Apr 4, 2010

Tinkering with tradition

Is there anything involved in the traditional holidays we have throughout the year that doesn't quite suit you, or seems like it could be improved upon? Here's a couple of changes we made this year and last year to have traditional events that suit us a little bit better. I'd love to hear if you have any examples of this sort of tinkering with tradition that has worked for you!


Easter egg hunts.

Over the last three years my kids have been involved in a few easter egg hunts. The most terrifying I think was a local comnunity "egg hunt" that consisted of a penned in circle of grass with candy strewn all over it and some kind of parent led fight to the death over said candy. All the other egg hunts have at least involved eggs and some form of hunting. Some have put a limit on the number of eggs each child could collect, to make it fair, but still there is a feel of not a lot more than the importance of personal gain.



Last year I wanted to have a small hunt in our garden for the kids, but didn't want it to be just a rush to see who could get the most for themselves, so came up with the idea of labelling up the eggs with the first letter of the child's name, so the kids had the same number of eggs each, just like in the egg hunts that put a limit on the number you could keep, but this time it meant that the whole hunt took on more of a team effort. You found an egg, you read the letter, determined who that egg belonged to, ran to them and gave it to them to go in their basket. This way the hunt wasn't finished for anyone until the very last egg had been found and given to the appropriate owner. It was everyone's responsibility to help find all the eggs.

This year we did it again with five kids, and it worked beautifully. The kids were really excited to give the egg to the right person. It was not that much more work to label up the eggs with the kid's initials either. I just did it with a sharpie pen. I'm dealing with kids between the ages of three and seven mostly, so it's a perfect age in that respect, because everyone knows their alphabet and requires no help in the hunt.

Two kids find an egg at the same time? Not a problem! They have to check it to see who it belongs to rather than fight over it. It might be for neither of them!

It also allows me to fill all the eggs with a range of toys and candies, making sure that each kid gets a bit of everything, rather than the pot luck of regular egg hunting, where one kid might end up with all the candy and another a pile of balloons or something.

Halloween trick or treating.

Trick or treating was never a big thing for me when I was growing up. Sadly it was done mostly by teenagers in masks, who for one night a year could knock on old people's doors and demand money without being arrested for it. I am really really happy that my kids get to have the childcentric US version of this holiday. The only thing that kind of doesn't sit well with me, is again the focus on personal gain. Going from house to house and being given more and more and more of something that you don't even need. Maybe I'm being a bit too sensetive about it, but I thought it would feel a lot better if we went from house to house and had something to give back to the people that were giving us candy.

Last year the kids helped to make a huge batch of halloween themed sugar cookies, which we bagged up and each house that we trick or treated at, the kids would also offer the residents some cookies. I wanted the whole thing to have more of an atmosphere of exchanging rather than taking. This is something we will definately continue doing in the future. Some of the people we gave cookies to were more than a little surprised by the departure from the norm, but they were all pleasantly surprised by it, and I think we are able to get away with this sort of "oddness" a little more easily, as you can tell from our accents that we aren't from around here ;)

Thanksgiving.


The first couple of years that we were in the US we were very kindly invited to the houses of some friends to experience a traditional American thanksgiving. We don't have this holiday in the UK of course, so we had no idea what was involved. The sweet potato with marshmallows melted on top was a bit of a shocker! Anyway, as the kids got older and our friend's kids all got older, it became more feasible for people to move around the country to be with family, so we found ourselves home alone on thanksgiving one year and weren't sure how to play it. I'm not one for traditional meal cooking (I think we had Christmas curry last year), so we figured it might be nice to just get out for a walk somewhere. This is how we started our thanksgiving lunch tradition of being sat on plastic shopping bags, whilst eating sandwiches in a damp forrest. Not sure how long the kids are going to indulge us on this one, but we'll see.


I'd love to hear in the comments what tweeks or changes you have made to traditional holidays for your families. Even odd adjustments that your parents or grandparents made that have now become your own family traditions themselves. That kind of stuff I love hearing about.

