Wednesday, December 22, 2010


With the craziness of the holiday season don’t miss out on the best part of the season: spending time with your family and friends. The holidays are a great time spice up family traditions that you and your children will look forward to year after year. So here are some ideas to create memories and smiles for years to come.

Holiday Movie Marathon
Watch your favorite Christmas specials or movies. Everyone can choose their favorite show and you can watch them back to back together. If you have any home videos of holidays past, this is the perfect time to watch. Add a few snacks and you could have the start of a great tradition.

Give Back
Take this opportunity to teach children the importance of helping others. There are many options to choose from which could include making items, giving of your time, or volunteering for a special project. We recently re-posted a great article about volunteerism for the family with connected resources – check out

Neighborhood Event
The holidays are all about family, but don’t forget to spend time with friends. Get all of your neighbors to decorate the outside of their house with snowmen (or another theme) each year. Then have a party and ask everyone to vote on who has the best themed decorations. Or have a progressive dinner where a group of friends go from house to house “tree looking” to admire everyone’s holiday decorations.
For several years I hosted a children’s holiday event with activities, games, a community service project and special treats for the children in the neighborhood. I just asked for families to confirm how many were coming and their ages. They could drop off the children for a few hours so they could get last minute shopping done or get to other holiday chores free of curious eyes. If we were expecting a large crowd or lots of younger ones I got some extra adult volunteers to pitch in. It was a special time for everyone. As the children in my care got older they stepped into planning and helping me with this event.

Hanging Ornaments
As a child and even now - decorating the house, hanging the ornaments, putting up lights are exciting events during the holiday season that I look forward to with delight. Including everyone in on the process is even more fun! As a tradition we decorate the tree together and then with the first "official" lighting of the tree sit and sing our favorite holiday songs. Every year we look forward to this time. Yes, there were years when the children thought this was "lame" but they still participated. I believe they would have been very disappointed if we'd skipped a year - even with a few complaints.

Holiday Globetrotting
Does your family like to learn about other cultures or dream of traveling the world? Why not pick a country each year and learn all about their holiday traditions? Have fun in the kitchen cooking a typical meal, play holiday-inspired games or make an ornament that reminds you of that country.

Bake Holiday Cookies
There is no better way to spend quality time with your family than in the kitchen cooking, eating and talking. Let everyone in the family pick the cookie recipe they want to try, and spend the day cooking them all. Invite grandma, aunts or friends to bring their favorite cookie recipe so you can experience some new treats. At the end of the fun baking session, everyone goes home with an assorted tray of homemade cookies. Don’t like cookies? Try a new holiday-inspired cake recipe each year instead.

Story Telling – Holiday Style
Some families love to read The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve with their children. If there is a particular holiday story that you love, why not make it a tradition to read. As the kids get older, they can take turns doing the annual reading. There are many wonderful holiday story books out there for all ages to enjoy and most have outstanding illustrations that bring the tale to life.
Why not tell your own story? When you share your personal story about holidays past or loved ones you not only tap into your memory but make memories with the children. The children I've cared for love to hear me or mom or dad tell them about their experiences. Then let them share their story of a favorite memory. Taking turns to relive the past enriches the future.

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