Our last blog posting was a review of holiday gift ideas (Holiday Gift Ideas: A Review). In addition, because of popular demand, we are reprinting our collection of holiday traditions. We are very aware – and appreciative – that we have many new readers this year. I hope all of you will enjoy seeing these and maybe getting some useful ideas. For those of you who did see some or all of these traditions before (a couple new ones have been added), perhaps there are some you haven’t experienced that you would like to introduce to your family this year.
We would be delighted for you to add your own traditions – just use the “What Do You Think?” section at the end of the blog. We might be able to include your suggestions in one of our future blogs.
#1 When Santa’s identity is discovered …
Consider starting a “special secrets club.” Swear your child into this special club. Make up a special handshake or pinky-swear to agree that he will keep the secret from all younger children who haven’t made his discovery. Make a big deal about the fun of being part of the special club. Make sure he understands that being in the club doesn’t change any of the fun and gifts you have planned for him. Instead, it doubles the fun because he can help with all the secrets for everyone else.
#2 If your child is missing someone at this holiday – a parent, grandparent, favorite relative, or a friend who has moved away …
Consider arranging for a video to be made and sent to you so you can wrap it up as a gift for your child.
#3 Plan a mini-celebration of a winter holiday other than the one that is usually celebrated by your family (for example, Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa).
Go to the library and find out all the details of that holiday’s celebration and see how many you can do. When your family’s usual holiday arrives, have your child tell some family members or neighbors what he learned about another holiday and some of the ways you celebrated.
#4 Let your child help wrap the holiday gifts.
You can make wrappings out of almost anything: paper bags, scraps of fabric, craft paper, parts of old shirts or sweaters that are outgrown, rubber bands, hair ribbons, shoestrings, etc. You can use twine and colored tapes. You can use dot labels of all sizes. You can use all sorts of stickers.
#5 Make presents instead of buying them.
Do the “crafts” together with your child. Talk about who the presents are for and why they are special to you.
#6 Set aside time on the holiday when the house is full of family and friends to show old movies of past holidays.
Children love to see their favorite adults as kids. They also love to see themselves from years past and hear about what they were like when they were younger. They love to see themselves receiving past gifts. It reminds them of favorite toys and the fun of days gone by.
#7 Have a theme for the holiday.
Make up a list of possible themes (for example, rainbow, juicy, soft, or beach). Put the themes on a slip of paper and let your child pull one from a hat. Whatever is selected can become your theme for that year’s holiday. Our themes this year are architectural, surprise, and team. I have come up with some really interesting and clever gifts, but I can’t share. My family reads this blog!! Use your theme for:
- Giving each person at least one present representing the theme (a ball cap with a fruit logo on it for “juicy”). It makes gift shopping like a scavenger hunt to find something the person will like and that also fits the theme.
- Decorating the house (cuddly snowmen in every room for “soft”).
- Planning the menu (a bottle of wine labeled Sandy Winery for “beach”).
- Setting the table (use all the rainbow colors for “rainbow.”).
- Do you give him things he hasn’t asked for?
- Do you give him more than he asks for?
- Does he appreciate what he has?
If you decide that you give too much, remember you are doing it out of love, but also remember that the best love is balanced. Balance means enough, but not too much. Make the adjustments you think you should and balance your love – and your gift giving.
#9 Get the name of a family who needs help with holiday gift purchases from a local charitable agency.
Make sure you know the names and ages of children in that family. Let your child pick out a gift for the child in that family and help wrap it with the child’s name on it. We are buying for Sherrele, Edward, and Lami this year. When celebrating your holiday, be sure to talk about how that family might be enjoying the gifts you gave them and what fun they are having – just like your family is having.
#10 Open a gift every hour or at each meal.
After opening a gift, take the time to talk about who gave it and why that person might have selected it. Take a picture of it with your child and send the picture as part of a thank you note.
#11 Have a scavenger hunt to find a special present.
Hide it in the house and give clues to help the child find it.
#12 Make a gift of money that they can donate to a charity
For late elementary, middle school, and high school children, put money in their stocking with instructions that they are to make a donation to their favorite charity. Make their charity a subject of conversation throughout the holidays and offer them help in making the donation online, in-person, or through the mail. Next year, be sure to ask about their donation – and hopefully repeat the process again with a new or the same charity.
#13 Start a Holiday Tournament.
Decide on some games that everyone can play and track the best performances over several rounds of it. If you wish, you can offer a prize or have a trophy (any trinket can become the trophy) that passes on to the winner each year.