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This is Little J’s first Christmas, and I am so excited about it! I want to start our family traditions that we are going to do each year while he is young, but it is hard since he is a baby and can’t really do things like have a snowball fight or bake cookies. I have put together a list of 12 things you can do with your baby on their first Christmas to make it special. These work for babies who are newborns all the way up to 12 months, so they really can be done for your baby’s first Christmas (unlike other lists of things I have seen). You don’t necessarily have to do them all the 12 days before Christmas, but they are good things to do in December to get ready for Christmas.
1. Make a special ornament. I have seen several cute first Christmas ornaments on Pinterest. You can put your baby’s hospital bracelet and hat in a clear ornament, dip your baby’s hand in paint and make a handprint on a round ornament, press their foot into clay and hang that up, or even take a picture of them and mod-podge it into a flat wooden ornament. There are so many options. I chose to do a handprint on a clear ornament for Little J’s first Christmas ornament. And it will be a great keepsake for him to have when he is older. I still have my first Christmas ornament! The key here is to try and do something that they participate in (even if it is just contributing a hospital bracelet or a handprint). You can check out my roundup of DIY baby’s first Christmas ornaments here.
2. Take baby to meet Santa. This is a must! We went and did this last weekend and Little J did pretty well! He sat there with his mouth open, not really moving except for one hand feeling Santa’s beard. He didn’t cry until the very end! Some places, like Bass Pro Shops, will give you a free printed picture and then you can pay for more. This is something fun to do even if your baby is crying, because you will always remember that picture and be able to share it with your child in the future. So be that parent and just do it! You won’t regret it.
3. Send out Christmas cards. Okay so baby really only contributes a picture here, but this is something fun to do for your baby’s first Christmas. This is the first year we sent out Christmas cards and I am so excited about them! You can do a standard family picture, or just a picture of your little baby looking adorable. Don’t pretend you don’t want to show off how cute your child is. And a Christmas card is a great way to do that!
4. Read Christmas stories. It doesn’t matter how old your baby is, you can read them a Christmas story. Some babies will sit and listen to a long one like The Polar Express and other babies just want a short one like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. It doesn’t matter which one you choose, just read! I started reading to my son before he was three-months-old and now he loves it. So reading Christmas stories together is a great way to get ready for Christmas.
5. Take a picture of your baby in a Santa hat or in a stocking. I know you’ve seen pictures like this on Pinterest because that’s where I got the idea. The idea here is to get a special Christmas picture of your baby. If your baby won’t sit still long enough to get a picture of him in a stocking (I know mine won’t), try putting a Santa hat on him and taking a picture of that. You really just want to take a cute holiday picture that you will be able to show off for years to come! You can get ideas from this roundup of picture ideas for baby’s first Christmas here.
6. Sing Christmas songs. Up until Black Friday, I can NOT listen to Christmas music. I feel like Thanksgiving gets skipped over a lot and it makes me sad. Plus, I can’t start getting in the Christmas mood until after Thanksgiving is over. But as soon as it is, I turn on the Christmas music and start singing (a rare occurrence, so you know it’s special). My son is one of the only people in the world who likes to listen to me sing (possibly the only person), so I have been singing Christmas songs to him along with the radio. It’s especially fun to dance with them or have them clap along. I realized the other day how many Christmas songs I know all the words to, and I don’t think many of them were actually taught to me (who would teach their child the words to “Baby, It’s Cold Outside?” But it’s my favorite!). So I think singing songs like “Jingle Bells” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” will help teach them and get them excited for Christmas later, even if it doesn’t right now.
7. Look at Christmas lights. My family used to always drive around before Christmas and look at the Christmas lights. And now that it is super dark at 5pm, we can do that too! Our son doesn’t go to bed until 7-7:30pm so it is easy for us to drive around so he can look at lights out the windows of the car. Even if your baby ends up falling asleep, it is something fun you can do and you can make it a tradition every year!
8. Make handprint or footprint art. I did this for Halloween and thought it was fun and wanted to do it again! I have seen pictures of “mistletoes” and reindeer feet, and santa hands, and holly. Just search Pinterest for Christmas handprint or footprint art and I am sure you will find something you want to do. If you need some tips you can read more here. Also, I would recommend doing footprint art over handprint art, because toes don’t move around as much as fingers do. You will get less smearing that way.
9. Watch a Christmas movie. We don’t let our son watch TV unless it is something special (like a Jazz basketball game haha), so when we do turn it on he usually loves it. Pick a short, bright movie that will keep them interested. Something like the animated version of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is perfect. And it will get you in the Christmas spirit, too!
10. Make and hang up a felt tree. I wasn’t sure how my son would really like his tree, but he loves it! If your child is mobile (rolling, crawling, walking) you might not want to put up a real Christmas tree where they can get to it. It’s a good idea to let them have their own little tree to play with and decorate. Obviously Little J doesn’t get the whole decorating thing yet, but he likes to play with the ornaments and hopefully he’ll remember it a tiny bit next year. If your baby doesn’t move yet, you probably don’t have to worry about them getting into your tree. It’s still a fun idea to make them their own tree, though! Even if they do just suck on the ornaments. You can read more about how my friends and I made our felt trees here.
11. Get them a special nativity for them to play with. I have seen little wood peg ones, felt ones, and Fisher Price even makes an adorable one. Anyway, it’s fun to let your baby have their own special nativity set. You can put it in their room or somewhere they can reach it. There are so many things you set out at Christmas that you don’t want your baby playing with that it’s nice to let them have something that is their own that they can play with.
12. Read the story of Christ’s birth from the Bible. Even better than reading a Christmas book is reading the story of Christ’s birth recorded in the Bible. Luke 2:1-20 is my favorite version of it, and it’s short enough that even though there aren’t pictures, your baby might listen. You could also get a book with pictures that has the story of Christ’s birth, but for now we are just sticking with the Bible.
Your baby’s first Christmas will be special whether they remember it or not. I can’t wait to put Little J in his Christmas pajamas on Christmas Eve and sit down together to read “The Night Before Christmas.” Having Christmas traditions is so much fun and I can’t wait to start these with our little guy.