Every Christmas was the same. Weeks were spent shopping for the perfect gift, tons of thought put into just what the perfect gift was and then by mid afternoon Christmas day, the toys sat abandoned in the living room and the kids were of doing something else.
One Christmas my husband and I were discussing what the perfect gift would be and an idea came to us. Instead of toys wrapped under the tree, we would give them a Christmas vacation! The gift of memories for Christmas.
Maybe you have wanted to give the gift of a vacation, but wondered if your kids would miss out on the traditional Christmas. OR maybe you worry about the logistics of the entire process.
While it’s only July I know that for this type of Christmas gift, you will need a bit more time than usual to plan.
A memory filled vacation is one of the best gifts I have ever given my family. I must admit, that first year, I worried that my littlest son would really miss out on the traditional Christmas! I worried that the boys would be mad at us. Miss opening gifts. Miss the traditions.
Thankfully, they didn’t.
Our first year giving the gift of a vacation for Christmas, we surprised the kids with a trip to Disneyland on Christmas morning. We wrapped t-shirts and other Disney/vacation park items and placed them under the tree. On Christmas morning, we got the kids up early and they unwrapped their gifts. In one box (which we explained came from Santa) they each had a note that said part of the sentence “We are going to Disneyland”. They put the pages together and learned that Santa had conspired with Mom/Dad and was sending them on a vacation. We had a limo pick us up and take us to the airport and we flew out that morning. I had already packed the kids bags and had them hiding in my closet.
We spent the next 5 days at Disneyland. I had packed a tiny Christmas tree which we put it on the desk in the room. We also splurged a little and had Disney Florist decorate the room.
The next year we did a traditional Christmas but the year following, we took another vacation. The kids knew about this one ahead of time as we were arriving a few days prior to Christmas. We took our little Christmas tree and put it up in the hotel room. But this time, on Christmas Eve, the kids picked out gifts for their siblings at the stores on the resort property. Each gift was left in the shopping bag which served as the wrapping paper.
This year though, we wanted “Santa” to leave a few gifts under the tree. Gift cards to use on their vacation for souvenirs.
My youngest still believed in Santa Claus and we didn’t want to shatter that illusion. So, on Christmas Eve/early Christmas morning, I took a picture of the tree from my bed. I used an app to add Santa and the next morning when we woke the kids, we excitedly told them that I caught Santa last night leaving their gift card’s under the tree! It was a tall tale for sure, but fun and the kids loved it. And it kept the the Christmas magic alive for another year.
Throughout the years, we changed up our destination and changed up various components. For example, one year, we took Christmas lights and strung them around the room. One year I ordered a basket of Christmas cookies from a local baker.
I’m often asked about those trips and didn’t I miss the “traditions of Christmas”? My answer is always the same.
We had Christmas lights….
We had Christmas cookies…
We had a Christmas tree….
We even got to see Santa…..
My children still exchanged gifts that they chose carefully for each other….
And they even enjoyed a parade on Christmas morning.
Now, as my children are older, those Christmases are the ones they talk about the most. They pull out the photo books and laugh and relive the memories. They tease me about putting “Santa” in a picture just so they thought Santa came to visit. We laugh about my middle declaring he would eat a Churro for every breakfast during the trip because “it was Christmas”.
And we let him because, it was Christmas. 🤷
They don’t regret it. And no, they aren’t angry at me for taking them away from their home on Christmas. All that is left is good happy memories.
But don’t just take my word for it, here are what my 3 boys have to say about the Christmas vacations we’ve taken.
Britton (now age 18): I enjoyed going on the Christmas trips. They are the memories that I remember the most.
Aidan (now age 15): It’s true. (he’s 15, need I say more?)
Liam: (now age 12): I think the Christmas vacations were the best because you (mom) kept the secret that Santa was real!