There is something magical about the Christmas season. Twinkly lights and Christmas cookies. Sparkly snowflakes and festive decorations. Family and friends coming together, well maybe Zooming together this year, to celebrate.
And, if this is your little one's first Christmas, it will be that much more magical. As the mom of a two and a half-year-old, I can confirm that the wonder of Christmas through your child's eyes is just as good as experiencing it yourself as a kid.
Now, that's not to say that your first Christmas won't be filled with not so magic moments. The inevitable diaper leak on the perfectly curated outfit, the Christmas card photo shoot that Baby won't stop crying through, and the realization that Baby is afraid of the sound of wrapping paper being torn.
With a little planning and a backup outfit or two, you can make Baby's first Christmas special for them and the whole family.
Seasonal Activities for Your Christmas Newbie
While this year may not look like your past holidays, there are still so many Christmas-themed activities to do with your baby and a few you can save for future years.
The Handprint Ornament
This almost feels like a right of passage for babies experiencing their first holiday go around and makes an excellent keepsake of baby's first Christmas. You can mix up some salt dough at home or buy yourself a kit. Amazon has endless options.
Personalize them with baby names and the year, and they will be a prized ornament to hand out each year.
My wife and I made these as gifts for the grandparents on our kiddo's first Christmas, and every one of them cried when they received them. We made our own salt dough, which was a little finicky, and we lost a few to cracks when we cooked them. So be sure to make extra if you're going DIY.
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Once you've captured their hands, it's time to go in for their cute little baby feet. A little green paint and a canvas or cardstock are all you need to get started. The Mistletoes craft makes an adorable gift or decoration you can pull out every year to see how much your little one has grown.
Christmas Themed Sensory Board
Sensory boards are all the rage right now, so why not make one themed around Christmas? This DIY from Toddler Approved is easy to make with items you probably already have on hand or lurking in your holiday boxes.
The premise is simple. Glue or attach holiday items (pinecones, wrapping paper, ribbons, a Santa hat, etc. ) to a foam board and allow your little one to explore and be curious. You can talk about what each item feels like, the colors, and what everything is called. Toddler Approved recommends turning the board into an eye spy game!
Our little guy was terrified of the sound of wrapping paper being ripped that first year, so this is also a good time to test the waters on all the new sensory experiences your baby is going to experience this fort year.
Decorate Their Room Too
Bring all the fun and festiveness of Christmas to the nursery and decorate their room with a little holiday spirit. You can go as simple as a small tree, placed out of reach of course, or full Buddy the Elf with paper chains and snowflakes.
Reading Christmas Books
Instead of the usual bedtime books, break out some holiday stories for night reading. This is a holiday tradition for many families, and you can even turn the activity into a Christmas countdown by wrapping 25 Christmas-themed books and opening one each day to read. This is better suited to babies that are a little older and can be repeated for years to come by wrapping the same books each year.
Save The Round From Your First Tree
If your family has a real tree, then you know a fresh cut to the base of the trunk makes your tree last way longer. Save that slice and turn it into a keepsake ornament by adding the year and drilling a tiny hole at the top and threading a ribbon through.
This is also a great activity for newlyweds celebrating their first Christmas as a married couple.
What You Can Skip On This Year
If you are a new parent, you may feel like you have to give your baby every experience this year. My advice is to focus on a few age-appropriate activities that work with their attention span and won't end in a meltdown.
These are a few activities you might want to hold off on until your kiddo is ready:
- Looking at Christmas Lights - If driving around and looking at lights is on your to-do list, but your baby can't stand the car seat, you may want to wait until they are a little older to share this experience. You can't see much rear-facing anyway.
- The Santa Visit - Hear me out. Depending on the age of your little one, you could be deep into the first stranger danger stage, and being handed off to a man in a bright red suit may be utterly terrifying. Yes, the picture may be important to you, but is it worth giving your little person a panic attack? Now, if you've got a newborn or an outgoing little person, by all means, get your Santa on.
- Christmas Dinner - It's time for a bit of reality. If your little one is happy to sit in their high chair or grandma's lap for an hour, then you're probably going to be ok. But if you've got a squirmy ants-in-your-pants almost one-year-old, be expecting to have to leave the table a few times and maybe even take a few trips outside.
The Christmas Tree
With a new baby in the house, your Christmas tree is going to have to withstand the hands of a curious little one and be safe, possibly even baby proofed. While many families opt for a smaller tree placed out of reach or a fence surrounding the tree, others simply ensure the tree cannot be pulled over by tethering it to the wall and placing breakable ornaments high on the tree and out of danger.
Our first year, we skipped the real tree and went with a fake, pre-lit tree with zero ornaments. We also only put presents out that were going to be opened immediately, as those curious little fingers were ready to unwrap everything.
