Christmas morning memories: Make the day even more special

Do your months of preparation turn into 15 minutes of kids frantically unwrapping Christmas presents?

Christmas morning is a time for memories and creating traditions that kids look forward to year after year. Instead of the highly anticipated morning coming to a close quickly, adding some family activities can continue the fun, while creating annual traditions.

If your family doesn’t have traditions in place, there’s still plenty of time to create your own. Here are some ideas to make Christmas more than just about opening presents.

Start a breakfast tradition. Whether it's a casserole, pancakes or baked goods, having a special Christmas breakfast will kick off the day the right way. Want to make it even more special? Choose something to make only on Christmas each year.

Wear festive PJs. Kids always look cute in Christmas pajamas, but parents can join in as well. Each year, choose a different theme for unique holiday family photos.

Donate toys to Santa. What better time of year to clear out the old toys than Christmas? On Christmas Eve, have the kids gather the toys they no longer use and put them in a bag for Santa to take with him when he leaves the house. Not only does it teach sharing and giving, it also clears out space for all those new toys Santa is about to bring.

Hunt for presents. Scavenger hunts are great ways to engage the minds of children and make opening presents a little more adventurous. Print out a list of clues in advance, and have them search the house for a handful of their presents. This works especially well if there is one Christmas present that has several parts.

Write a hope note. Before packing up the stockings, write a note that's placed in each person's stocking. Similar to a New Year's resolution, on a piece of paper, write, "I hope ..." and then include something you hope will happen by next Christmas. Each year, revisit the hope notes to see if that person's wish came true.

Play elf by giving back. After opening the presents, take a walk as a family, or check in on someone who may need company. Do something nice for someone else—shovel snow, deliver coffee or Christmas treats, or simply check in on a neighbor who may not have family nearby. This act of kindness will teach kids the true meaning of Christmas.

Make the first gift meaningful. Before opening presents, have each family member give a meaningful gift. This can be a gift to God, such as completing daily devotionals, or can be a gift to a loved one, such as promising to spend more time together.

Play a game. Whether it's Christmas trivia or a white elephant exchange, Christmas games are a fun activity to spend with the family in the morning. Have a special Christmas present for the winner of the game.

Watch a Christmas movie. After all the presents are opened, sit together as a family, drink hot chocolate and watch a Christmas movie. Pick a different one each year, or start a tradition of re-watching a family favorite. If the family has cabin fever, head to the movie theater—one of few places typically open Christmas day.

Write a family newsletter. Christmas falls at the end of the year, so writing a family newsletter is a great way to remember everything that happened during the past year. Send them to family members, but also save and compile them in a book to look through year after year.

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