Passing Old Christmas Traditions to New Generations

2 12 2012

As I have talked about in previous posts, I plan on making this Christmas all about giving, spending valuable time with family & good friends, and traditions.

I have talked about Making New Traditions including $5.00 Family Exchange3 Ways to Spark the Spirit on a Budget, and how to make your own Homemade Christmas Ornaments and Advent Calendars.

While on our annual Christmas Tree hunt last weekend, my boys became increasingly curious as to why we would even want a Christmas Tree in our living room. To be very honest, I really had no idea how to answer their probing questions of why this has become such a normal tradition.

Again, while my family and I were unpacking our Christmas decorations this weekend I noticed there are several “Old Christmas Traditions” that we participate in and I really had no idea where they originated from.  In order for us to pass these traditions to future generation, I decided to do some research to be able to provide information about them, that way I can teach them to my children.

Follow along with me to learn about why we do all the little things we do that contribute to making the Christmas season so magical.

The Christmas Tree


Also known as the “Yule-tree”, this tradition has been traced back to Germany since the 15th century.     “The tree was traditionally decorated with edibles such as apples, nuts or dates. In the 18th century, it began to be illuminated by candles, which with electrification could also be replaced by Christmas Lights. Today, there are a wide variety of traditional ornaments, such as garland, tinsel, and candy canes.An angel or star may be placed at the top of the tree, to represent the host of angels or the Star of Bethlehem from the Nativity”. Wikipedia- Christmas Trees

How did this tradition begin? “Well, the story goes that St. Boniface, who is credited for converting many Germans to Christianity, came across a group of Pagans worshiping an oak tree. This made him angry, so he cut the tree down. What sprouted up in its place was a fir tree. St. Boniface took this as a sign from God, and it has been a Christian symbol ever since. Also, when Queen Victoria married Prince Albert, he gave a tree to his wife for Christmas, since it was a custom in his homeland of Germany”.  Kidzworld

Christmas Stockings and Saint Nicholas


“While there are no written records of the origin of the Christmas Stocking, there are popular legends that attempt to tell the history of this Christmas tradition. One such legend has several variations, but the following is a good example: Very long ago, there lived a poor man and his three very beautiful daughters. He had no money to get his daughters married, and he was worried what would happen to them after his death”.

Saint Nicholas was passing through when he heard the villagers talking about the girls. St. Nicholas wanted to help, but knew that the old man wouldn’t accept charity. He decided to help in secret. He waited until it was night and crept through the chimney”.

“He had three bags of gold coins with him, one for each girl. As he was looking for a place to keep those three bags, he noticed stockings of the three girls that were hung over the mantelpiece for drying. He put one bag in each stocking and off he went. When the girls and their father woke up the next morning, they found the bags of gold coins and were of course, overjoyed. The girls were able to get married and live happily ever after”.

“This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold. That is why three gold balls, sometimes represented as oranges, are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas. And so, St. Nicholas is a gift-giver”. Wikipedia-Christmas Stocking

History of Candy Canes

candy cane

“Around the seventeenth century, European-Christians began to adopt the use of Christmas trees as part of their Christmas celebrations. They made special decorations for their trees from foods like cookies and sugar-stick candy. The first historical reference to the familiar cane shape goes back to 1670, when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany, bent the sugar-sticks into canes to represent a shepherd’s staff. The all-white candy canes were given out to children during the long-winded nativity services”.

How did they get their stripe?  “About fifty years later the first red-and-white striped candy canes appeared. No one knows who exactly invented the stripes, but Christmas cards prior to the year 1900 showed only all-white candy canes. Christmas cards after 1900 showed illustrations of striped candy canes. Around the same time, candy-makers added peppermint and wintergreen flavors to their candy canes and those flavors then became the traditional favorites”.  More info Here

Story of the Mistletoe

images (1)

“Mistletoe has been getting people locking lips together for a long time. The Celts used to believe that mistletoe was a powerful charm against lighting, thunder and other scary things. The Norse thought the plant was a symbol of peace. Warriors who met under the green leaves would not fight and warring couples would “kiss and make up”. Other European cultures believed that mistletoe aided in fertility and was an aphrodisiac – which explains why peeps become so smitten underneath it”! Kidzworld

Christmas Cards


“The first Christmas was made by Sir Henry Cole who worked for the British Postal Service. He hired an artist to create three scenes – in the middle a family sat around the dinner table, on the left, the hungry were being fed and on the right, the needy were being clothed. The familiar greeting “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You” was written on it..  English School Boys also wrote greeting cards to their parents as proof of how well they could write”.  Kidzworld

So I have provided a bunch of information regarding how Old Christmas Traditions began.  Now when the little munchkins ask those puzzling questions it will be easier to answer them.

