Is all this talk of traditions, warm family holidays and fun activities with your kids this Christmas getting you in the spirit of the season? Or is it causing your spirits to get flustered and overwhelmed, adding more to your already-jam-packed holiday calendar? Well, don’t stress, here are 6 very simple ideas that are fun, memorable and affordable. You can easily squeeze them in and around everything else going on, especially once school is out and tests, homework and lunch preparation is over for a couple of weeks!
- Build a gingerbread house with your kids – The kits they have now are the best invention! For around $10 at any craft store,everything you need to plaster, decorate and then eat the gingerbread house is included in the kit! I found this year that the gingerbread boy cookie kit was even better, because each child decorates their own cookie, then eats it the way they want, with no fighting or yelling, “No, I wanted to eat the roof!” This simple tradition literally takes about thirty minutes, and cleanup is minimal, but my kids look forward to it every year.
- Hang and fill each other’s stockings – My husband and I have been filling each other’s Christmas stockings for as long as I can remember, and it is one of my favorite parts of Christmas morning. The cost is very little, since the items we load up the stockings with are favorite candies, lotions, lip gloss, maybe a cd, dvd, or a book. For the kids, we always raid the dollar section at department store, and they are thrilled with small tablets to write on, fun makeup to play with, dress up jewelry, and more goodies from each other. This year was extra fun, as they were able to shop for each other at their schools, and no one but them knows what small gifts they purchased for us and each other! Keep in mind, the key is to stuff the stockings on Christmas Eve, to ensure the surprise factor!
- Cookie exchange bake–off – Get together with a few friends, pick a house, and each participant bake at least one variety of their favorite holiday cookie or treat! It is so much fun to hang out, drink hot cocoa and talk and laugh too much, then take a plate of assorted home baked goodies to your family, or maybe even a lonely neighbor.
- Go caroling at an assisted-living home – I work at a home for the elderly who have Alzheimer’s and dementia here in my town. Those “nana’s and papa’s” as I call them, love to have company, especially children! Caroling takes all of an hour or so out of your holiday season, but the pleasure and fulfillment you and your kids would get out of giving back to our elderly is worth every minute! And it doesn’t cost anything!
- Attend a holiday church service – Our country is blessed with many different churches, offering a large array of services and holiday celebrations. Every family loves the tradition of stopping for an hour or so, and giving time to the real Reason for the Season. My family and I have been impressed with the sheer beauty of the decorations and atmosphere in assorted churches in our local area, and the wonderful hospitality of the people in them!
- Host a family at your holiday dinner table – My family and I have learned over the years to embrace and learn about other people in the world. One of the things we love most about this area is the vast number of different ethnicities and cultures in our town. Why not open up your home and invite a family or individual who might not have a family nearby to share your holiday dinner with you? We shared Thanksgiving dinner with a family we had recently met, and since then, we have all become fast friends. It’s also a good opportunity to try other foods and ways of eating! The kids enjoy the opportunity to broaden their young minds on being hospitable and appreciative of other cultures.
There are many ways to begin new traditions with your family, or keep treasured generational ones that are passed down over the years. Either way, the idea is to keep it simple and enjoy these holidays with those who matter most, your loved ones!