By the way, my five year old has started writing a sort of diary of her own volition. This page I think is the most awesomest pile of awesome!
She really does love making things! Whoooo!

The wee bits that I made for the girls to mess about with this easter were some dinky little sock rabbits, from a tutorial by Elsie Marley here.
And after seeing LiEr's hospital sock rabbits on Ikatbag earlier last week, I pulled out the pair that I was awarded just a week and a half ago and made one of them into a freaky looking chicken.
The chicken originally had twin chicks made from craft pompoms, but one has flown the nest it seems. I suspect it is in the dark depths of the foot well of the Nissan Dissapointment, probably freaking out because it's next to a decaying McNugget or something equally horrific.

30 comments:

Desiree said...

We never cook a turkey on Thanksgiving. No one in my family eats it, so we usually make whatever fancies us. That's about the only holiday we've tinkered with, oh and we've gone on a walk for Thanksgiving too. Love the cookie and Egg ideas!

Crazy Gecko said...

My father decided to keep us hunting for our easter eggs through our teenage and even early adult years by changing it from a scavenger hunt to a clued treasure hunt. He knew it had lost it's appeal as we got older so used to write clues for us to follow around the house and the garden. They got harder and harder as we got older. As each clue was solved we would find another egg aswell and pool them together and at the end divide them up equally between us. It was great fun and a tradition that has only stopped since my daughter was born and I don't get home for easter anymore.

Catherine Hansen Peart said...

I really love this idea of 'tinkering' to make it suit your family. Next easter egg hunt I do will be just like yours for sure! Brilliant. The only change I can remember making in our family was switching Christmas dinner to Christmas Eve instead of on the day as a special treat for our Danish grandmother and, loving it so much, we all kept that tradition. Makes Christmas Day so much more relaxed and enjoyable.

MaryAnne said...

I love your chicken, although I hope you don't acquire more hospital socks any time soon! My parents used to label Easter Eggs like that for our egg hunts, it worked brilliantly.

And your five-year-old's dairy page is fabulous!

Care said...

I love the egg hunt idea. We made a similar sort of adjustment two years ago, making sure each child had a color of egg they were to hunt for. It worked very nicely. Then this year (I was not in charge) it was a free-for-all. The older kids ended up with most everything. One of my boys (the quiet and deliberate one) ended up with very few. I do not love Easter egg hunts; nor do I love the idea that some random rabbit comes to your house to give your child a bunch of junk they don't need or, in the end, really even want.

I love your idea of having everything be a sort of team effort, rather than see-how-many-I-can-get-for-MYSELF nonsense. Next year will be different for us!!! :o)

Melissa said...

What great ideas! I love the giving back instead of just taking. It's a good thing to teach children.

Jess said...

This year we didn't color eggs. It just seemed silly to me. We don't hide them. We hide the plastic variety. (Once when I was a kid, we missed a real hard boiled egg in our search and found it a couple months later as we were re-arranging the furniture. EWWWW)
And no one ever wants to eat the deviled eggs that have color on them. So we just didn't do it.

Kitten Muffin said...

Care, I had no idea that the eggs were supposedly left by the easter bunny. We just did it as a human made game. The kids didn't care. I told my husband this morning that I learned that easter egg hunt eggs were left by the easter bunny, and his reaction was "really? That's weird. Better add it to the list of stuff that confuses us".

Lisabee said...

I love the idea of labeling the eggs so that they are assigned to a certain child. My brother and I used to hunt for the regular dyed boiled-egg kind.. so there wasn't much to fight over. We did count EVERY SINGLE CANDY in our Easter baskets to make sure that we hadn't been shorted.

Melissa said...

this year the "bunny" filled the eggs with pieces to a 330 piece puzzle. after finding all the eggs, the kids sat down and put the puzzle together...and we didn't end up with a ton of candy

Kitten Muffin said...

Melissa, I love the jigsaw idea! I might try and encorporate it next year with the labelled egg approach, so that the kids have age appropriate jigsaw pieces in their eggs.

I also love the treasure hunt clues in eggs idea Crazy Gecko, and will save that for the future too! That would be a great way to make the puzzles last throughout the day.