Baby's First Christmas Ornament
Unless specifically told not to, chances are grandparents and family members are going to gift your little one a Baby's 1st Christmas Ornament. We were given seven, no joke. This is one item you can scratch off your purchase list.
While 2020 may have disappointed us for many reasons, the selection of Baby's First Ornaments does not disappoint.
Here are a few worth hinting at, all under $20:
Holiday Jingle Crescent Moon Amazon, $15 - The silver ornament's simplicity with a classic red ribbon and year will look good on your tree for years to come.
Our First Christmas as a Family Rustic Wooden Ornament Amazon $18 - If a rustic look fits more in your holiday aesthetic, this wooden ornament gets the whole family involved.
Baby's First Christmas Ceramic Ornament, Amazon $15- This ornament is personalized with Baby's name and year and can even be changed to "First Hanukkah" instead of "First Christmas."
Related: Parenting Stories on ChatterSource
First Christmas Gifts
Since most babies under one-year-old are going to have more fun playing with the boxes than the presents themselves, the stress of nailing the perfect Christmas present can be totally let go for a few years. Stop scouring gift guides for babies and focus on a few things you need for them and a toy or two for their first ho-ho-holiday.
You've also only got a few years of being able to gift clothes without a groan, so this is a great time to take advantage of it.
Pro tip: Whatever your feelings on Black Friday are, you may need to put those aside. As your baby gets older, shopping, even online, will save you a ton of cash and be your only option to get some of those must-have options.
Here are five killer gift ideas for Baby's First Christmas:
Bearington is known for its super-luxe teddy bears, so this teddy rattle is a perfect gift for Baby. It's so cute you may not want to let Baby play with it!
Green Toys Disney Baby Minnie Mouse/ Mickey Mouse Stacker, Amazon $15
Green Toys is one of my most favorite brands of kids' toys. Everything they sell is safe, non-toxic, BPA free, phthalate free and made in the USA. Bonus, they are completely free from coatings, so they can go in Baby's mouth with no worries.
These stackables are perfect for a baby boy or baby girl. The pieces are very sturdy and fit well in those adorable tiny hands. Perfect for any Disney lover's little one.
Snowman Romper, Amazon $19
This romper gives us serious "Want to Build a Snowman" vibes and is a perfect addition to your baby's wardrobe. Not only will it keep Baby warm and cozy during the cold season, but it would also make an adorable outfit for your Christmas cards.
Diaper Subscription, $50 - $85/month
Diapers are spendy, and your baby is going to go through many of them. Be it Honest, Hello Bello or Dyper, this is the holiday gift that keeps on giving. My wife and I were given a year of Honest Diapers as a gift, and it was such a blessing! We loved the convenience so much we kept the subscription going. In fact, we still use it (and the prints are so cute).
This is a delivery service that even the littlest member of your family can enjoy.
100 First Words for Little Geeks, Uncommon Goods $10
This board book is a great gift idea for families that are a little on the nerdy side and will teach your baby all the important words from your favorite fandom. It's also a great introduction to science words!
Must Capture Moments
Now that the tree, gifts and activities are locked down, it's time to put your phone down and enjoy the holiday season with your little one. While you may want to catalog every single moment of this first Christmas with a photo, you are going to miss a lot if you are stuck behind the camera.
Here are five Christmas pictures you'll not want to miss that can also double as amazing holiday cards:
- Your baby gazing at the lights on the Christmas tree
- The families matching Christmas PJs
- The first experience with snow, nothing is cuter than a bundled up baby.
- The first sugar cookie. Add a My First Christmas bib and you've got an iconic holiday moment.
- Opening presents on Christmas morning. However, documenting every single present is not necessary. Stage this photo-op early for your holiday cards.
Bump's First Christmas
Even if you haven't hatched yet, it is equally as important and special if you are pregnant during the holiday season.
There are a plethora of "ugly" Christmas sweaters and themed tops that are especially funny when you are expecting and, if the timing is right, can make a hilarious way to announce you've got a bun in the oven.
Happy & Merry Everything
First Christmases are not just reserved for families with babies. If you've adopted or fostered a child this year, your first Christmas together is a chance to introduce them to their new family's holiday traditions and will be extra special to them, regardless of their age.
Our little guy crawled for the first time on Christmas morning, right under the Christmas tree. He was seven and a half months old, and it was such a great moment for our family. This will be our third Christmas together, and already he's so in love with the tree and the lights and, of course, seeing all the presents. He calls them "surprises," which is about the cutest thing.
He also thinks our Christmas stockings are just really big socks we've hung on the wall and doesn't remember that they get stuffed with goodies on Christmas morning.
Let's be real; your baby's first Christmas is really for you and your loved ones. Your baby won't remember or really know what's going on this first year. Don't stress yourself trying to cram in every experience.
You've got at least eighteen chances to make sure you hit everything.
You might also be interested in: The 25 Best Gifts for Toddlers [That They’ll Love]