Remember, these holidays will be the memories your children will remember for the rest of their lives.  This is their reality! Even if you are on a budget many of these traditions just take time, love, and creativity.

Have fun this holiday season and make them as magical as possible!

What are some old traditions you like to enjoy with your family?


Keeping Kids Busy on a Budget- Homemade Pirate / Knight Gear

1 12 2012

While the week rolls on and the rain continues to fall, I look to my stash of cardboard from a recent trip to Costco for inspiration to keep the kids busy.  Since my kiddos are boys, it seems very natural for them to like pirates, battling  and knights.  Trying to keep them busy within the house this weekend, my husband and I went to work making them  swords, shields, hats, and armor to prepare them for their next battle.

What you will need:




Duct Tape

Pipe Cleaner



Draw out the desired sword design on a piece of cardboard and cut out.

Use that as a stencil and make a duplicate of the original.

The sword needs to be double up in order to make it more durable.

Tape the two swords together along the entire outside border.  Fill in Duct Tape through out the sword.

If needed, add some popsicle sticks between the cardboard pieces in the handle for extra durability.

Allow the kids to color the handle



Cut our three circles the exact same size.

Pick one circle and cut two slits in the cardboard.


Place another, thin (bendable), piece of cardboard through the slits.

Poke a pipe cleaner through the cardboard as well.

The slits will host the arm holder and the pipe cleaner will act as a handle.


Tape the excess of the thin cardboard and the pipe cleaner so they lay flat and stay secure.


Tape this circle to the other two cutouts, making sure to cover the entire outside border.

Create a pattern on the front piece of cardboard to add strength and design.

See example of the arm/hand holds:



Get a full size Newspaper


Fold paper in half (top to bottom)

Cut approximately 6 inches off the sides.


Fold each top corner toward the middle,

creating a triangle appearance with a few inches left at the bottom.


Fold the extra pieces over to create a flared appearance.



Using a paper bag from a grocery store, cute out a large hole on the bottom and two hole on each side.

Slip over the child’s head.

Let the battles begin!


What are fun things you like to create with cardboard? Leave some fun suggestions in the comment section!

Keeping Kids Busy on a Budget- 3 Ways to Spark the Spirit

25 11 2012

With the Thanksgiving weekend behind us, many new magical adventures are popping up everywhere.  On November 23, 2012 Carson City opened it’s annual Skating Rink in Down Town Carson City.

This family friendly outing is sure to keep the family busy on a budget and is another way to create those lasting family memories. They offer family nights, heated tents to get warm, and a fun magical atmosphere.

More information for the Carson City Ice Rink.

This weekend was also the weekend my family and I participated in the only hunt The Chalmers’ Family is ever apart of… The Christmas Tree Hunt. It was a great day to get out and about with some amazing family and take our pick from the trees within the Mount Rose Hunting grounds.  We hike far and wide to find the perfect little tree and two brave little boys took it down.

There is still a lot of time to get your tree permits!!

More information for Christmas Tree Permits.

Hop on board the Santa Train at the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City.  The train will be running on December 1 &2 and only costs $3.00 per rider.  This train adventure is very short but the children are usually excited to see that Santa himself walks through the carts handing out candy canes to all the passengers   A great rider for little ones who have a hard time sitting still for too long.  For more information call 775-687-6953.

Remember, this is your children’s childhood and you can help mold their memories however you wish.

Make this a great holiday season full of adventure, excitement  and wonder.

The Spirit of Giving- $5.00 Family Exchange

24 11 2012

In the past few posts I have talked about the nearing of Christmas and the family traditions I hope to pass on to my children and their children for years to come.  I have mentioned our Annual Christmas Tree Hunt (which we will be doing tomorrow), Making Homemade Ornaments (check), Making Homemade Advent Calendars (check), giving to local charities, and our yearly visit from our friendly Elf on the Shelf (whom will be making an appearance tonight, a little late, due to the flu working its way through the house).

