Children love doing crafts of all kinds. The activity can be as easy or as hard as you make it. It is great to provide the children the opportunity to learn new skills needed to successfully complete the activity! Allowing them to do most of the work will help build their confidence and give them a great feeling of accomplishment. It is always a joy to see the excitement and pride they have on their face when they have finished!
Having a “family tradition” provides a great memory for all of us as we grow older. A great tradition to start with your children for Thanksgiving is to allow them to help make the dessert for all the children attending dinner. It can be as simple as making cookies and putting candy on top, to making/decorating cupcakes. Holiday themed cookies, such as turkeys for Thanksgiving, are always a big hit. It is always fun to write a name each turkey so that when the children select the one they want, they can make their choice by their favorite name. See some great kid-friendly holiday cookie recipes your kids can help make.
Christmas and Hanukkah:
Many families set out Christmas cookies and milk for Santa on Christmas Eve. You can use this opportunity to talk about how it would be good to leave Santa a healthy treat, in addition to the cookies. We all want Santa to have enough energy for his long trip, right? What a great time to talk about the difference in snack food/healthy food choices! Suggest some veggies or fruit for Santa, and let them help prepare them. What a great way to remind them to eat healthy foods “like Santa did” long after the holidays are over.
Make a home-made Menorah with your children and talk about its meaning. If you are adventurous, have even more fun by making some candles together to place in the Menorah. That could become a great family tradition, as well!
Encouraging your children to help you make treats for your neighbors is a great way to teach them to reach out, give and share during the holiday season. Let them go with you to deliver the goodies and brag on them for helping make this special gift for that neighbor. They will be so proud of their handiwork when the neighbor praises them for what they did! Children need to be praised and encouraged!
Don’t forget your pets! Help your children make a stocking for your dog, cat, or any other animal you may have in your home. Then, take them shopping or make items to fill the stocking for your pet. This will teach them that giving is an act of love for everyone, including their pets!
In the hustle and bustle of the season, taking the time to take your children to buy presents for others is an important way to teach them about giving. It is so easy to get caught up in our never-ending to-do list, that oftentimes we miss the opportunity to teach them the joy of giving. They learn at an early age the “receiving” part of the holidays. As adults, most of us have come to the realization that it is better to give than receive, but be careful to remember, someone else instilled those values into our lives. It is our responsibility to pass those values to our children.
You can never have too many family memories or traditions. Some families have traditions that are passed down from generation to generation. Some families undergo major changes from year to year. It could be a move to a new city, or the make-up of the family unit may have changed. Make sure that you intentionally begin or carry-on traditions that allow your children to look forward to certain things each holiday. It can be as simple as opening one present early, searching for the Elf on the Shelf, decorating as a family, driving around looking at holiday lights, or going to a special holiday program in the community. The TOGETHER part of family makes all these memories special. Take pictures and videos so that memories are preserved for them to share one day with their own little ones.
There may be holidays that you choose not to celebrate, as others might. What a great time to volunteer for a charity event. A friend of mine took his wife and children to volunteer at the Rescue Mission on Christmas because his family did not celebrate that holiday. It became their family tradition and has taught his children the value of helping those who are less fortunate than others. It also helped a worthwhile charity that desperately needed volunteers while so many people were out of town or hosting relatives and friends.
No matter how you choose to celebrate the holidays, give your children the best gift of all – the gift of time spent with you. That is the gift that will flood their minds with wonderful memories, long after the presents have been torn up or put away on the shelf. Those are the memories that last for a lifetime!