6 Ways to Have an Old-Fashioned Christmas

Skip the flashier Christmas, avoid the holiday rush, and embrace a calmer Christmas.

Skip the flashier Christmas, avoid the holiday rush, and embrace a calmer Christmas. The overly commercialized view on Christmas is exhausting. Aren’t you busy enough being an active Mom? Unplug your family this holiday with some old-fashioned Christmas traditions. By doing things together as a family, you will be creating annual traditions while building long-lasting memories.

1. Choose and Cut Your Christmas Tree

In 1901, the first Christmas tree farm was planted near Trenton, New Jersey. Today, there are about 12,000 growers in the US producing approximately 35,000,000 trees annually. North Carolina has 1,600 growers, so there are plenty of farms for North Carolinians to make their tree selection.

Whisk your family up into the Blue Ridge Mountains for a day’s adventure of finding the perfect Christmas tree. From Alleghany to Yancey County, Christmas tree farms can be found offering a wide selection of sizes and tree species.

Don’t come just for a Christmas tree, make a day of it. At some of the farms, a variety of family-friendly activities await, from going on a hayride, riding a horse, to making holiday crafts. Warm hot chocolate is often a key ingredient after braving the cold in search of a tree. Many farms have piping hot cocoa ready for chilly kids and adults.

So, bundle up the kids and head to the mountains for a day of holiday adventure. This magical journey could easily become an annual memory-making tradition for your family.

SEE ALSO: The Full List of N.C. Christmas Tree Farms


2. DIY Tree Trimming

shutterstock_88513036-web.jpgBefore glass and manufactured ornaments existed, Early Americans decorated their tree with homemade ornaments and items from nature such as berries, fruit, and popcorn. Using a needle, thread, popcorn, fresh cranberries, and dehydrated orange slices, your family can create a colorful, old-fashioned garland for your tree. Popcorn is the most fragile part of the garland, so when stringing on popcorn, make sure the needle goes through the center of each popcorn kennel. If not, popcorn tends to split and fall apart. The cranberries and orange slices aren’t quite as delicate making them easier to string. Gather the kids around and bring back an early American tradition by making a homemade garland with your children.

Kids can have a great time making salt dough ornaments, too, and they are fun keepsakes to look back on for years to come. Children can use their individual creativity painting and decorating the ornaments, which will be a fun reminder of their childhood when they are older.

Ornaments carry with them nostalgia and are something that can easily be passed down through generations. When Melissa McAtee was young, her mom Judith McCrary started an annual family tradition by purchasing an ornament each Christmas for each child. McAtee says, "When it was time for me to leave home and have my first Christmas tree, my mom gave me my set of ornaments. My first Christmas tree was a piece of my home and I have started the same tradition with my kids."


3. Wrap it up

Gift-wrapping came about in 1917. Rope, twine, strings, and sealing wax were used to hold the paper together, as well as twigs of greenery and berries making the presentation a gift as much as what is inside the wrapping.

Continue the wrapping tradition and make specially selected gifts even more special by making your own holiday-inspired wrapping paper. You can purchase rolls of white paper and gift bags at your local craft store, or consider recycling brown grocery bags that can be festively adorned. Using festive stamps and red or green ink, young children can easily decorate the white paper. Christmas cookie cutters dipped in non-toxic paint and pressed on a gift bag is another easy way for kids to join in on the fun. Potatoes can also be sliced and cut into fun shapes that can be dipped in paint to stamp wrap.


4. Christmas Caroling

As neighborhoods grow and streets are busier, this once treasured tradition has all but vanished. Along with her neighbors, Lareina Welch, mom of two young children, have re-ignited an annual tradition of caroling. Her family, who lives in Tega Cay, spreads Christmas cheer throughout a senior friend’s neighborhood. The kids in the singing group don Christmas-themed costumes, such as candy canes and snowmen. This tradition is a rewarding one, bringing smiles to the faces of those being serenaded and walk to houses singing holiday songs. It’s a tradition Welch enjoys with her family, and it teaches the spirit of giving back into the community.


5. Cookies and Milk

Since the 1930s, American children have left cookies and milk for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. The cookies are often cut into such shapes as those of candy canes, reindeer, and holly leaves. Press play on some carols, turn on the oven, and enjoy a tasty holiday tradition with your kids. Baking and decorating are great fun to be had by kids of all ages. Be prepared for the messes and mistakes from flour spills, sprinkle dumps to icing covered faces, and remember it’s all a part of the fun. You want to create a memorable fun holiday memory. Of course, the sampling of the creations is the immediate bonus for everyone.


6. Special Songs and Stories

Christmas songs and stories can transport you down a nostalgic path, make you feel cheery, and create a festive atmosphere whenever you hear one. When, how and what families choose to read together are something that makes their individual memories.

Holiday music is something generations before and after can share and enjoy. For Melissa McAtee’s family a certain Christmas song takes on a whole new meaning. McAtee’s great aunt, Nadine McKinnon co-wrote "This Christmas." The McAtee family is honored to have this famous song as a part of their family’s Christmas. Music runs in this family. McAtee’s grandmother is a second cousin of Nat King Cole. Her family plays The Christmas Song album throughout Christmas Eve while dining on their Christmas Eve dinner and ending the night by opening one present.


Three generations of Lareina Welch's family read "The Night Before Christmas" together.

Years ago, Larenia Welch’s mom, Wendy Bartlett started a family tradition of reading The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve. It all started by gathering her kids before bedtime and reading this traditional Christmas story. This tradition didn’t stop when Bartlett’s children were grown and lived in different parts of the country. A family scheduled conference call was the way she continued this tradition. With the advancement of technology, now she uses Skype or Face Time as a way to keep alive this family tradition. Welch says, "It felt silly as a teenager, but not now with my two young children who love to take part in this tradition."

Avoid the holiday hustle, slow down, and enjoy creating lasting traditions with your family. Establishing a few traditions will make your holiday special in your family’s own way. May your every Christmas be filled with continuing family traditions that will live on for generations to come.

Sara Kendall is a freelance writer who lives in Charlotte with her husband and two daughters.