With the passing of Thanksgiving and the launch of the holiday shopping season, I began my quest to search for even more family traditions.  As I have stated, I really would like to show my boys that Christmas is more about giving and less about receiving.

One tradition, that I have not previously mentioned, I started last year, was that of the $5.00 family exchanged.  This idea came to me last year when my oldest boy, four at the time, wanted to make something for his daddy for Christmas.  He began his “work” and became frustrated with what he had created.  Even though I encouraged him daddy would love his creation, I knew deep down he wanted to give even more.  This is when the idea of the $5.00 family exchange came to my mind.  What if I allowed each of my boys $5.00 to spend on their mom, dad, and brother?  Would they want to get more involved with the spirit of giving?  So off the family went with a little money in hand.

My husband and I each started with one child, in the store they were able to think about what they were going to give, then they were able to shop within their budget for a Christmas item of their choice.  Then my husband and I swapped little munchkins and did the same.  To our amazement each of our boys took the challenge very seriously and really thought about what they were going to get for each member of the family.  By the end of our shopping adventure they were gleaming with joy and had a hard time restraining themselves from giving away their surprises.

During the coming days the boys were responsible for wrapping their gifts, and placing them under the tree.  On Christmas day they were also the ones that would give the gifts to the appropriate members of the family. To my husband and my amazement, we watched as my boys were just as excited to open their presents as they were to return the favor of giving.  This new family tradition was such a success that our family with certainly be participating in this $5.00 exchange for years to come.  Just another way for children to get into the spirit of giving.

Interested to know what they picked out and their reasons for choosing them?


  • For Dad: Fishing items “because he likes to take me fishing”
  • For Mom: Wallet “mommy always looses her debit card”
  • For Sylis: Monster Truck “brother likes monster trucks”


  • For Dad: Beer Bread Mix Kit (mommy guided him a little on this one), (he wanted to get daddy beer, “Cause daddy loves beer”)
  • For Mom: Chocolate “mommy loves eating chocolate”
  • For Seth: Motorcycle “brother likes motorcycles”

All in all the boys were pretty on target and really thought about what they wanted to give.

I am really hoping this tradition sticks.

I would love to hear what other family do to help children see the value of giving to others during the holiday season.

Please leave your comments below.

Keeping Kids Busy on a Budget- Homemade Advent Calendars

18 11 2012

In addition to making Homemade Christmas Ornaments every year, my family also participates in a Christmas tradition dating back to the 19th century.  This tradition, making and using Advent Calendars, is  a method of counting down or celebrating the days leading up to Christmas day.  This is a fun activity that is not only fun to create, but will also be functional for the month of December

This year I decided to have the boys make one that included many skills including, coloring, cutting, gluing, and counting.

What you will need:

Santa Face– Printed on Card Stock

Red Marker


Cotton Balls

24 – 1 inch strips of paper


String or Pipe Cleaner

Print out the Santa Face and color

Depending on the Child,  have them cut out the Santa Face

Apply cotton balls to Santa’s beard

Attach the 24 strips of paper under the beard using The Paper Chain Method 

Use a hole punch and attach a string or pipe cleaner

Wait for December 1, then allow the children to remove 1 link each night.

By Christmas Eve there should be no remaining links, representing the arrival of Santa Clause.

Just another fun, cheap, magical Christmas Tradition to keep the spirit alive.


Keeping Kids Busy on a Budget- Homemade Christmas Ornaments

17 11 2012

While searching through a few blogs the other day I came across an article written by Busy Bee Kids Crafts.  In her blog I found a recipe for “Salt Dough“, a multifunctional,  extremely cheap, homemade dough, that can be used for a variety of projects and crafts.  Since I normally have my children make a few Christmas ornaments each year, I thought this would be the perfect dough for making Homemade Christmas Ornaments.


1 cup salt
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup luke warm water

Mix all ingredients together and kneed dough for 5 minutes.

Roll out the dough until about 1/4 inch thick.  Cut shapes with cookie cutters.

Use a straw to make a hole for the ribbon to hang the ornament.

Place in oven at 200 degree for 2 hours.

Ornaments may need more or less time depending on how thick they are.

Paint away!  We used Acrylic Paint from Michael’s.

