For many parents this time of year comes with an expectation to make Christmas memorable for our kids. It is supposed to be a season with delight and joy, creating memories to last for years. It is easy to place pressure on ourselves for making this holiday season perfect. That adds stress to an already busy time of year.
Take a second and think back to your favorite memories of Christmas as a kid. Did it involve elaborate planning by your parents? Maybe for a few of those cherished moments. I am guessing that what you fondly think back upon were those moments sharing unpretentious experiences together.
Back then there was no Elf on the Shelf, advent calendars were store bought chocolates, and our parents didn’t post photos on social media showcasing how lovely our Christmas was.
I say this not as a dig on parents who enjoy doing these things, but more to highlight the differences in expectations. If those activities are your thing, keep enjoying what you are inspired to do.
I personally know that I just don’t have it in me to move an elf around every single day. I have enough trouble remembering to move the clothes from the washer to the dryer, let alone posing an elf in a creative way.
Making Christmas magical isn’t an elaborate process. When it comes to helping our kids enjoy this season, it is really quite simple. Get your kids involved in family traditions, and find some time to spend together doing holiday activities.
Need some suggestions? Here are some EASY ideas and ways to create those fun family memories:
Have Kids Help With Decorating
For me, there are certain decorations that created a sense of awe and nostalgia for childhood Christmases. We had a plastic candle that played music while the light lit in time with the music that sat on our kitchen table. My sister and I would take turns starting it up and being mesmerized by the simplest of decorations.
Currently my son is obsessed with my husband’s snowmen collection. There are stuffed snowmen, figurines, and even some singing ones. For years my husband has been receiving snowmen gifts from his family.
I also clearly remember the joy it brought me to decorate the tree with my ornaments even up through my teen years. Listening to Christmas music while hanging up ornaments always made my spirits bright. Well, except for a certain Anne Murray Christmas album that my mother loved, and my sister and I loved to hate. No matter what your musical preference is, the novelty of decorating for the holidays while listening to seasonal favorites never wears off.
Now with two small kiddos at home, our tree currently is a bit top heavy with ornaments. We hung the fancy and fragile ornaments at the top, out of reach of small hands during nap time. Then we laid out the non-glass ornaments for my three year old to decorate the tree with, while his sister worked equally as hard at taking them off the tree. I was especially nostalgic when I brought out the hand print salt dough ornaments to see how much my children have grown over the year.
The best part of tree trimming was hearing my son gasp when he found photo ornaments of his cousins. That warmed my heart.
Involve Children In Gift Giving
Every year I have had my son help make ornaments to give to our relatives and good friends. I love seeing his chest fill up with pride as they open up a gift that he helped create. It’s also fun for our loved ones to pull out those keepsakes year after year.
Besides that, we give him some choices while shopping for gifts to give our family members. He gets to choose between two or three items, so that way it’s not a free for all. Being that he is three and a half, he sometimes tells the gift recipient ahead of time. We are still working on what a surprise actually means.
I would ask my daughter for her input, but being that she only says a few words she doesn’t give the best response. It usually just comes out as “Dada” or a raspberry.
Pull Out the Holiday Movies
Who doesn’t have a favorite holiday movie? If you don’t, I am guessing you are The Grinch. 😉
My personal favorite is Elf, but there are several other older movies that I have fond memories of watching with my sister.
While it isn’t necessarily tied to Christmas, we used to have a tradition of watching the entirety of Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea that started when we were in our late teens. My brother-in-law loved teasing us about it by quipping, “That’s the one where Gilbert dies, isn’t it?” just so he could get a, “Gilbert doesn’t die!” out of us.
Now, when I come across Anne of Green Gables memes or references, I have to send them along to my sister. It makes me smile and think of our time together cozied up on the couch.
Another holiday favorite from childhood was a Christmas Claymation program that ran on tv. My family’s favorite part was three camels singing Star of Wonder in a jazzy, jaunty style. Whenever that carol was sung in the church service, we would all smirk at each other.
Watching a movie together year after year creates a shared memory of relaxing and enjoying each other’s company during an often busy season. Take the time to slow things down and enjoy snuggling in together.
Even Regular Errands Can Be Magical
Listening to festive music adds to the experience of running errands. We have a local radio station that plays only Christmas music for this part of the year. This makes it easy to reintroduce favorite seasonal songs to your kids.
While out shopping during the holiday season, we often do extra laps around the decor section for my children to ooh and ah over the dazzling displays. It doesn’t take much to have them point out the Christmas decor they spy, and adds to the fun of shopping. Sometimes we take pictures with our favorite displays.
On the way home, my son usually makes a request for us to do a loop-de-loo. That means we do some extra laps around the neighborhood to check out holiday light displays. We pick out our favorites, and take different routes home to see how other houses have been decked out.
Have Your Little Chefs Join In
Nothing puts more pep in my son’s step than asking if he would like to help with baking something. My three year old enthusiastically brings his step stool over to our kitchen table to pour ingredients into whatever we are making.
How complicated a recipe can be depends on the ages of your children. I save my mixing, dumping, and cookie cutter portions for my three year old. With him, sometimes the dumping is a bit too enthusiastic and results in some extra treats for our dog to enjoy.
During my childhood, I remember the times my mother got out her Mirro cookie press to do a recipe my grandma used to make with her. Hearing the fondness my mom had in her voice while explaining their traditions made me realize that I was being included in an important activity. Projects shared among generations matter during this holiday season.
The Most Important Factor In All of This Is You
Deep breaths. You’ve got this holiday season. Take some moments to plan out what will be most enjoyable for your family. Think about how you can incorporate your children in prepping for the big day. Your children will remember what brings you the most joy and savor those moments most where you are having fun too.
Pace yourself over this next month. Don’t wait to put together the toys until Christmas Eve unless you want to stay up way too late muttering Scrooge like phrases to yourself. I say this from past experience. My father still has a vengeance in his tone of voice when he refers to the Barbie Loves McDonalds plastic restaurant. We repeatedly hear about all the tiny pieces he had to put stickers on.
The anticipation, time together, and involvement of children in the process of preparing for this holiday are what make it special. You don’t have to have elaborate plans to make this Christmas magical and memorable through the eyes of a child. They just want time with you while doing a few holiday activities.
Q: What are some of your favorite activities to do with your kids this season?