As the holidays approach, everyone is trying to conjure up that special holiday spirit, as intangible as it may be. While the shopping malls’ decorations and the local radio station’s nonstop holiday music put me in a Christmas mood, but nothing gets me more in the holiday spirit than reminiscing about long-ago family Christmases and doing anything that reminds me of those magical occasions.
Most people have fond childhood memories from holidays with their families, and anything that reminds us of those special times are most warmly welcomed during Christmastime. If you are looking for a way to surprise your spouse this year, consider gathering inspiration from his childhood Christmases with these ten nostalgic holiday surprise ideas.
1. Create a holiday scrapbook. Using pictures from his childhood Christmases and yours, as well as pictures from recent holiday celebrations, surprise your spouse with a holiday scrapbook that will show his life’s journey through Christmases. You could leave room at the end to add pages year after year as you make new memories.
2. Cook his favorite holiday dish. What is the one trademark holiday dish from his childhood Christmases? For my husband, it’s cheesy potatoes and a good roasted turkey. Dig up the recipe for your spouse’s favorite holiday dish and surprise him with a special, nostalgic meal this Christmas.
3. Stuff his old stocking. Do your spouse’s parents still have his childhood Christmas stocking stored in the house? Get your hands on it and surprise him by hanging it by the tree this Christmas Eve, perhaps stuffed with toys from his childhood. As I spend Christmas away from home for the first time this year, I know seeing my old hand-knitted Rudolph stocking hanging on the fireplace would be an unmatchable surprise.
4. Hang his childhood ornaments. If his parents held onto any tree ornaments he made during his childhood, or any that were particularly special to him, surprise your spouse by hanging them on your Christmas tree this year. If you have children, this could be a great opportunity for your man to share some fond childhood memories with them.
5. Have a movie night. Your spouse probably has a special place in his heart for some older Christmas movies he watched as a child, such as “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” or “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” For my husband and me, the original “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” cartoon bring that warm Christmas feeling into our hearts. Uncover your man’s favorite old-school holiday flicks and surprise him by spending an evening watching them together.
6. Play a nostalgic holiday mix. Perhaps your spouse’s parents had a particular holiday CD they played around Christmas, or maybe he has some favorite Christmas songs that remind him of childhood. Find out what holiday songs bring back fond memories for him and create a mix to play as you decorate your tree or open gifts on Christmas morning.
7. Give him a blast-from-the-past gift. When I was 20 years old, I received one of the most memorable gifts of my lifetime – a quilt themed after my childhood idol, Rainbow Brite. This Christmas, surprise your spouse with a novelty gift themed after a favorite childhood toy or fad. Alternatively, you could fulfill his childhood dream by giving him a Christmas gift he always wanted but Santa never brought.
8. Engage in a favorite childhood activity. Whether it’s skating, sledding, or taking a trip to a favorite store or festival, there might be a favorite activity that reminds your spouse of his childhood Christmases. For me, that activity was driving through the lit-up houses in a neighborhood my siblings and I dubbed “Christmas Lane.” Surprise your spouse by doing his nostalgic activity together on a date.
9. Put up a favorite childhood decoration. If his parents did any Christmas decorating in their homes, there might be one particular decoration that defines your spouse’s Christmas home in his memory. For me, it’s the manger scene my mom always puts up in our family room. Surprise him by buying a similar decoration, or, better yet, find out if his parents will let you adopt that original decoration for your own home.
10. Make his favorite cookies. Christmas isn’t Christmas without cookies, right? For my husband, he always has to have his grandma’s frosted sugar cookies to make his Christmas complete. Get the recipe of your spouse’s favorite Christmas cookie and surprise him by baking a batch for Christmas Day.
For most men, taking the care to bring back his childhood Christmases will beat the most elaborate or expensive Christmas gift by far. Admittedly, these Christmas surprises will require a little subtle prying or getting into cahoots with his parents, but seeing the little-boy-on-Christmas look in your spouse’s eyes this holiday season will make any extra trouble well worth it!