MOPS International: Moms Share Low Cost (or No Cost) Holiday Traditions

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MOPS International {Mothers of Preschoolers} Moms share ideas for low cost or FREE family fun during the holiday season. This original article may be printed/posted in whole or in part, crediting MOPS International (Mothers of Preschoolers) and referring to our website:

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I do crafts and a cookie exchange with neighborhood kids so moms can finish up shopping and to-do lists.

There is more to Christmas than crowds at the mall & credit card bills! Families are seeking ways to be closer this holiday season without a big hit to the family budget. After all, the best Christmas memories can’t be wrapped with paper & ribbons or bought in a store. Moms know that treasured family traditions will be remembered by children long after new toys wear out or become obsolete.

Some families get crafty…

“We make Christmas ornaments as a family. I have a huge amount of craft stuff in our house and we go through it and see what we can come up with!” shares Heather, a creative mom of 2.

“We have a box of clear glass ornaments; Every year we write the year on one of them with a paint pen and then fill it with strips of paper on which we've written important things we did or experienced that year. It's fun the next year to hang the yearly ornaments on the tree and see glimpses of what made years past special,” says Kristi, mom of 2.

“At Christmas time we not only think of people to make gifts for, we include animals as well. We make bird treats to hang in the trees. We also place a corncob out for the squirrels. Then we get to watch them enjoy the treats,” says Nikki, a mom of 2 and friend to animals.

“We make footprint ornaments. I cover their feet in ink and then stamp their foot on the paper. It's fun looking back at their feet. I have them sign their ornament too,” says Michelle, a footloose mom of 3.

“We make a thankful Christmas chain – we write things we're thankful for on colored strips of paper throughout the year (or when we make the chain, if we've forgotten). Then we read them aloud and assemble the chain for a Christmas decoration- ours hangs around the top perimeter of the living room, linked onto our chains from past years (year written on the first and last chain of the year). It's a good exercise for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the whole year round, and a neat way to reflect on previous years, too,” says Janice, a mom to 3 grateful girls.

Some families get cooking…

“My 4 children and I make and decorate a birthday cake for Baby Jesus. Then, that cake is breakfast on Christmas morning. It's the only time of year they get dessert for breakfast!” says Sarah, mom to four and baker extraordinaire.

“We have a mass Christmas Cookie Baking Day and give our neighbors a sampling platter of what we made,” says Rebecca, a neighborly mom of 6 + 1 on the way.

Some families get nostalgic…

“We all get into our pjs, make hot cocoa, popcorn and other goodies and cuddle up to watch The Polar Express,” says Shannon, mom of four.

“We do an advent countdown using Christmas books – I wrap 24 books and put them under the tree, then each night we unwrap one and read it before bed,” says Amy, a mom of two little bookworms.

“On Christmas Eve, after the kids are asleep, my husband and I put in the movie "It's a Wonderful Life" (still use our VHS version!), and finish wrapping the gifts together. When we are done, we exchange one gift with each other. It gives us much needed down time together before the craziness of the following day. It is such a special time that I look forward to it every year – even after being married for 23 yrs, six kids and one granddaughter later!” says Monica, mom of 6 (ages 4-22), grandma to 1, and still a romantic.

“We watch the old classics: Frosty the Snowman, claymation Rudolph, The Little Drummer Boy, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and A Charlie Brown Christmas! We love it,” says Mrs. Parker, a proud mama of 5.

Some families are just plain silly…

“We are visited by Undie Elf, Smelly Feet Elf, and Sweet Tooth Elf each year!” says Beccy, a clever mom of 3.

“My family does a German tradition called ‘hide the pickle’. It’s a little pickle ornament that you hide last on the tree. On Christmas day all the children look for the pickle ornament and whoever finds it first gets a box of chocolates or other small gift,” says Jamie, a busy mom of 5.

Some families give back…

“We take the kids Christmas caroling at a local nursing home,” says Ashley, mom of 2 tuneful boys.

“We have made a tradition out of being bell ringers for the Salvation Army. We live in Minnesota... so you can only imagine how cold it is!” says Trish, a warm-hearted mom of 2.

“I do crafts and a cookie exchange with neighborhood kids {at my house} so moms can finish up shopping and to-do lists during winter break,” says Jonnie, mom of 4.

“Every year we volunteer with Patches and Badges for Kids. They pair each nominated child up with a police officer and his family (that’s us) and we go shopping (funded by the program) for that child for Christmas. I love that my son gets to understand the importance of giving back,” says Ashley, mom of 1.

“Christmas morning, we have the kids go through all their gifts and pick out one thing (and they can pick it out- so it can be as small as a coloring book and crayons, or their "biggest" toy) and donate it to a local shelter. We drive over together so they can be the ones to give it,” says Theresa, mom of 4 generous kiddos.

“This year we plan to do "RACKs" (Random Acts of Christmas Kindness). We’ll make up cards that say ‘you have been RACK'd’ and explain what it is. Ideas include: tape coins to a vending machine (w/ card), leave a Walmart gift card in the cart with a card for the next person to find, tape candy canes on ATM machines, deliver cookies to the fire department, police station, Post Office, etc.” Says Tracy, a thoughtful mom of 2.

Denver-based MOPS International is a non-profit ministry that creates communities to help “Better Moms Make A Better World.” Since 1973, MOPS International has served millions of mothers and families in thousands of local MOPS groups across the U.S. and in 38 countries internationally. MOPS ministries include Classic MOPS, Teen MOPS, Military MOPS, International MOPS and MOMSnext. MOPS is the best in the world at creating authentic communities of growth that invite women into a spiritual relationship.             


Elizabeth Sagaser, MOPS International

P: 800.929.1287

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