The days leading up to the holidays can be filled with crazy, hectic rushing around. You're trying to find gifts for everyone on your list, getting everyone together for that perfect photo card, shopping, wrapping, cooking, baking, cleaning and everything around your work and school schedules. The holidays can be especially stressful if you are on a tight budget due to the rough economy, going to graduate school, or have been recently laid off of work. As tough as it is right now, a lack of funds can be a holiday blessing, as it offers a great chance to get even more creative and spend more time with your family.
Try not to forget this is a magic time for your little ones and it won't last long. There are many fun activities you can do together that will help you enjoy the season.
Involve your kids in holiday baking. It teaches them measurement, proportion and how to follow instructions. Delegate jobs according to your kids' ages and abilities, and encourage participation. Not only will you enjoy the time you spend together, but you'll have lots of treats to pass out to neighbours and friends at the end of the night. There are many sites sites with great recipes, tips and resources for your aspiring bakers.
Decorate the house with your children. Kids have the natural enthusiasm to accomplish this task with much more energy than adults. Start with the tree. As you're unwrapping each ornament, you can describe its history to your children. Did it belong to their grandparents? Was it one of your ornaments when you were young? Your children can help you create elegant displays in your home with miniature villages, fresh wreaths with crystal or glass accents and colourful ribbons. There are lots of decorating tips online to get you brainstorming.
Reconnect with your family. Plan an overnight stay at grandma and grandpa's house. Try to leave the electronic toys at home and bring blocks, puzzles and games that encourage group play. Your kids can also look through photo albums with your parents and listen to stories about you when you were a child. While there, plan a genealogy project. There are booklets available online that allow you to fill in your information. Talk to the grandparents who can fill in any missing facts.
Help your kids make presents for family and friends. With your help, your kids can make candles using Christmas cookie cutters, honeycomb wax sheets, wicks and scissors. Another great family gift idea is to make coasters from your kids' hand prints. You'll need card stock, a pencil, two coordinating or contrasting fabrics, and a package of double-sided stiff fusible interfacing.
Share the gift of music with your children. Take them caroling (very fun and not very pricey) or to a free a holiday concert at your local cultural center. Most venues also offer lower priced matinee performances and you can sometimes get discount tickets at your local recreation department or through other local organizations like the Boy Scouts or Optimists Club.
The most important thing to remember during this holiday season is to make every minute count. Whether you are taking the family to a local holiday concert, to church for worship, or baking holiday treats, being mindful and grateful that you are all together during this season will make you and your kids happier.
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