Creating family traditions over the holidays0
Stop and smell the Christmas tree! Learn some new ways to build memories during the holidays.
Spend quality time with your child… For many parents it can be particularly challenging to spend quality time with their children during the rush of the holiday season. Set time aside daily to show your kids how special they are. Try some of the following ideas:
- Create holiday cards. Instead of buying holiday greeting cards this year, be creative and team up with your child to make your very own cards.
- Tell stories. Read to your child, share a story from your own childhood or make up an adventure.
- Cook together. Let your child help plan and cook meals. Teach your child to make a traditional holiday food or create a new tradition. Eat together and have everyone share a highlight or a funny part of their day. Be attentive when your child talks. It makes him or her feel important.
- Gather large pine cones outside. Decorate them with glitter and attach yarn to the top to hang them on gifts or on the Christmas tree.
- Get a caroling group together or join a caroling group and sing carols around your neighborhood or at a nursing home, etc. Most kids love to sing and it is a wonderful way for them to make others happy.
- Decorate gingerbread houses. Have a decorating contest and split family/friends into small groups at Thanksgiving or around Christmas and have a contest for most unique, most traditional, etc. If you do them at Thanksgiving, they can be left on display throughout the holiday. Consider putting the houses together the day before so they are sturdy to work on.
- Have a sugar cookie decorating party. Make and bake the cookies in advance. Set a table with different frostings and candy to decorate with.
- For Hanukkah, make latkes and Chanukah cookies with your children. Place the Menorah in the window to share the light of Hanukkah with friends and neighbors.
- Work on your holiday menu early by going online or reading magazines for recipes and fun ideas. Consider asking a relative for family recipes to keep family traditions alive.
START NEW FAMILY TRADITIONS [Shared by parents – you can add your own below]…
- Have the kids put on their PJs, put hot chocolate in sippy cups and drive around town looking at Christmas lights.
- Some families buy the kids a new ornament so that when they are older and get married, they will have some sentimental ones to start their tree (great gift from grandparents too).
- As a present to open on Christmas Eve, buy the kids new pajamas they can open and wear. Great for photos on Christmas morning.
- On Christmas eve we always mix oats and glitter in bags and we sprinkle on our lawn for Santa to see and the reindeer to eat. Kids of all ages can do this and love it!
- Host a group of your children’s friends and decorate holiday cookies or gingerbread houses. The kids could even consider sharing them with a retirement home.
- Make the tree decorating a special event: play Christmas music, drink hot chocolate, string popcorn, etc.On Christmas Eve, make snowballs and light candles on them to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus (snowballs are vanilla ice cream rolled in coconut or white chocolate chips in a holiday muffin liner with a candle).
- EXPLORE THE HOLIDAY LIGHTS WITH A SCAVENGER HUNT… We have found our kids are still not too old to drive around and look at the holiday lights. They just have more opinions on what they think is pretty and what they just find entertaining. Pack the car with popcorn and cocoa and really explore the neighborhood displays. We also love the idea
- CHRISTMAS MORNING SCAVENGER HUNT… On Christmas Eve, hide packages around the house and make clues for finding the gifts. This will make Christmas morning last a little longer and keep everyone busy.
Celebrating Christmas and Hanukkah
- When my great-grand parents immigrated here from Russian, they wanted to be “American” so they began celebrating Christmas. They also continued to celebrate Hanukkah to honor the traditions of their religion and heritage. Four generations later, my children are growing up celebrating both. While neither my husband (whose as they say a “goyim”) are neither particular religious, it is important to us to give meaning to both of these holidays for our children. Ever since my first of three daughters was 18 months old, we have picked a name off a charitable organization’s tree, shopped for the person, and returned the gift back. With three kids, I now give them a budget and they each shop to donate their item(s).I recently read that too often we tell our children that the meaning of Christmas is giving and not getting, but then we don’t give our children enough opportunities to give.
- For Hanukkah, each year I go to one child’s class and teach the kids how to play dreidel and bring latkes. All the children love playing the game and keeping some chocolate gold coins at the end. We also want this holiday to have meaning for our children. We always re-tell the historical story about religious freedom for the Jews and the miracle of the oil lasting for eight days. Additionally, we also explain that we light the lights each year to not only celebrate the Jews religious freedom, but religious freedom for people from every religion all around the world even today. Peace on Earth, C. Randolph