Anonymous said...

lol, my daughter told me this year that the easter bunny 'layed' eggs at her kindy.
I love these ideas, I wonder if they sell those plastic eggs anywhere in Australia? I've never seen them. I might have to make a treasure hunt - then we don't have to wait till next easter.
Being down under it is a bit odd to have pretend snowflakes and cooked lunch at christmas (stinking hot summer), and a spring festival at autumn, so this year I plan to celebrate the seasons in their rightful place :)

Alicia said...

I love the egg hunt! We started using color/design coded eggs for our kids a few years ago and it has worked great for us too. They all have the same number to find, but I can hide the younger ones' eggs more in the open, and our oldest has camouflage eggs that are a trick to find.

Melissa - the jigsaw idea - brilliant! I'm always trying to find non-candy things that are inexpensive, but not junk that I'm just going to throw out later.

I love to celebrate holidays, and the more traditional, the better for me. We try to incorporate as many church traditions as possible for Christian holidays.

Sherry and Donna said...

We have a New Years Eve tradition in our family which has been going on since my eldest daughter was 4, (she's now 24). it's a New Years Eve concert. There are 12 grandchildren in my family, I have 3 sisters and 1 brother and every N.Y.E the grandchildren and more recently we adults perform a concert, making up dances, telling jokes, playing instruments, lipsyncing songs etc. It's so good for a laugh! It's getting harder each year to con' the older grandchildren to take part however so far they've all proven to be really good sports, as the youngest are 10, 7 and 3, the older 'cousins' ranging in age from 24 to 17 don't want the little ones to miss out on such a long running tradition. My guess is however that some time in the not to distant future all the grandchildren will be over it and more than happy to make up the audience (or go their separate ways as they do) and it will be the adults who do all the performing to keep the tradition alive! I must admit I don't look forward to that time as N.Y.E. just wont be the same!
Donna :)

Rosa said...

I think the labeled eggs idea is brilliant! Just absolutely brilliant!

But I have to say about the Halloween cookie delivery: Taking cookies around to strangers probably meant that the cookies got thrown out. Even if you seemed friendly/eccentric/foreign, people are not likely to consume food given to them by strangers, especially at Halloween.

Jen said...

I love the idea of giving back when trick-or-treating!

I would love to see more Christmas Caroling for charity. Haven't seen this in years and would like to get my kids involved. We did this as kids and collected money for those in need.

Creative and Curious Kids!
Stop by and enter my Earth Day Giveaway! (children's book)

kris10dale said...

I check in on your blog pretty regularly. I love all the crafts you do with the kids. I received my first issue of the magazine "Family Fun" today. As I was paging through it, I thought "That mom from the Filth Wizardry blog should write for this magazine." I turned the page and saw cute paper pizza slices. I knew I had seen them before, but couldn't remember where. Then I saw the little box with your name and blog name in it. So funny and so neat to see you in a magazine! Thanks for posting all of the fun things you do so we can do them too! (some of them - I'm not as patient as you - lol)

Nikoli said...

Great ideas! Our son was soooo excited about just finding the eggs(plastic) in our living room. There was really no reason whatsoever to put candies of any sort in them.

We haven't developed any steadfast holiday traditions of our own just yet (TheBoy is only 2)... but we have decided that "birthdays" are "events." (Not about gifts.) I plan to take off work, keep him home from school, and go somewhere/do something with my son on his birthday every year. It was a celebration when he arrived, and shall be treated as such forever more.

Great blog! Thank you for sharing your family time with us all!

Motylek said...

We also had an egg hunt in our garden with our friends' kids. We agreed not to put too much candy and in fact kids had much more fund finding all sort of small toys from a dollar store and chickens than just another piece of candy.

Anonymous said...

My daughter has a metal contraption in the roof of her mouth right now and cant have most candy anyways...So this year we put polly pocket accesories and clothes, and some other little toy and jewelry in the pink and purple eggs for her and her girl cousin to find. My son and nephew got to find the red, blue and green eggs with little balls, cars, yoyos, and some little bugs and stuff in them. It worked out perfect, they didnt even notice that they didnt get any candy they where so wrapped up in all the little toy goodies and doll stuff, and they had something to do while the adults sat around and talked.

