While he was growing up, my husband’s family's Christmas tradition was to put their shoes outside their bedroom doors beginning 12 days before Christmas in hopes that Santa’s elves would leave a present.
Now, it is the tradition of our family, and our children say it is their favorite part of Christmas.
The presents are usually something small, such as a roll of bubble tape, an ornament or something that would normally be placed in a stocking. On the last day, the elves leave pajamas.
This tradition has been an amazing daily incentive for homework, chores and being kind to one another.
This year, however, our family wanted to focus more on giving than receiving. We decided we needed to start a new tradition in correlation with the elves' visits.
So we chose to do 12 days of gifts for some deserving neighbors. We talked about people as a family and let our boys help us with this process. Each boy eventually chose a family. We wrapped gifts together and then let the boys deliver them.
This has been a great way to help our children focus on others daily instead of themselves. While they still anticipate what they will receive in their shoes and want to quickly go to bed each night, they also anticipate delivering gifts to neighbors. Our boys are just as excited about giving as they are about receiving each night.
My hope is that our family can continue to create traditions that balance out the giving with all the receiving that comes this time of year.
Brittany Jones lives in Herriman, Utah, with her husband and three boys. She enjoys sharing ideas about family life, organizing and decorating on her blog http://brittsbroadcast.blogspot.com.