I’ve been thinking a lot about all of the holidays coming up and how to make the most of them. I think I may be a little sentimental because I’m 35 weeks pregnant and I’m again realizing that my other amazing babies are now 12 and 9…and just yesterday I was holding them as newborns as well. I’ve also been anticipating an amazing holiday season (I’m saying Halloween through New Years Eve) even with a newborn. I’ve revolutionized how I think of the holidays (read that article here)! My holidays are done with intention and thought and I’m all ready filled with excitement, instead of dread of “all the things I have to do!”.
I wanted to share some of my thoughts on how to create an amazing holiday season with your kids without breaking the bank.
3 Free Gifts you can give your kids this holiday season:
- The Gift of Time: One of the very best things we can do as parents is to spend time with our families…and my family, I mean nucleus family…just being together and hanging out. It seems we have lots of time during the holiday season to go to parties, spend time with extended family or go shopping, but sometimes we forget to make time to just spend time with the nucleus. I’m not saying that those things are not important, they are. It is important to have time with extended family, family friends and including people into your life. But spending special, intentional time together as mom, dad and kiddos is something that we need to build into our schedules too! Anytime you have other people (or even your phones!) around, your attention is diluted and it is so important to have quality, relaxed time together, because this is the family that you will have 30 years from now. Whether you are at home creating gifts for others…together, playing games…together, or watching Christmas movies….together.
- The Gift of Remembering: One of my favorite things to do as kid was record and watch old family movies. My family bought one of those massive shoulder resting video cameras when I was in 7th or 8th grade and it was one of my favorite things to carry around with me on holidays…or any day! Who would have known that I would eventually become a professional photographer! And…lo and behold, as a professional photographer, sometimes all the deadlines of other people’s pictures take priority over your own family pictures and movies. I had hard drive after hard drive (i think i have 12!) filled with client photos and my own family’s we mixed in there…just stuck in cyber space! Last year, I decided to compile all of our families Christmas videos and post them to our you tube channel under a private setting. This way we can access them all through our apple tv or smartphones and watch them any time. It is such a fun time to go back and watch the kiddos open gifts, be goofy and my favorite part is watching my kids watch themselves! It gives them a sense of identity, place and history….like…I’ve always been funny, it’s just who I am…or I’ve always loved to sing and dance, even when I was 2….stuff like that. Something as simple as Annual Family Christmas Movie and Picture Album Night can help instill in your kiddos that they have amazing memories…but it doesn’t happen if we aren’t intentional (see point #1). If you don’t have videos, look through a photo album! It will have a similar effect.
Some ways to have a fun Annual Family Christmas Movie and Picture Album Night:
- Plan for Annual Family Christmas Movie and Picture Album Night in advance, early in the holiday season…maybe Thanksgiving weekend? Or maybe the night you set up your Christmas tree?
- Make some popcorn or other special meal (taco soup & cinnamon rolls maybe? ) Ice cream Sundaes?
- Blow up the air bed and let everyone get comfy in jammies and lots of pillows and blankets, let the kids sleep downstairs for the night.
- My favorite thing (I’m not sure so my kids love this as much as I do) pause the movies a lot and talk about other memories that come up during the video…favorite gifts that year…whatever happened to that gift? Remember when you did this with that gift?? Stuff like that! The point is not to “get through” the videos” it is to instill in your family a sense of belonging, place and history!
- Keep it positive!
The Gift of Tradition: One way to instill a sense of history, place and identity in your kids is by participating in annual traditions. As a kid, some of our family’s holiday traditions we centered around my grandmother. When she passed away when I was in 8th grade, many of our traditions seemed to pass away with her. I’m so thankful that soon after, my parents started new traditions that have lasted through the years and every year we did them, it instilled a new sense of belonging. One of the new traditions they started was making Jambalaya on Christmas Eve. I’m not sure where it came from, but we have loved the tradition and my kids enjoy it even today!
My point is this…if you don’t have any traditions, or just a few….start this year! Find some things that everyone likes to d0 and do them this year…and plan on doing them next year! My kids have been making gingerbread houses with my parents since they were old enough to pick up candy and they look forward to it. This year we decided to make some gingerbread houses for our own house and I let them make patterns and design their own house, instead of using graham crackers. It was more of a project than I anticipated, but the fam was so proud of each of their houses that we decided that we will be doing that again this year. We blast the Christmas music and get to work!
New Christmas Tradition Ideas to get your juices flowing:
- Get a Peppermint Blizzard and drive around and look at Christmas Lights
- Make new Christmas tree ornaments using school photos or family photos and send some to the grandparents!
- Have a baking day and make treats for your neighbors and deliver them while Christmas Caroling
- Go to a local church Christmas performance.
- Go to the dollar store and let them pick out a gift for their siblings.
- Create Blessing bags and go on the hunt for people who are in need that would appreciate a blessing bag!
- Design and create a gingerbread house.
- Act out the Christmas story and record it! (then you can watch it next year (see point #2!)
- Interview the kids on video and ask them what the meaning of Christmas is (do this every year and you will have a great time watching this!)
- Have a fancy dinner night where you make the same meal and get all dressed up in your Christmas Best!
I’m sure you probably have some of your own amazing traditions that others could benefit from knowing about! I would love to hear about them in the comments!
Other Posts about Family & Holidays: