I’m a sentimental kind of lady. I’m also a hoarder. Such a dangerous combination with children in my home. The holidays are next level when it comes to hoarding memories. I want to save every popsicle stick craft, hand print Santa, torn paper chain, construction paper wreath, gingerbread house, Christmas cookie, candy cane…I quickly spiral from sentimentally cute to downright impractical.
By my daughter’s second Christmas, it became apparent that I needed to be reigned in. Just what am I planning to do with a milk-stained piece of construction paper barely holding the 63 cotton balls my 1-year-old glued to Santa’s beard? Not even I could answer that. So I turned to the book of answers — Pinterest — to find new ideas for saving the most important memories that can be brought out every year in a meaningful, adorable way.
I discovered a new way of making Christmas traditions: growing traditions.
Rather than keeping individual crafts and memories, these traditions build upon each other from year to year. Every year, a little more is added, creating a beautiful keepsake perfect for the sentimental mom. Though they can all be started at any point, starting when your children are young will preserve the cutest memories and give you ALL.THE.FEELS. as you unpack it many Christmases down the road.
Here are a few traditions I have started with my family, as well as others I plan to start this year. It’s never too late to begin!
1. Hand Print Tree Skirt
I’m a sucker for hand prints. I love that this keepsake holds all the hand prints in one place, and I can watch them grow over the years. There are so many ways to personalize this. You could use a different color paint for each child. You can group the hand prints by year or by child. If the thought of paint terrifies you, you could trace the hand prints onto felt and hot glue to the tree skirt. Check out The Exhausted Mom for how you can use it when your children are grown.
2. Christmas Card Display
There is a multitude of ways to display all the Christmas cards you receive each year, but I reserve a special place in my home for displaying all of my own family’s Christmas cards. Each year, I save the Christmas card we send out and add it to the ones from years past. When displayed altogether, I can take a walk down memory lane and see how my family has grown. I love this beautiful display from The Lily Pad Cottage that costs less than $5.
3. Tree Trunk Ornaments
Growing up, my family always had a live Christmas tree. Some of those trees had some stories to tell. Stories of Christmas morning joy, and stories of the neighbor’s cat climbing to the top. I LOVE this idea from Mother’s Circle of saving a piece of the trunk. My sentimental heart is already imagining the conversation that will be had when I pull out the basket of trunk pieces and reminisce over all those Christmases. I also love The Photographer’s Wife’s tutorial on how to turn them into ornaments.
4. Time Capsule Ornaments
I think these ornaments are a precious way to create a small snapshot of your child’s year. The hoarder in me especially loves the idea of filling them with all those little toys that will never survive the test of time but will instantly transport me back to that time in my children’s lives. A little tree just for these ornaments would be a perfect way to decorate a little nook in your home. Bare Feet on the Dashboard has a tutorial and free printables.
5. Hand Print Growing Tree
Hand prints again! This is an alternative to the hand print tree skirt. A white canvas, paint, and some stickers are all you need to create this growing craft. Whenever you choose to begin, start at the top so the hands get bigger as you move down the tree. Every year, add another hand print until you have a full tree that you can savor in your old age. You could make one for each child or a family tree.
6. Christmas Memory Book
Some memories just can’t be captured in a picture or hand print craft. Every Christmas usually has a plethora of stories that can be easily forgotten as the next Christmas’ memories take their place. I love this idea of recording the memories from year to year. What a special book to look back on for you and your kids!