This time of year can be an incredible mix of heightened delight and intense exhaustion. With friends and family around, food and fun and parties to go to, we are kept well on our toes. If you put a ton of pressure on yourself to outdo last holiday season, or what the neighbors are doing, or what your own parents did for the holidays when you were a child, you might put a damper on it for yourself by adding to your own stress.
The best thing you can do for yourself and your family at holiday time is to keep it simple, to embrace the warmth of your loved ones, and to create special memories. This is not something that needs to involve large, expensive gifts. The fondest memories most people have of childhood holidays is time spent sitting by the fireplace drinking hot cocoa or eggnog, or playing card games with mom and dad, or making cookies or homemade greeting cards to send to loved ones.
When you are planning your family’s holiday season, take time to slow things down and to plan for moments when memories can be made that will last a lifetime. Here are some ideas:
- Practice the well-loved and age-old tradition of making cookies as a family. You can do this with your immediate family or invite friends or extended family and really make it a lively event. Invite your children to help out, most all children love to decorate with icing and sprinkles. Of course it’s messy, but that’s all part of the fun and your kids will remember it fondly. There are even some great online food and cooking classes you can try out together.
- Make gifts wherever possible. As a family, you can make gifts for each other. This will save you the pressure of spending tons of money, and it will help to encourage everyone to get creative. Your children can make artwork, cards (there are some unique wood and letterpress cards here) and crafts; they could even record a song as a gift.
- Help others and donate to your favorite charities. There are always ways to participate in food drives and other charitable activities around the holidays. This is a great opportunity to show your kids that it’s not only nice to help others, but it can be fun and is always rewarding.
- Tell/read holiday stories. Gather everyone together and read or tell stories that are a part of your holiday tradition. Purchase a storybook, for example, The Night Before Christmas, with wonderful illustrations and read it to your kids with real excitement. This is a great time to gather everyone for a cuddlefest. They’ll love it!
- Get festive with your decorating. Most people enjoy decorating at holiday time. You can make it a fun family event by playing holiday music, setting out some special cookies or treats and all taking part together. You can even let the kids have their own area to decorate – like the holiday tree, or the front entrance or the mantle. Remember to take photos! You can even create your own books to cherish your memories with.
When it’s all said and done, it isn’t the purchased gifts that are always remembered through the years. More often, it’s the time spent with family and friends, the laughter and the togetherness. The beautiful thing about this is that you don’t have to spend a ton of money to get great results. Children are thrilled with baking, cooking, singing, creating, decorating and hanging out with mom and dad.
Take them out and help them build a snowman – they’ll love it. Show them what a great feeling it is to help others, or to see someone’s smile when they open a handmade gift, made with love by your child. These are the things that make the holiday season so special. Take lots of photos and give lots of hugs. Your kids will remember family holidays as some of the very best times of their lives, and so will you.