This is the perfect season to get jolly and make life magical for kids and adults alike. We are now at the tail-end of the longest year of our lives and parents throughout the world are especially tired. The collective need and longing for magic and holiday cheer can be felt everywhere you turn.
As the mother of four boys, I can tell you that our kids are no different. Their wish lists were carefully curated long before Thanksgiving. The countdown to Christmas is ON several weeks earlier than normal.
This year, more than ever before, I feel a great responsibility to make the next month not only memorable, but also magical beyond compare. Our family has decided to take our usual Christmas traditions and turn them into cheer-spreading opportunities.
We are determined to sprinkle happiness and joy as far and wide into our community as possible. 2020 was a trying year for all of us. Thankfully, these ideas are easily implemented and best of all, they don’t cost a lot.
How Your Kids Can Spread Joy This Holiday Season:
1. Write cards to the elderly.
During the past year, kids everywhere are missing the special connection they have with their grandparents and the elderly are longing for the love and attention they usually get from their grandkids. Due to worldwide COVID restrictions, nursing home residents have been left without face-to-face visitors for months. This holiday season, “adopting a grandparent” in a local nursing home may just be the type of cheer and happiness the elderly in your community need.
I reached out to our local nursing home and spoke with their lead nurse. I explained that I would like to send a card or a letter to their most lonely residents. Well, due to their visitation restrictions, ALL their residents are lonely. Before I knew it, I had committed to giving the nursing home 40 letters, one for each of their residents. Thankfully, I have a wonderful network of friends. Through social media, my campaign to “adopt a grandparent” has spread far and wide. This year, I may just be able to bring each resident TWO cards or letters. Many of the cards include a return envelope, so the elderly recipient can write back and hopefully start a pen pal relationship.
2. Make ornaments for relatives.
It is a Danish Christmas tradition from my childhood to have the kids add ornaments to the family’s Christmas tree decorations every year. These ornaments are handmade, often times of paper, felt or supplies found in nature. This year, as we get creative with our ornaments, we will make extras to give to relatives near and far.
3. Bake cookies for friends and neighbors.
Santa isn’t the only one who loves freshly baked cookies and milk. Kids and adults alike are tempted by homemade cookies and desserts. Nothing says “we are thinking of you” like dropping off a box of cookies on a neighbor’s doorstep.
We like to add a handwritten recipe card and a story about where the recipe came from. Knowing that someone’s grandmother passed down a recipe gives it a special personal touch.
4. Record each other reading a favorite book for a friend or classmate.
This holiday season, our two youngest kids have had a great time with their VTech® KidiZoom® Creator Cam. They take turns recording each other reading their favorite books and then we send the videos to their friends via email.
Due to continued COVID-restrictions, our kids have not set foot inside a school since March. Our kids miss their friends and the connections they made last year with their amazing school-family. Creating these videos with the VTech® KidiZoom® Creator Cam for their friends has allowed our kids to feel more connected, while sharing their favorite books, silly stories, and funny riddles and jokes.
5. Put together a care package.
The holidays this year will most likely be spent in much smaller groups than in years past. Putting together a personalized care package for your loved ones not only says “we are thinking of you”, but also gives them a chance to enjoy delicious food, drinks and baked goods as if you were there with them.
Our Thanksgiving this year looked quite a bit different from previous years. However, before the big day we delivered a personal care package for the grandparents and our other relatives. Our kids loved helping me put the care package together, picking things they thought the recipients would truly enjoy.
Care package ideas: local coffee, home baked cookies, snacks for the kids, kid-friendly crafts, a plant or flowers and a card signed by everyone in the family.
6. Decorate with Christmas lights for the neighborhood and community.
One of my favorite memories from when our kids were younger, was going for walks through our community during the month of December and admiring our neighbors’ Christmas light displays.
This year, our new neighbors challenged us to a friendly “Christmas light feud” and it is the best idea of 2020. My husband and our oldest teen were outside most of the day, decorating our entire front yard with Christmas lights in all colors, shapes and sizes. As I took our youngest kid out front to admire our Christmas lights, I found two families gathered outside our house, admiring the lights with their young kids. Remember, decorating for the holidays brings as much joy to your community as it does to your family.
Let your kids capture pictures and videos of the Christmas light decorations with their VTech® KidiZoom® Creator Cam. The images will be a great way to recall the happy memories you shared this holiday season.
7. Allow siblings to buy presents for each other with a small set budget.
As finances may be tighter for a lot of families this year, we are focusing more on quality over quantity when it comes to gift giving. We will sit down with our kids and have each of them pick gifts for their siblings, while sticking to a budget. I can’t wait to see the holiday magic flowing as each of them think about their brothers and their specific likes and interests.
Looking back on my favorite childhood Christmas memories, it’s the thoughtful Christmas presents that stick out to me. One year, my sister made a box out of craft paper and filled it with the small plastic figurines I loved to play with, scented pencils and coordinating erasers. I remember opening the box and being unable to focus on anything else for the rest of that holiday. Her gift came straight from her heart - and went straight to mine. It is my hope that our kids will give each other gifts as perfect and meaningful as my sister’s present was to me.
The holiday season is about giving. Giving your time and giving love. What a wonderful gift we give our children, by teaching them the joy of spreading holiday magic and cheer.
While this year was challenging in a lot of ways, it has also given us the unique opportunity to teach our kids gratitude for the things we have, appreciation for the things money can’t buy and a deeper love for holiday magic.
Tove Maren Stakkestad is a Danish/ American writer and author with a unique, sarcastic and relatable voice in the parenting community.
As a mother of four boys, she reports live from the trenches of motherhood and successfully helps parents everywhere to parent with heart, humor and lots of Danish hygge.