This was the first year it felt like my kids might be getting too big for hot chocolate on the Santa train, a ride on the horse drawn carriage to Santa village, or the traditional trek to sit on Santa’s lap. So instead, we set out to mark some new traditions.
I know you are never really too old for any of these time-honoured holiday traditions, but with my kids all approaching their teen years I started thinking seriously about new family fun we could have now that they are older. Turns out, you don’t necessarily need to come up with all new ideas, you just need to add an older twist to some of your favorites.
Crazy Santa Photos
Get creative with this years Santa photo and have fun with your teens. Show up in their pajamas and a big bowl of popcorn, bring BFFs and take photos with friends instead of siblings, include the family pet, or take a photo with Mom and Dad on Santa’s lap and kick the kids off!
Make our Own Gingerbread House
Skip the kit and have the kids make their own gingerbread house out of graham crackers. Prepare royal icing using meringue powder from the bulk food store with less water so it is thick and put into a squeeze bottle. Use as glue to have the kids assemble 4 square graham crackers to make the base and add two more to create a tent style roof. Let icing dry. Mix more royal icing in a variety of colours and put into squeeze bottles, purchase different mini candies to use as decoration, add a few Christmas tunes and you have a teen party and a fun new tradition.
Decorate Crazy Cookies
Years ago I put the royal icing in squeeze bottles and handed the job of decorating shortbread and gingerbread cookies over to the kids. The result was crazy sugar overloaded pink and blue cookies that everyone - besides the Martha Stewart types - think are works of art. Turn those gingerbread men upside down to create Reindeer or look for new lemon cookie or chocolate square recipes the kid can claim as their own.
Dress Up and Run
Check your community events for fun Santa Runs or walks, then deck out the dog, put on the runners, grab some friends, and start a new tradition of a Santa run or walk for fun. Everyone is jolly when you are dressed up as Santa with 2,000 other runners!
Explore your local trails and parks and get outdoors for a wintery walk. Make it a yearly tradition with peppermint hot chocolate and caroling in the woods.
You can’t top babies first Christmas or photos of your toddler crying on Santa’s lap, but you can continue some great family Christmas traditions with kids even when they think they are too old for fun when the jolly old elf comes to town.
It can be that easy. In many ways my energetic friends have shaped who I am (pun intended!). All I had to do was decide I was going to show up and the adventures have followed.
Don’t have any friends that think hiking in the winter snow is fun? Invite someone else. No one you hang with wants to go to muscle pump or Pilates class? Go anyway, your new friends are there waiting for you. Neighbours think you are crazy for getting up early on the weekend to go for a run? Join a run club where everyone else runs further, faster and goes earlier than you do and then see who the crazy one is.
The right friends can make the difference between you briefly thinking about being active and you actually getting out there to enjoy the glow of rosy cheeks.
As a new writer for YummyMummyClub you will quickly figure out that we are a very active outdoorsy family and that everything we do is usually our friends fault. I blame who we hang out with for all the crazy stuff we get involved in. Getting up at 7am on weekends is not my idea of fun, but I’m so glad I do it once I meet up with running friends. Skiing every weekend in -20 weather was never on my bucket list, but the winter fun we have with friends takes the chill off. Riding my bike in the pouring rain is something I swore I would never do, but my training friends got me across my first triathlon finish line in the worst weather. I even blame those friends for our new puppy, but that is a story for another time!
I am often told I am super active but to me I am just keeping up with the energetic friends I have chosen to surround myself with. They inspire me, they motivate me, and they have the best ideas.
My active friends make the most of everyday and, despite the weather, they get out there.
I know I am the one who takes on the new adventures and sets the goals for myself, but it is usually someone else’s idea. With their encouragement and support I have trained for and completed a 70.3 Ironman, summited Mt Kilimanjaro, joined a ski club, run a half marathon in the heat of Barbados and the cold winter snow. These life experiences and accomplishments have happened because I spend time with people who are more active, more outgoing and more energetic than myself.
Friends have a way of influencing our lives. Choose them wisely.
My coworkers, neighbours and long time school friends who I go to movies and dinner with, I cherish the time our families spend together. From my yoga friends I achieve the calm moments everyone needs, my book club friends encourage discussion and have me reading again, and my crafty friends rekindle my creative side.
If it is a more active lifestyle you seek, join a new class, a new gym, an outdoor adventure group, a learn to run, swim, or bike group. Take up spinning, become involved in yoga, learn to rock climb or sail. At all of these places I guarantee you will find people who want to do the same things you do. Make a commitment to join these new friends and be open to all the crazy ideas they propose.
If you want change to happen, you need to make a change.
