I was walking through Michael’s about five years ago and saw these mailboxes. They were so cute! I loved the colors and how festive they felt. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them but I bought two- one for each of my kids, and brought them home. This started an unexpected tradition that has become one of our favorite parts of Christmas!
I grew up with certain traditions and tried desperately for years to carry them on. For various reasons the old traditions just didn’t fit and trying to force them was exhausting. Following that little voice inside that said “hey! Those mailboxes look so fun! I think they are calling to you!” led to an awesome little tradition that does make sense for our family. It brings us lots of joy and connection. What I most love about this though is the reminder that we can start our own traditions that make us happiest.
What are Christmas Mailboxes?
Somewhere around December 10th my kids will come downstairs to find two Christmas mailboxes in our living room. When I put the mailboxes out depends on my kids’ level of excitement for Christmas. I wait until they are getting really excited. 🙂
When my kids see the mailboxes they know what it means. They did not that first year, though. The year the mailboxes debuted I excitedly waited for the kids to notice them. Once they did, I suggested they check inside.
Inside each of their mailboxes was a little something. I can’t even remember what it was. It may have been a chocolate orLego mini figure. Maybe it was one of those small puzzles from the Target bargain bins or an activity pack. Whatever it was, my kids eyes lit up when they opened the door and looked inside. It was an unexpected and fun gift.
Since that year, we’ve put the mailboxes out every mid December. I try to create a special little spot and decorate it with Christmas-y stuff. You can see above that sometimes I add some snow (cotton) and a small tree. Other years I’ve created little (not elaborate!) villages.
For the days leading up to Christmas, and a day or two after, I put something small and special inside. My kids come downstairs each morning excited to see what it is! Each time they open it and find the treasure they come over and give me a hug and thank me. What a way to start all the days leading up to Christmas!
When December 26th dawns, my kids come downstairs to find another little something in each of their mailboxes. I think it helps with the day after Christmas blues. If I have enough mailbox filler left, I keep filling the mailboxes until December 27th or 28th. Then, one morning while my kids are still sleeping I put them away for another year.
An Unexpected Tradition
This has been such a fun tradition that I never intended to start. Shopping for the mailbox fillers each year is a different kind of fun. I love placing what I purchased in my kids’ mailboxes before they wake up each morning. My husband usually travels for work and will pick up mailbox fillers, too. One of the best parts has been when one of the kids asks if they can fill the mailbox for the other!
I don’t know how long this will continue, but for now both of my kids (who are 11 and 13) really love it. If you want to try this at home I will list some of the ideas I have used to fill the mailboxes.
Here are some ideas of things I’ve used to fill our mailboxes:
- Word searches
- Microwave popcorn
- matchbox cars
- Lego mini builds
- a dollar
- fun juice boxes
- Chuck E. Cheese tokens
- honey sticks
- mad libs
- rubber balls
- paddle ball
- mini puzzles
- anything from the Target bargain bin
- fun soap
- Other snack packs
How to Fill The Mailboxes Without Getting Caught?
Everything for the mailboxes is in a bag in our downstairs office where our kids don’t look. I go downstairs before the kids each morning (and sometimes am able to sneak it in before bed at night) and fill the mailboxes. The kids know there is something new in their mailbox when the flag is up. They put the flag down when they take the item out. For a few of the days I fill the mailboxes multiple times. It’s so fun!
If you give this a try be sure to let us know! Let us know what you put inside by tagging us on Instagram: @ponderingjen
Do you do something like this? Is there a tradition you started for your own family unexpectedly? We’d love to hear about them! Will you share in the comments below?Thank you so much for reading! Follow Pondering Jen on social or sign up for our newsletter to stay connected!