Step 4: Keep doing this until Christmas Day.
Step 1: Make the Box
Materials: an empty shoe box, Christmas wrapping paper, sharp scissors (parental use only), clear tape, red and green craft paper, a small Christmas gift bag or a Christmas cup or something to hold slips of paper and pens (you could make a craft out of decorating a tin can or a cup or even a craft to decorate the pen) and an envelope.
1. Wrap the box with the lid off and wrap the lid separately. You will need to tape the wrapping paper inside the box to keep the seams clean.
2. Once the box and lid are wrapped cut a slit on the top.
3. Cut little slips of paper from the red and green paper and place these in your small gift bag/cup/tin along with some pens.
4. Write the year on the envelope and place that inside the box.
Step 5: Read the slips of paper on Christmas Morning.
On Christmas Day, after the excitement of seeing what Santa has brought and after opening gifts, we take turns reading the slips of paper from the box. You could read them before you open presents, or while you are opening them (before each gift is opened). Make your own tradition.
Step 3: Introduce the Christmas Spirit Box
Show your family the box and explain you will all be filling it up with the true meaning of Christmas. Every day (we do this at dinnertime) pass around a slip of paper and a pen to every family member. On the slip of paper write down either something you are thankful for or something kind you did for someone else. Put the slip of paper into the box. We don’t tell each other what we have written at this point, but your family could if you want to.
NOTE: When my kids were very small they would tell me what to write and I’d often leave the last word for them to write. I’d encourage my sons to print it down with help. We love looking at the slips of paper and seeing the scribbles our boys made when they were tiny. When my Youngest was a baby I would ask Big Brother what he thought his Baby Brother was thankful for. Again, the sweet answers are a treasure to read.
Step 2: Family Discussion
Have a family discussion about the true Spirit of Christmas, focusing of gratitude, love, kindness and giving. If you are Christian you might want to do this on the first weekend of Advent or even the weekend before, reminding your children that Christmas if about the Birth of Christ and not about receiving gifts. If you aren’t religious you can talk about being grateful and about the power of random acts of kindness.
Step 6: Return the slips of paper to the Spirit of Christmas Box.
Keep the slips in the envelope marked with the year on it. When the next Christmas Season arrives and we take out our Christmas Spirit Box we enjoy reading the papers from previous years out load during dinner. It is fun to see what we’ve written and often reminds us of happy memories from years past.
We like to read last year's Spirit of Christmas papers on Thanksgiving!
I came up with this idea many years ago when my Eldest was 5 years old and my Youngest a baby. I wanted to start a Christmas tradition that lasts for all of December and focuses on the true spirit of Christmas, as opposed to all the hustle and bustle and commercialism that has come to encircle this holiday. I wanted my children to focus on giving and to think about all the big and little things around them that filled them with gratitude. This was how our Christmas Spirit box began.