If you print out their 40% off coupon before going, it makes the purchase very cheap.

Attach a ribbon.

Ornaments are not only a great way to keep kids busy on a rainy day,

but also make great gifts for loved ones.

This is a fun way to allow the kiddos make gifts for Christmas without breaking the bank.

Make sure to write the child’s name and date of the back, so you can reminisce each year.

What are some cheap, adorable gifts, you have your kiddos create?

Keeping Kids Busy on a Budget- Creating Family Traditions

16 11 2012

In the last post I talked about creating a Christmas budget and sticking to in.  In this post I am going to step away from the spending part and just focus on giving and creating family traditions.

I would have to say the Christmas season is my favorite time of the year because I love to be surrounded by loving family and friends.  The best part of it all for me, are the weeks heading up to Christmas.  During this time, it is the perfect opportunity to bring the family and friends together to help them learn and feel what this giving season is all about.  I really hope that when my children grow old and have children of their own, they remember the traditions and the giving, not what they received.

  1. Christmas Tree Hunt– Our family usually starts off the holiday season the weekend after Thanksgiving.  During this weekend, we normally gather our family, some extended family, and on occasion good friends, and head to the forest for our annual Christmas tree hunt.  We pack lunches, hot coco, and just spend the day forging through the forest to find the perfect tree.  It is a time not only to get out into the great outdoors, but has become one of my favorite Christmas traditions with the family.  In addition the permit only costs $10.00 so it is a great way to save money.   Permits go on sale November 21 and they are limited in the amount they sale, so get them quick.   Click here for more information on Christmas tree permits.
  2. Elf on the Shelf– In addition, to our annual tree hunt, Thanksgiving weekend allows my husband and I to introduce a little “helper” into our home called “The Elf on the Self”.   This is a little elf, also accompanied by a book, that arrives the day after Thanksgiving.  His purpose is to make sure the children behave themselves.  He leaves every night to fly to the North Pole and reports to Santa if the children have been Naughty or Nice.  He returns every morning, but always in a new location within the home, sometimes in very mischievous places.  Some parents get so involved with the spirit of the elf they have set up websites offering fun suggestions of what you can do with this little elf.  Since this home is full of little ones, the kids have a blast with this annual tradition.  While the initial purchase may be a little pricey, it can not only be used for years, but also passed on through generations.
  3. Christmas Light Viewing– In our town there is an annual Christmas Tree lighting at the Capital Grounds.  It is amazing to see various school choirs singing Christmas carols, Santa make an appearance  and witness the Christmas Tree lighting.  In addition, it usually marks the opening of the small ice rink downtown and the start to the holiday season.  During the days leading up to Christmas, after the Nevada Appeal has published it’s list of houses with awesome Christmas decor, we head out in a caravan of cars and view the various house within out community.  Both of these events are completely free, but still offer the magic of what Christmas should be all about.
  4. Making Homemade Christmas OrnamentsSee Blog Post Here
  5. Making Homemade Advent Calendars- See Blog Post Here
  6. The Spirit of Giving– Since so many Americas are struggling to survive, Christmas time can be very stressful.  There are so many organizations that need the support of others who may need a helping hand throughout the holidays.  If you are thinking that you are not able to help due to limited funds yourself, you may be surprised.  I have included a list of a few charities that are widely known.  Some causes are just asking for everyone to take the time and clean out their food cabinets and coat closets.  In addition, if your kids see that you make an effort to give to others, they will most likely want to give as well.  Anyone can help and every little bit helps out.
  • Toys for Tots– Local toy drive for children in low income households.
  • Food Bank of Northern Nevada– Helps feed children, elderly, ill, and the needy.
  • Salvation Army– Clothing, Shoes, Household Goods, Small and Large Appliances, Furniture
  • Make a Wish– Helping children with terminal illness experience a dream come true.
  • Angel Tree– Local toy drive to help children of parents who are in prison.
  • Burlington Coat Factory– For each gently used coat you bring in you can receive 10% off an item.  They are hoping to collect their 1 millionth coat this winter.
  • Shriner’s Hospital– A hospital dedicated to helping children under 18.

So those are just six traditions that you can have fun with this holiday season and many more to follow.  I would love to create many more traditions for my children to pass on for generations to come that do not include lots of money.

What are some of your favorite traditions?

Teresa Chalmers

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