Find people who enjoy, support and excel at that things you want to do. You will be inspired and motivated and gain many new adventures from these new friends and in turn will become an inspiration yourself.
So who wants to be my new friend?
As a brand new writer for YummyMummyClub, I am thrilled to have a comfy place to share all the fun that goes into raising a house full of daughters and the simple secrets I’ve learned along the way that keep my family healthy, active and outdoors.
Like you I’m busy being busy with work during the day and on the move chauffeuring kids around to a zillion activities at night. No time to clean, to cook, to shop or to read, so I’ve found some simple ways to get the kids involved in making school lunches (so I don’t have to), to serve spinach for dessert ('cause no one here will eat it otherwise), found the perfect gadget to make them think washing floors is cool, and taught them a healthy way to make their own mac 'n cheese.
I look forward to sharing my secrets and hearing yours, because it takes a village to raise healthy families and keep pace with our active kids. Here are five things I like to incorporate into our meals to help seek balance:
Eating healthy can seem so daunting, and turning out 3 balanced meals a day nearly impossible, but it doesn’t take a degree in nutrition, an extensive cookbook collection, or a detailed menu plan to do it. Thank goodness, because I’m too tired and too busy for all that!
Keeping school lunches and weeknight meals simple when families are in a hurry is key and including these 5 essentials will go a long way to making the meals we scramble to put together balanced and a little more nutritious.
The center of every meal should be a source of protein and that doesn’t have to be red meat. Protein is an important building block for bones, muscles, skin and blood but unlike fat and carbohydrates, your body does not store protein so you need a steady supply from each meal.
Protein for dinner: fish, chicken, tofu, cottage cheese, beans, peas, or quinoa are perfect.
Protein for lunch: cheese, tuna, nuts, roasted chickpeas or edamame beans.
Protein for breakfast: eggs, oatmeal, Greek yogurt, peanut butter and chia seeds are loaded with protein.
Fiber keeps you feeling full, prevents heart disease, helps regulate blood sugar levels and aids in digestion by keeping things moving. The average female needs 25grams of fiber a day and most men need 38grams, yet the average intake for adults is only 15grams.
Fiber for Dinner: peas, sweet potato, broccoli, okra, barely, bulgur, whole grain pasta, rice.
Fiber for Lunch: leafy greens in a salad, beans, hummus, pears, roasted chick peas or edamame beans.
Fiber for Breakfast: oatmeal, raspberries, blackberries, prunes, whole grain cereals.
Calcium is just as important for preventing brittle bones in adults as it is for growing healthy bones in our children. 99% of your bodies calcium is stored in your bones and if your body does not get enough calcium from food, it will take calcium from your bones, making them weaker.
Calcium for Dinner: greens such as kale, broccoli, Chinese cabbage contain calcium.
Calcium for Lunch: low fat milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese.
Calcium for Breakfast: fortified orange juice and cereals.
Real fruit is full of vitamin C, of antioxidants, fiber, potassium and even folate. To ensure you are getting the benefit of all the different vitamins in fruits, mix it up and introduce new fruits often. Avoid too many fruit juices, instead send fruit to school, serve fruit at dinner and use fresh fruit to top everything at breakfast and dessert.
Fruit for Dinner: mango salsa on fish, sliced pear on salad, pineapple grilled on the BBQ, grapes and green apples in the curry make dinner complete.
Fruit for Lunch: sliced apples, chopped melon, grapes, strawberries or avocado.
Fruit for Breakfast: oranges, blueberries, banana, blend a fruit smoothie.
You can’t dispute vegetables are good for us, but getting the family to eat their vegetables is generally a struggle. Find vegetables the whole family enjoys and make those part of your weekly grocery shopping – there is nothing wrong with eating broccoli every week. Offer at least 2 different vegetable choices at meals for picky eaters and find creative ways to sneak the vegetables they don’t like into pureed soups or stews or even baked goods!
Vegetables for Dinner: corn, broccoli, green beans, peas, sweet potatoes, try them all.
Vegetables for Lunch: carrot sticks or sliced peppers with a dip, spinach salad.
Vegetables for Breakfast: take your fruit smoothie to a new level by adding kale, beets, zucchini or spinach.
Mix it up, experiment, toss extra veggies or beans into pre packaged casseroles, soups and stews to add protein, fibre and extra nutrients. Include berries on top of ice cream or breakfast cereal and enjoy the added benefits of balancing a small part of your family life!
Image Source (header only) WikiCommons
This is Deb's first post at her new blog Family on the Run at for YummyMummyClub. Come back and see her often for great tips on getting - and keeping - kids healthy, as well as stories about balancing family fitness with real world pleasures - like brownies.