For those of us who are “empty-nesters” Christmastime can be pretty nostalgic. I love Christmas, but now that our children are grown, so many of our family traditions have ended. Rather than getting maudlin and sad during the time of year that should be the most joyful of all, I decided to continue to make new traditions…but traditions for my husband and myself! We will still, of course, share Christmas with our grown children and family, but now, when we are often “just the two of us”, the following list is helping to make our empty-nest Christmas special!

1.  Decorate the House – It is fun, festive, and it puts you in the holiday spirit!

2.  Christmas Tree Hunting – Go to a Christmas tree farm and go “hunting”! It’s a fun way to be outside and do something together. There are many lots in the towns, but if you are close to an area where there are tree farms, I recommend it! Often the farms have festive music and hot cocoa available…and even hay rides!

3.  Go on a Sleigh Ride – We don’t live where it snows, however just a short drive “up the hill” and we are at Lake Tahoe! One of my favorite memories from recent Christmases is taking a sleigh ride through the woods! Check the internet directory for places to do this near you!

4.  Give Some of Yourself – Organizations such as Operation Christmas Child, Toys for Tots, Angel Tree or other charities are a great way to give back at Christmas!

5.  Attend a Christmas Concert or Play – Local events are numerous at this time of year! Check your city’s online schedule or newspaper.

6.  Community Activities - Watch a holiday parade or go to your local tree lighting ceremony!

7.  Christmas Crafts – Crafts don’t have to be intricate, but there is something so “homey” about making a Christmas ornament, card or gift for someone! Check Pinterest for loads of ideas!

8.  Advent Calendars – Besides the traditional Advent Calendars which count down each day in December until Christmas, you can make your own version! Each day you could do something nice for each other, read a particular scripture verse, or do a fun activity. Be creative!

9.  Christmas Baking – There are so many great recipes out there to try! I like to make toffee to give out at Christmastime. I could never make candy when I was younger, but then I purchased an inexpensive candy thermometer and it became a cinch! (Silly me!) Baking Christmas cookies and decorating them as a couple is a lot of fun, too. Plus, it makes the house smell great!

10. Watch a Holiday Movie (or two or three…) - We have our favorite classics such as “It’s a Wonderful Life”, “Miracle on 34th Street”, “Elf” and “A Christmas Story”, but there are many others out there to choose.

11. Check Out a Christmas Store or Nursery - Local botanical gardens and many nurseries host Christmas events or open houses this time of year. There is a nursery about an hour away from us that is definitely worth the drive! They showcase thousands of different and unique Christmas decorations in a festive atmosphere. We like to follow up our browsing with lunch or dinner at a local eatery.

12. Find a Christmas Lights Tour in your area or simply drive through the many beautifully decorated neighborhoods near you! Some of the displays are pretty spectacular, but even the modest row of lights on a rooftop is festive!

13. Go on a Holiday House Tour – Many towns host holiday house tours where you can visit local homes that have been decorated (inside & out) for Christmas! This is a great way to get ideas for your own home! 

14. Listen to Christmas Music – Turn on the radio, pop in a CD or make a Christmas favorites disk to listen to throughout the day…and in years to come! 

15. Dress Up – Choose an evening to get dressed up in your holiday finest! Even if you don’t have a party to go to, put on an outfit that is usually saved for some special event. Have a nice meal in or a date night out! (Why not?) 

16. Go To The Snow - There is something about playing in the snow that puts me in the Christmas mood! Even though I’m an adult, going sledding, making snowmen or snow angels and throwing snowballs is a lot of fun! For those who want a bit more exercise, try snow shoeing! While out, collect pinecones to add to your Christmas decorations! 

17. Cook a Meal Together – Choose something fun, easy, but festive. Homemade pizza is always a good choice, or make a meal of hors d'oeuvres! If you have a fireplace, pull the table over and eat by the hearth! 

18. Have a Bonfire - Bundle up, sit outside around a fire pit and watch the stars. Bring hot cocoa, cider or other hot beverage – a hot toddy?  (Be sure to check your local fire restrictions for the day.) 

