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If you’re looking to start a new holiday tradition, this one promotes togetherness and can be full of fun for everyone! Seriously, who doesn’t love a campout? The best part is that it works for kids, adults, families, and friends of all ages and can be created to suit your own particular needs.
The tradition is simple: Choose one December night to camp out under the tree. We do so on Christmas Eve, but if you’re worried about waking resident kiddos when Santa visits you can make another choice like the day you set up and decorate your tree (Thanksgiving is totally fine!), Christmas Day, Saint Nicholas Day, or any cold and snowy December night!
The first couple of years in our home everyone simply grabbed a sleeping bag and a pillow. Since then, we’ve invested in a kind of roll out mat which is definitely cozier and lends itself to other sleepover events during the year. You can also use a sofa bed or simply drag in a huge mattress for everyone to cozy up on.
Fun Variations on the Theme
- If you’re single watch Bridget Jones and order some takeout!
- Host a Girls’ Night event with togetherness and self-care.
- If you’re a couple without kiddos add some romantic touches like a fire or candlelight, wine, chocolate, and christmas music.
- If you have little ones you can pretend to listen for reindeer on the roof, look at everyone’s baby books or some photo albums for fun, or enjoy a themed movie night.
Take It To The Next Level!
The tradition of camping out under your Christmas tree couples very well with other FREE or FRUGAL family traditions like:
Candy Cane Party Games | Candy Cane Pick-Up-Sticks or Bobbing for Candy Canes. Keep the candy canes wrapped for both games.
Candy Cane Pick-Up-Sticks | Players take turns trying to remove one candy cane from the pile without disturbing any remaining candy canes. If a candy cane is disturbed the player leaves the candy cane in the pile. If the chosen candy cane is removed without disturbing any others the player may keep the candy cane. The player who has collected the most candy canes at the end of the game wins!
Bobbing for Candy Canes | Each player holds a candy cane in her mouth at the straight end with the curved end facing out. Take turns trying to hook as many candy canes as possible within the allotted time (30 seconds or one minute). The winner has collected the most candy canes using only their own at the end. Make the game more challenging by using smaller candy canes!
Christmas Book Flood (Jólabókaflóð) | In Iceland it is common to exchange books (actual physical books – not ebooks) and read together on Christmas Eve while enjoying hot chocolate or another warm beverage. This can be a wonderful tradition to start if money is tight or if you are sick of noise from household electronics. Have a look in your neighborhood for a Little Free Library or in your local thrift store (ours has books priced as low as 49 cents).
The Night Before Christmas | A classic, all time family favorite book best read by candlelight Christmas Eve.
Movie Night | There are wonderful films which lend themselves especially well to a Christmas movie night including Rudolph, The Grinch, Home Alone, Miracle on 34th Street, and so many more. Choose your favorite (and visit your library to borrow them for FREE)! Here are a couple ideas to get you started:
Elf | This movie is perfect for a silly sing-a-long!Activate the subtitles on your copy of this favorite film and croon away! Baby, it’s cooooold outsiiiiiiide!
Polar Express | Cozy up with some hot cocoa and marshmallows to watch this visual masterpiece.
Music | Sing, play, or listen to your favorite tunes by the light of the tree. Choose more upbeat music earlier in the evening and something mellower later on to help lull little ones to sleep.
No Tree? No problem! | If there isn’t a lot of money for Christmas extras including a tree, consider scavenging for an evergreen branch and watching A Charlie Brown Christmas.