Most people think of Christmas as a huge celebration gathered around the tree with ones they love. I love Christmas, it is my favorite holiday. I love sentimental gifts, hosting family gatherings, and opening gifts around the tree. That was until I had kids.
No, I still love Christmas but watching my kids open an overwhelming number of toys that they’ll play with one time. Toys that promote them to be entertained and less imaginative. Toys that encourage more self-play than back and forth play. Toys that ended up donated months later. So much focus on finding the right gifts, so much focused on rushing around, so much time wasting money instead of quality family time.
Our work schedules allowed us to have more time off and Mike and I started asking ourselves, “What what if we gave our kids less things and more experiences.” So, we started making Christmas as time for us as a family to go somewhere new, make memories, see Christmas lights we haven’t seen before, and experience new things together. To be honest, it is my favorite family tradition.
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We have spent two Christmas Eve’s and two Christmas Days in a hotel, and I am pretty sure we will spend this Christmas in a hotel as well. I know you may be thinking that is not very festive. However, hotel Christmas mornings have been pretty amazing for us.
We get to visit somewhere new, fewer distractions, and more time that is focused on being together. We can slow down without the rush to be somewhere and simply enjoy the low key family time.
Spending Christmas in a hotel isn’t as bad as it seems, so whether you are catching a flight or taking a road trip to visit family or simply checking out a new city you can still make Christmas morning magical in your hotel room.
DECIDED ON A DESTINATION TOGETHER
We pick destination as a family, we talk to the kids about our options and we discuss all the fun things that we can see at each place and decide together where we want to go. Right now, Logan and Olivia are pretty young and pretty much go with the flow.
A Christmas visit in Nashville was a sealed deal with ICE featuring Charlie Brown, a favorite of both kids. If you are going out of town to visit family, check out the local events and see if there are any fun family events happening while you are there.
FIND THE RIGHT HOTEL
Once we have a destination we look for the right hotel for us as a family. If we are spending some holiday time at the hotel I like for our room to have a small kitchenette. Having the kitchenette let us do some Christmas festivities together like baking cookies and popping popcorn for a Christmas movie. Olivia is a huge fan of the Grinch Who Stole Christmas and we must have some goodies while watching it. I also bring along the matching Christmas jammies because what is Christmas Eve without matching jammies. Though sometimes they refuse to wear them.
Since I know a lot of things will be closed on Christmas, getting a hotel with a swimming pool and on-site entertainment can be an extra win for everyone. Most people in the hotel will be out and about visiting family so we generally can have the pool all to ourselves and our kids love a good time at the pool, especially in the winter. The kids love playing elf hat ring toss while in the pool.
We also have a lot of safety considerations when traveling with Logan, these are the safety considerations we take before booking a room.
BRING SOME DECORATIONS
I have a small Christmas Tree that comes with lights that we bring along with us on our trips. We spend Christmas Eve reading The Night Before Christmas, making cookies, and decorating our little tree. The ornaments are small, easy to travel with, and have withheld a couple road trips.
Before your trip stop pick up some garland, window clings, and spray snow and decorate your hotel windows together. This is an activity both my kids love and really which kid doesn’t love spraying snow on a window.
There are tons of fun Christmas activities that you can easily bring along with you. Gingerbread houses are a great and fun family activity. Logan loves taking the candy off the gingerbread house. Olivia is more of a crafty child so a sticker gingerbread house would better suit her. I love a good game of pin the nose on Rudolf which can always result in lots of silly giggles.
THE SANTA TALK
Santa is a huge deal for little kids, the magic of Christmas rest on Santa’s shoulders. Eeekk, and I thought my job was rough. Last year was the first time that my kids really understood that Santa was coming. They hear their cousins talk about it, they see the shows, they feel the magic. So, I explained to them that we will be away for Christmas so we have to let Santa know by writing him a letter to the North Pole. This lets my kids still feel the magic of Christmas and know that Santa can find them and gets them in the mindset that we will not be home for Christmas.
I also get a key that I spray with glitter spray and pack it up in a box and have it on the counter for the kids to find. I explain that this key is from Santa and it is a magically key and can open any door that we are staying at. Last Christmas, Olivia was insistent that Santa needed to know where we were. So, I walked her down to the front lobby, handed them our magical key and the staff at the front desk and they were very helpful in reassuring her that they would be sure that Santa would find her there. There are some really neat kits available that leave easy to clean Santa footprints which are always the best highlight on Christmas morning. There are also pretty neat apps that you can download that will place Santa in the photo of your house or hotel.
We don’t go all out for Christmas gifts. Many people who know me will laugh at reading that comment because my family growing up liked to do big hauls for Christmas, lots of toys, clothes, many trash bags of wrapping paper, and at times it seems like endless gifts. My kids get one toy from Santa, it generally is the toy they have been wanting, wrapped in a big red bow and surprise… they are happy with that.
If you don’t have room to pack gifts then you can have gifts sent to your hotel ahead of time. If you have reservations, simply calling ahead and letting them know that you will have a package delivered is all it takes. I do recommend with the holiday delivery rush having your package sent a day or two earlier, just in case. I usually Amazon the gifts so I can track the shipping and ensure the gifts will be there.
A hotel at Christmas can be as magical as you can make it with a little prep and planning. Keep things simple, bring a small tree, some decorations, and enjoy your time together as a family and memories that will long outlast the toys. Just don’t forget Santa’s milk and cookies.
Comment below with your favorite Christmas traditions? Do you carry on old family traditions or have you created some new fun traditions?