Perhaps there are new holiday traditions you want to start. My family is going through this right now. My husband and I have one son who is almost 2 years old, and we want to start some traditions in our own little family. Growing up, both of our families had many traditions that I hold dear to my heart. So, we are trying to find some things that we both enjoy doing and that our children can grow up to appreciate and look forward to, just as our parents did for us. Thinking back on my childhood, I can’t remember many of the gifts I received, but I do remember baking cinnamon rolls and taking them to families and singing Christmas carols to them. I remember our white elephant gift exchange every year with my extended family. I remember driving around our city, looking for Christmas lights and drinking hot chocolate. My sister remembers the year my mom forgot the hash browns for the Christmas breakfast. She will probably never live that down. 😊 I can remember the experiences vividly. When your children grow up, they may not remember what they received under the tree. They will remember what they felt and what they experienced. Ilya Pozin, a Journalist for Forbes Magazine says, “The thrill of purchasing things fades quickly but the joy and memories of experiences, from epic adventures to minute encounters, can last a lifetime. People who have more frequent social interactions live longer, healthier lives, experience less stress, depression, and feelings of isolation (2016).”
In this busy world, I think we can all agree that we need to spend more time with our loved ones; whether it be with our extended family, our immediate family, or family/friends. Family time provides us with long-lasting memories and relationships, regardless of religion or how you choose to observe the season.
Below are 10 activity ideas you can use to plan your precious family time this holiday season.
- Signing Story Time
Snuggle up with your children with a good holiday story. Even the teenagers love this one! Bring out your favorite stories. Learn Christmas Signs from the Signing Time Christmas Collection. Perhaps you can find out which stories they enjoy the most, and create a binder of favorites to read next year!
Looking at Christmas lights is so magical for little children. Many zoos and amusement parks have an annual Christmas light show. In some areas, there are drive-throughs where you can sit in your car (and stay warm!) while you look at their light display. One of my favorites is finding out if there are any homes in your area that program music to go along with their light display. While you are out looking at lights, you can listen to the Signing Time Christmas Music!
- Adopting a Family
There are many families who do not have the means to provide presents or a Christmas meal for their children. There are many different ways to help families in need. Some programs include the Salvation Army Adopt A Family, Toys for Tots, Angel Tree, or a local toy drive. Whether you choose a family you know, maybe in your neighborhood or church group, or a complete stranger, this experience will help you and your children feel a spirit of gratitude for the blessings they do have.
- Visit an Elderly Home or Senior Center
Many people don’t have family nearby and the holidays can be a really lonely time for them. Enjoy a few hours at an elderly home or senior center in your area. People love to chat and play games or watch movies. You can sing carols to them or just spend some time talking and visiting.
- Movie Night
Oh, so many choices! You might have to use this one a few times throughout the season. There are so many great movies! Open Netflix and pick a new Christmas movie you haven’t seen yet, or browse through your collection for an old favorite. Don’t forget about the Signing Time Christmas Collection! It is an amazing movie to watch with your children and will help them learn all the different aspects of this wonderful season, in two languages! English and ASL! You’ll learn how to sign Christmas songs step by step. If your little ones can’t sit still for a whole movie, watch Signing Time Christmas in short sections throughout the weeks of December. Whatever the choice, don’t forget the popcorn, treats, and a warm blanket to snuggle up with!
- Operation Clean Clutter
Clean out the old toys your children have outgrown or don’t play with anymore. Make room for their new interests. This is a great way to teach your children to donate and share their toys with others. Maybe even consider taking a look into your closet and finding something to donate.
- Christmas Around the World
Children are very well versed with their holiday traditions. What about other people on the other side of the world? How do they celebrate? This could be a great learning experience for the whole family. Spend the day learning about another county and what they do to celebrate. Parents can even research before and make a sweet treat to share that is popular in that county. For an extra fun experience, research what Sign Language that country uses and teach your older children some of their signs they use for the holidays.
- Gingerbread Houses
Create gingerbread houses with graham crackers, frosting, and lots of candy! You can a pre-made kit at any grocery store, make your own gingerbread, or just use graham crackers! (Save some for snacking on later). It can be as simple or as complicated as you want. Have a competition. Invite friends over to share in the fun.
- Holiday Greeting Video
Get your family together and dress up in your best Christmas gear! Whether it be fancy or in matching pajamas, record a greeting video to send to your family and friends. It can be silly or serious, whatever you choose! You can even include some of the signs you have learned from Signing Time. Show them what you have learned. After you record it, all you have to do is collect names and emails, and send the video to everyone and wait for their reaction, or post on social media. 😊
- Celebrate Winter Solstice
The Winter Solstice this year is on December 21st!! It is known as “midwinter.” It is the shortest day of the year. However, you choose to celebrate this day, have fun with it! It’s the shortest day, so maybe you will get to go to sleep early!
We hope you enjoy this magical season. There are many ways to celebrate. Remember this is a great time to create memories with your families and enjoy each precious day you have together.
Pozin, Ilya. “The Secret to Happiness? Spend Money on Experiences, Not Things.” Forbes Magazine. 3 March, 2016.