Creating New Holiday Traditions

When I was a child, I would stay awake as long as I could every Christmas Eve. I was convinced that at some point, I would be able to hear Santa descend our chimney.

I had an entire plan worked out. Pretending to snore, I’d trick Santa into thinking I was fast asleep. And once he was lulled into a false sense of security, I’d silently tiptoe up behind him as he unloaded gifts.

“HA! I got you!” I planned to yell delightedly.

It was pure genius if I do say so myself. Alas, no such luck. I always fell asleep before I could hatch my brilliant plan.

Then, before I knew it, it was Christmas morning. My brother and I would make a beeline for our stockings before we even looked to see how many presents we had under the tree.

Our Christmas socks were always jam-packed with candy. My favorite stocking stuffer I looked forward to each year was Christmas-themed Life Saver gummies.

So many fond memories were made while giggling with my brother as we tried to convince my parents it was okay for us to eat the entire box in one sitting.

Then, once all our stocking stuffers and Christmas presents were opened, we would pack up tons of gifts and then ourselves into our car. And off we went to see our extended family members for huge meals and endless Christmas treats.

To me, those holiday memories shine brightly in my heart.

Having Kids of My Own

When I was pregnant with my first child, I remember planning future Christmas traditions. I was looking forward to giving my children candies in their own stockings.

Likewise, my husband and I talked about how we would take our kids to travel around to all our different family member’s homes to share meals, presents, and good times.

I wanted our children to feel the same joy and magic I had felt on Christmas.

Well, not long after birth, food allergies roared into our lives. They basically sucker-punched all my preconceived notions, expectations, and plans for future holiday activities.

But I’m kinda glad that they did.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll NEVER be glad that my children have food allergies.

But I am beyond grateful for the new, beautifully personal traditions our family has been able to cultivate due to food allergies.

Because of my children’s food allergies, most candies and baked goods are unsafe. Food allergies also make it harder to find safe body products like chapstick, lotion, body wash, etc.

As a result, we try to emphasize non-food-centered activities.

My husband and I juggle a large extended family unit, so navigating food at those significant events is sometimes extremely difficult. Sometimes it is downright impossible.

Since our children are so young, we have pulled back a lot from attending large gatherings and have instead opted for smaller get-togethers, or we host the meals ourselves.

You can read more about how we handle holidays and food allergy safety boundaries HERE.

Making New Traditions

Instead, my husband and I have tried to come up with unique Christmas traditions that are safe for our kids to fully participate in with us.

And the best part about these new traditions is that they typically span the entire month of December! They can be spaced out and thoroughly enjoyed.

We’ve turned our focus away from traveling for the holidays and having large meals with tons of people. Food is still important, but we strive not to place significant value on it.

Furthermore, I want to say that there is no right or wrong way to handle Christmas traditions and get-togethers.

Every food allergy family comes from different backgrounds and experiences. We might not be comfortable with certain situations, but your family might feel safe in that same setting.

And that is 100% okay. 🙂

So, without further ado, here are some new family traditions we created ourselves or adapted from others.

Note: The following links are not affiliate links. They are products we have used or would like to use.

Non-Food Gingerbread Houses

We have struggled to find safe gingerbread house kits free from peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, and eggs. So to ensure there are no cross-contact issues, we just make artificial gingerbread houses.

Here are some ideas:

  • THIS set of fabric gingerbread house craft kits. My kids loved making these!
  • We love THESE sticker gingerbread house activities!
  • Or make your own gingerbread house out of cardboard! My mom and daughter made the gingerbread house pictured below. They cut out pieces of cardboard, then painted and glued on decorations.

Non-Food Advent Calendar

Instead of trying to find advent calendars with safe candies each year, our family ordered a beautiful wooden advent calendar with drawers. HERE is the link.

Of course, your family could use safe candies for your family, or you could focus on non-food items.

And if you’re reading this today and want to do an advent calendar this year, it’s not too late to start!

Here are a few options:

  • A Christmas puzzle. Put one puzzle piece in each drawer and have your children build on the mystery picture every day until Christmas.
  • Old family photos. Children love stories, and what better way to tell your kids about their family history than using old family photos?
  • Handwritten love notes. Write each of your children a love note or affirmation for 25 days.
  • Christmas stickers. Place stickers in each drawer for your children to collect and use.