Elena & Katie said...

Thanksgiving was a tough one in our house, my wife is native and I hate sweet potatoes,yams, etc.

Now, we go camping each year. We pack up lots of food, the dogs, camping gear, hiking gear, and cameras. We invite friends out to join us (most come out on Friday). And spend the long weekend experimenting with traditional t-day foods on the campfire, hiking, and being thankful to be away from the offensive cartoon Indians.

Super Karen said...

Traditional holiday celebrations don't have much meaning for me. I love to hear about how other people re-imagine the "normal" festivities. Thank you for sharing this, Karen

toasted said...

Brilliant egg idea. i was ready to can the idea of an Easter Egg hunt after the stress of watching my dreamy daughter find one egg to the other kids' 14! Will definitely follow your lead next year. Thanks for the idea.

Sabra said...

I just found your blog and let me start by telling you thank you so much for this and I love reading about all your wonderful ideas and crafts! I love to cook and bake but I have never been much into crafting, with your help I hope to make the change.
One of my favorite traditions started when I was 3 or 4...
New Years eve, my parents left me and my sister with my Grandparents for the night. My wonderful Grandma filled out plastic champain glasses with sparkling grape juice. When the clock struck midnight she swong open the front door and we would scream at the top of our lungs "HAPPY NEW YEAR" to everyone that could hear! It was a blast! Every year I try to do this with my kids!

Heidicrafts said...

We have two kids, and we divide the plastic egg hunting in two ways. The kids like that we color-code the eggs (pink, blue, purple = Lass, orange, yellow, green = Lad).

A happy circumstance, Lass likes mint and hates peanut butter, Lad likes peanut butter and hates mint. So they already know that they don't want to have the wrong eggs.

Christmas, I took a tradition from a friend with six kids: new pajamas for everyone on Christmas Eve. Then they look fresh and coordinated on Christmas morning in and in the photographs.

Added benefit for us, photo in new jammies, standing in front of the same door, every year. Wonderful growth chart.

Likewise, photo of the front porch every year on the first day of school.

I love your blog - thank you so much for sharing your wonderful crafty ideas.

janimal said...

Ooh, I love the idea of giving treats back when trick or treating. What a great idea - thanks!

cheryl said...

I grew up on a country road where the houses were too spread out to make trick or treating worthwhile. Instead of trick or treating, we would throw a Halloween party at the house for the country kids and my mom would organize a treasure hunt for the goodie bags. She would get the neighbors in on writing, hiding and finding the clues so all the kids in costume would run from house to house (as a group) looking for the next clue. We'd solve the clues together and run to find the next. It always ended right back where we began (at our house), but the goodie bags would be waiting for us. All the parents would chip in to bring treats for the bags and stuff them while the kids were out on the treasure hunt.

Anonymous said...

I always feel bad for the tiny little kids who go trick-or-treating who really can't eat that much candy. So last year I got blank wooden halloween shapes, erasers, rings, plastic skeletons and pencils at the dollar store to hand out along with our candy :)
Oh and I remember making something in Girl Guides called a "Sit-Upon". It was a sturdy seat for camping made out of plastic bags. Saw your Thanksgiving lunch pic and remembered it. Maybe you can find the instructions online for it!

Gail said...

I know this is an old post, but my kids always perform at each house for Haloween.

One year they wore costumes like those in Riverdance and performed a 3-hand soft-shoe to Reel Around the Sun (they went to about 40 houses - it was quite a workout - but they were in competitive Irish Dance at the time). i never knew we had so many neighbors with Irish ancestry.

Last year they did an excerpt from the song Sisters from the musical White Christmas, which was particularly popular with the older crowd who remember Rosemary Clooney performing it.

cucicucicoo said...

i just love these ideas! i will definitely do the easter egg idea. every year my daughter is upset because she doesn't get as many eggs as the other kids, but if i do this it'll all be fair and sounds fun! :) lisa