venturing across town for the holidays or across the country, here are some tips for bringing the holidays with you.
We started doing this when our kids were two. We hang their stockings above our fireplace until we head to their grandparents' house and then we pack them along with our other things. This helps in particular with the Santa questions. When we get to Nana and Grandpa's house they hang up their stockings for Santa.
Packing and traveling can be stressful, but make sure to continue whatever merriment you started at home. For example:
*Bring the last few 25 Books of Christmas wrapped in the suitcase to open at your destination.
*Ask family to set aside some time (and maybe even gather the ingredients) to bake cookies when you get there.
*Pick a family Christmas movie to watch one of the evenings after you arrive.
I appreciate the special magic of waking up at your house, running downstairs in your jammies, opening presents and lazing about for the day. Those are some of my favorite Christmas memories. We want our kids to have a piece of that. They get a glimmer at their grandparents' house, but with multiple sides of the family clamoring for attention, Christmas is a busy time.
We have our own quiet, calm Christmas before we leave. It's best when you can do it on a weekend day, but even an evening Christmas is fun. Give each other gifts, have a fun meal (we like snowmen pancakes), listen to carols, and spend time together.
If you are flying, avoid bringing presents with you. Especially the larger, heavier ones.
As much as I love shopping and creating gifts, ordering online and shipping gifts makes holiday travel a lot easier. You can use Amazon and other online shops for buying and sending gifts across the country easily. Every year I ship boxes of presents ahead of us and then wrap them when we arrive.
Every year also we create gift lists on Amazon and share these with family and friends who want gift ideas. I work hard to pick things that aren't huge, but encourage family to mail bigger gifts to open at home when it is unavoidable.
On the way home, consider mailing yourself some of the gifts you received. Getting all of our stuff home is always the hardest part for us. Often I'll mail some of my gifts or my husband's gifts. For kid's gifts, pack an extra duffel bag in your suitcase so they don't have to be separated from their new presents for long. One year we forgot and checked a huge well-taped box with our name and number on it. We also always plan to pack some in their kid backpacks for the car or flight home.
Every city and town has Christmas and other holiday events. Try to take advantage of these while you are there. Plays? Lighting Displays? The Ballet? Tree Decorating Contests? (Here are some Holiday Event Guides to get you started).
Research a little beforehand or ask those who live in the area. Try to see at least one local holiday event. In our case, I think this year we are going to try to see a play at the children's theater and go ice skating.
Happy Holidays and Safe Travels!
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