In many ways, Christmas is a time that we enjoy many family traditions as we celebrate the birth of Christ.  Many families have special things that they do each year in preparation or celebration.  For most of us, the Christmas season is not complete without trimming the tree, making some yummy treats, and searching for that special present for a loved one.  Letter’s to Santa, Christmas PJ’s, an ornament to commemorate the year, reading the Christmas story, helping someone in need, attending Christmas Eve service, Christmas stockings, the Christmas menu…these are some of the variety of traditions that find their way into our celebration of God’s greatest gift to mankind.

I love Christmas traditions, both playful and sacred.  I have countless wonderful memories neatly wrapped around the traditional ways that my family celebrates the birth of Christ.  Over the next two days I want to share with you two traditions that we enjoy in our family–one that brings lots of laughs and one that brings a sweet touch of scripture into our family time.

Let’s start with the fun one–mainly because if you want to do this with your family, you may need to take yet another trip to the store–groan groan.  Yes, I know it would have been helpful if I had posted this a few weeks ago, but I just didn’t think about it.  So be it.

Each year on Christmas Eve we enjoy attending church and having a quiet time enjoying the ambiance of reading the Christmas story around the Christmas tree.  After something yummy to eat and a little hot cocoa, we stir things up a little with a game we call The Grab Bag.

Inside a large bag are an odd assortment of practical and silly gifts.  Once the giftys are collected, I tie yarn or string around them, place them in a bag that you can’t see through, and wa-lah…we are ready for some fun!

The Grab Bag in action.

The Grab Bag is passed around until the bag is empty ( I usually plan for 3 times around).  Take your time and enjoy the frivolity that comes with each persons reaction to their prize.

Some treasures  I gather from around the house…like a roll of toilet paper or fun photo from the year.  Others I borrow from my stocking stuffer stash…maybe a bottle of mouth wash (used could be an interesting twist..) or a pair of ladies stockings.  Then there are the dollar store items…things like a tacky figurine, a birthday party favor, a kid’s toy, a mug, a pack of post-it-notes, a candy bar…you get the idea.

Everyone can enjoy a little spa treatment.

Of course, there is often a lot of bartering and trading that goes on as folks try to redistribute gifts to the person that might best use the item…  For instance, this gift only fit one person in the family

Don’t forget the dog! They like the Grab Bag too!

The best part of The Grab Bag includes the gag gifts and inside joke gifts that are mixed in.  Here again, the dollar store is your friend.  Fake tattoos, grungy Halloween teeth, colorful wigs, those silly headbands with Christmas stuff springing out the top, Rudolph’s nose, a bag of coal…are a few of the funnies that have shown up in our grab bag over the years.

Need a nose ball roller? Japanese 100 yen stores had some unusual items…

One year there was one pink fuzzy child’s slipper that was pulled out of the back by our ten year old son.  He loved that!  Everyone always gets a chuckle when an adult pulls out a kid thing or a kid recieves an adult thing.  When my daughter was six, she pulled out a queen-sized pair of nylons in a Leggs egg (remember those?).  She laughed so hard when she saw those and proceeded to unwrap them and try to put them on over her cute little Christmas PJs.  Last year, I found a santa suit at the 100 yen store…

What would you like for Christmas, Daddy?

Then there are the inside jokes.  One year that we were with my brother on Christmas Eve, I thought of something we used to laugh about growing up.  When we were teenagers we used to have this running joke about my mom’s extra freezer in the basement.  We would reach in and see who could pull out the oldest item.  You see, my mom was very organized and labeled everything…such as cupcakes from Jenny Jone’s birthday, June 1982.  You never knew what kind of pre-historic treasure you might find lurking in the back corner of the bottom shelf.  Anyway, that year, I pulled a pack of porkchops from Mom’s freezer, wrapped them in foil and wrote, “Porkchops, 1975” on the foil.  Luck of the draw was truly with me on this one when my brother just happened to be the one to pull out the chops!  At first, he had no idea what incredible treasure he had received.  I think the foil threw him off.  As soon as he figured out the joke, he laughed harder than I have ever seen him laugh.  It is probably one of the few times in my life I have ever pulled one over on him.  Let me tell you, it felt good!

Just in case her cell phone breaks…

As you can see, there is lots of room for fun and creativity with The Grab Bag.  I hope you will enjoy trying this with your family this year.  If you do, let me know how it goes!  We can all store up a few grab bag ideas for next year.  By the way, the after Christmas sales is a great time to stock up Grab Bag items for next year.

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