Taking Christmas Light Viewing Up a Notch

Another tradition that my children absolutely adore now is Christmas light viewing. They especially love to find houses with laser light shows set to music!

Facebook groups and newspapers should list where to find unique Christmas lights local to you.

Usually, people take hot chocolate with them in the car. We have done that but don’t always have access to safe cocoa in a pinch.

So here are some ways that we take the level of fun in the car up a notch.

  • Build a “fort” inside of your car for the kids. Everyone wears PJs and brings pillows, stuffed animals, and blankets inside the car before setting out to look at the lights.
  • Bingo Christmas picture cards. You could print these and put a sticker (or x) on every picture that you see while out looking at lights. For example, if you see a reindeer decoration, you would mark off the picture of the reindeer on the bingo card. HERE is a link to a free printable.
  • Christmas light scavenger hunt checklist. Etsy has a few great options. HERE is one that is reasonably priced.

Christmas Bath Bonanza

Our children are still toddlers. Bath time is either the time of their life or an absolute tsunami of a disaster. 😂

However, we do try really hard to have bath nights that are uniquely special during the holidays.

Here are a few ideas for making bath time a bit more magical:

  • Lights off & glow sticks. I first saw this idea from Beth Ann on her Instagram account. Her handle is @lowliftfun. Instead of using all the colors she did, just use green and red glow sticks to make it Christmas-themed.
  • Custom Christmas washcloths. Find some old (or new) washcloths or Christmas pattern hand towels. Use Christmas cookie cutters (gingerbread men/snowmen/etc.) and trace the outline on the fabric. Then cut them out and use them for washing up in the tub.
  • Christmas rubber duckies. These can be ordered HERE on Amazon or found at Target and Walmart.

Themed Days

My kids are also really into planning themed dress-up days for December. They usually prefer a Friday since it typically leads to a weekend of fun.

Here are a few theme day ideas:

  • Christmas pajama day
  • Dress up like the Grinch day
  • Santa hat day
  • Reindeer antler headband day
  • Dress up like a Christmas elf day

Christmas “Wishes” in a Jar

One tradition we always used to participate in around Christmas was baking cookies for the neighbors. This tradition was most likely created to build community, show appreciation for people, and teach children how to give to others.

We could still make safe cookies free from specific allergens, but our family is much more conscious of food allergies and intolerances.

Consequently, we want to give our neighbors something that we know is completely safe while also teaching our children the importance of giving to others.

This year, we purchased fairy lights and will put them in Mason jars. Then we will write Christmas wishes on cardstock paper (index-sized) and tie them to the jar with Christmas ribbon.

My children will deliver them to our neighbors and explain that the jars are full of their magical Christmas wishes.

HERE is the link for the fairy lights we purchased.

Other Holiday Tradition Ideas:

  • Having snowball fights outside or “yarn” ball fights inside.
    • Check out this LINK for yarn snowballs.
  • Making different Christmas crafts throughout the season. Here are a couple great websites:
    • Simple Everyday Mom – She has an excellent section on holiday crafts HERE.
    • Free Kids Crafts – Click HERE for their awesome ideas for holiday crafts.
  • Writing Christmas letters to Santa, family, and friends.
  • Making forts in the living room on Christmas Eve for the kids to sleep in.
  • Creating yearly Christmas ornaments with wooden, plastic, or glass materials. We find many reasonably priced supplies at:
    • The Target dollar spot ($1-$5 range)
    • The Dollar Tree
    • Hobby Lobby
  • Brainstorming acts of kindness and choosing a few to do together as a family. For instance, picking up trash at the park, volunteering at a retirement home, or making pictures/cards for soldiers.
  • Buying plain Christmas stockings and decorating them.
  • Family game nights, puzzle nights, or Christmas movie nights.
  • Participate in outdoor public Christmas activities such as carriage rides, holiday parades, or light festivals.

Wishing Your Food Allergy Family the Happiest of Holidays

Lauren and I know that the holidays can be a stressful time for food allergy families.

If you are new to the food allergy life and are wondering how this will look for future events and traditions, we hope this post gave you hope that plenty of joy and beautiful memories await your precious family.

As Lauren likes to say, “My kids are going to live their best lives.”

Food allergies are a part of our lives, but they do not define our children or us. Together, we will support each other along this journey and find ways to create wonderful new experiences.

Happy holidays, beloved mommas. <3


What to Read Next: My Secret Fear As A Food Allergy Mom

Leave a Reply