How are you and your family making this holiday season extra memorable? The holidays are an exciting time, but schedules can be so hectic that parent-child time can easily be pushed to the side.
To help time-strapped families make the most of this magical time of year, I’ve compiled a go-to list of family bonding and warm holiday rituals adapted from my book, Little Things Long Remembered: Making Your Children Feel Special Every Day.
Stay tuned for regularly updated ideas, or follow the hashtag #25LittleThings on my Twitter feed.
Throughout the month, feel free to tweet me your family traditions, or share ways you and your children are contributing to holiday rituals on my Facebook page.
25 Days of Little Things
- Remember: Making kids the core of holiday fun fuels family closeness. They will know they’re contributing to family life and helping to continue long-cherished rituals.
- Be willing to get cold and wet building a snowman, sledding, or ice skating with the kids. They’ll cherish the memory, and appreciate that Mom or Dad took the time to act like a kid again.
- Take each child shopping for individual gifts he wants to give to people on his list. Later, as relatives unwrap presents, he’ll proudly say, “I chose it myself.”
- Hang mistletoe in high-traffic areas in your home, or by your child’s bedroom door or bed. When you wake her or tuck her in, it’s an automatic extra kiss & a new holiday custom.
- We’re well into December and excitement levels are high! Kids need more parental time, attention and structure to keep calm and collected. Try to be home early from work — if you can — for special holiday tasks you and your children can do together.
- Keep marshmallows and your children’s favorite ingredients on hand to make hot chocolate after wintery outdoor activities. If your son or daughter has a favorite sprinkle — even if the colors don’t exactly keep within the theme of the holidays — throw some on top. It’ll soon become the “Danny Special.”
- Establish a caring holiday tradition for kids: Have everyone in the family collect coats, clothing, and toys to donate. They’ll feel proud of themselves that they aided children in need.
- Have the kids take charge of giving back & help you decide what canned foods to give to a shelter or food bank. Encourage them to name their favorite canned goods and donate the item.
- Far in advance of the big day, while you’re still relaxed, make cookies that children can decorate. Store in your freezer and bake before parties.
- Take the whole family shopping to pick out special holiday decorations. Kids love being included in such adult decisions.
- Take your kids on an errand to buy & deliver gifts for children in the hospital, homeless shelter or another service group.
- Tour the neighborhood one evening to see the homes and streets decorated with holiday lights. Ask your child to name his or her favorite.
- However you decorate for the holidays, repeat annually. Your children will see these special touches as family tradition.
- As you decorate, reminisce with the kids about the ornaments—say where they came from, who made them and include any unique stories.
- Have your kids help unpack groceries for all holiday prep. Just seeing the sprinkles to be used for the cookies or the sweet potatoes for pie will excite the whole family.
- Before holiday parties, agree on a special signal your kids can use when they want to talk alone, away from the frenzy. They’ll appreciate that you keep their needs first.
- An especially delightful approach for to/from gift name tags is to use photos of the giver & recipient. What fun for kids!
- Set up a “wrapping station” with paper, kid-safe scissors, tape, ribbons and stickers. Kids can adorn gifts for loved ones.
- Videotape holiday rituals — trimming the tree, lighting the candles — each year. It will become your family’s record.
- Include at least one special dish at holiday meals, such as an unusual stuffing or a chocolate pie your grandmother made.
- Family gatherings are ideal for videotaping elder relatives. Ask each to relate their childhood memories to your kids.
- Let the kids arrange the seating for holiday dinners and mix it up a bit if they wish. Have them create festive place cards.
- Include your pets in the holiday fun. Have your child select a red ribbon to tie on your cat’s collar or your dog’s leash.
- Have one child become the stuffing mixer, and another the pie dough roller. Kids will proudly announce, “I made that.”
- To help instill the spirit of giving, have the kids be the official gift masters and pass out gifts one at a time.