19. Window Shop – Go to the historic part of your town (or one nearby) and enjoy the atmosphere! Quite often the shop keepers go all out when it comes to decorating and adding to the Christmas mood! 

20. Remember Why We’re Celebrating – Most important of all, remember why we are celebrating this season! Attend a candlelight service, read the book of Luke, develop your relationship with Christ, and thank God for His gift of Jesus our Savior!

Blessings to you for a special Christmas season!

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  1. bluecottonmemoryDecember 08, 2013

    Wonderful ideas Joan - empty nest or not. Tonight we decorated the tree to White Christmas. The snow missed us - but cannot wait for it to come. Wishing you blessings and joy this special season!

  2. Oh I loved these. I'm not an empty nester yet, but I would love to do so many of these, a sleigh ride being at the top of my list!

  3. Joan....what a sweet list! So many of those ideas would work for us now. (We still have teenagers in the house. but still...) Thank you for the link up and for the encouragement. Have a blessed week.

  4. Can you believe I've never seen the movie White Christmas?? (I know...amazing!) However, I put it in my Netflix queue a few days ago, so this year will be the year! I'm glad you liked the ideas listed. May your Christmas season be blessed!

    In His grip, Joan

  5. If a sleigh ride is at the top of your list...there are great sleighs pulled by HUGE horses at Stateline, NV. When you get in line, it looks like it is right by the road, but then the driver takes you along a wonderful trail through the woods. They have plenty of blankets to cover your legs to stay warm! We loved it! Blessings, Joan

  6. Yes, when we have teens, not all of the traditions from when they were children will work, so adding new traditions, like those in this list, adds new memories! However, I bet you'll be surprised that doing something you did when they were tiny will still bring a smile to their faces (whether they admit it or not! Ha ha! Merry Christmas! Joan

  7. Hi Joan. What a great idea for a post. We empty-nesters often get left out of the picture : )
    Lots of good ideas in this post too.
    And I would add in one more on the end: don't do any of the Christmas stuff that wears you out...that's one benefit of not having to be in charge of the holiday like we were for so many years. When it's my year to have family, I decorate, but every other year when my children go to in-laws I actually enjoy being more relaxed about things. It took me a while to realize I didn't have to put up a tree for it to be Christmas. And my hubby and I actually enjoy the slower, less "festive" pace, if that makes sense. : )
    But I love the many great ideas you have here. Thanks for sharing them and thinking of empty-nesters.

  8. I so agree with not wearing ourselves out! I remember it used to be such a frantic time of year. Now, it is very relaxed and we are able to enjoy the quiet times more. Yes...I didn't want to leave the empty-nesters out. Whenever I "googled" or searched in Pinterest for activities at Christmas, they were always ones that had things like writing to Santa, etc. That just made me sentimental. So...voila! A post was born! Blessings to you this Christmas season, Gail!

    In His grip, Joan

  9. What a nice list! Happy Christmas preparation!

  10. Thanks, Anders! Happy Christmas season to you!

  11. Today, beauty is found in learning patience, and in knowing that I never, ever walk alone!


  12. Yes, definitely! And God is trustworthy to supply all we need!

    Blessings! Joan

  13. This is our first Christmas as empty-nesters, though our son will be home for part of the Christmas Holiday. We have done some of the things on your list already. Some of them we did before our son moved out, which has made doing them as a couple a bit picking out a tree...we loved doing that all together, but will be getting our tree this year by ourselves. Thanks for sharing these great ideas!

  14. I must admit that being an empty-nester can be difficult, especially at first. But, I'm trying to stay positive. The traditions may be different than they used to be, but still beautiful, you know? Blessings, Joan

  15. Laurie CollettDecember 11, 2013

    Great ideas. Joan! Thanks for hosting, & may you have a blessed Christmas season.

  16. Laurie CollettDecember 12, 2013

    Great ideas. Joan! Thanks for hosting, & may you have a blessed Christmas season. Laurie

  17. Thanks, Laurie! I pray you enjoy a wonderful Christmas season as well!

    Blessings, Joan


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