Here’s five fun ideas to try this month with your little darlings!
Keep all your Christmas cards, and let your children choose one card at dinner time and pray for the family that sent the card!
My mother did this when I was a little girl. Now I store all of our cards in a red wicker basket after the holidays by the table. Samson and Esther love choosing one at each meal to pray for
Sibling (or friend/cousin) gift exchange!
Want to help your kids not be selfish at Christmas? Try a sibling gift exchange! (Or cousin or friend exchange if they’re an only child.) If you are on a budget, let them choose one item at the dollar store or make something!
Samson and I took a special date to Target so he could pick out a gift for two-year-old sister Esther. On the drive over, I asked him what he thought she would like (so cute). We made our way past all the boy toys, and turned into the pink princess aisles. He choose Cinderella and two tiny dolls. I talked to him a lot about how kind he was to think of his little sister. And when we waited in line to check out, I asked him what he thought her response would be when she opened her new dolls. I wanted to get him excited about GIVING.
We had a great time and got a Starbucks treat afterwards to celebrate. We wrapped the presents while Esther was taking a nap. Then I let Samson lead her to the tree to show her the wrapped gifts under the tree when she woke up. (She loves them so much she carries her wrapped gifts all over the house – ha!)
One of the things I am most passionate about as a parent is teaching my children to be grateful, and not entitled. Try a sibling gift exchange! Let’s help our children be involved in GIVING, rather than getting, during the holidays. “It is more blessed to give than receive.”
Surprise Christmas lights!
My parents did this growing up and we remember it with smiles as adults. They would act like it was a normal bedtime – brush teeth, get our pajamas on, bedtime story, lights out, etc. THEN they would burst in our room about 10 minutes later and say, “SURPRISE! Today we’re going to see CHRISTMAS LIGHTS!” They loaded all five children in their silver minivan (let me tail yew, as we say in Texas, it was a rockin’ 80’s minivan). Then we drove through a local neighborhood to look at the lights in our pajamas. Mom brought a thermos of hot chocolate, a bag of mini-marshmallows and a popcorn. (I remember the marshmallows the most – ha!) We started doing this with Samson and Esther each year, and it is a HIT!
Sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus.
On Christmas day, to start the day off with a Christ-centered focus, vs. presents, try singing the song “Happy Birthday” to Jesus with a lit candle! This is a great way to help children STOP and remember what Christmas is all about: Christ’s birth (birthday in little people terms). My mom would make a special breakfast bread as Jesus’ birthday cake – a pumpkin chocolate chip bread. I’ve used banana bread or blueberry muffins. After you are done singing, remind your little darlings about the meaning of Christmas. Kids love birthdays so this is a great way to incorporate the Lord in a visible way for them on Christmas!
Buy a Christmas ornament for your child each year.
When I was a brand new bride, my mother-in-law handed me a tin barrel of Christmas ornaments to begin our tree decorating. But they weren’t just any ornaments. They were David’s ornaments with his name and the year scribbled on the bottom of each one in black sharpie. His mom had bought him one per year, and they often reflected something that happened that year in his life. (I.e. one was a pair of dice, remembering his Vegas trip to celebrate college graduation. Another was a stock exchange one, when he got his first job as an investment adviser.) I started doing the same thing with my kids. I make it a fun date, and I take a child, just one-on-one, to Hobby Lobby and let them choose their ornament for the year. It’s a good excuse in the busy holiday to slow down and have fun with your little one! My kids love looking through their old ornaments and searching for a new one. Someday I will gift them a tin of ornaments from their life to start their own tree, and their own traditions.
STOP AND SMELL: Today, at Chick Fil A, my wise mother told me a great perspective thought to keep in mind while parenting the little years! She said often it seems like all your children are calling your name – “MAMA!” “Mom! “Mama!!!” – at once. It seems everyone needs you constantly. She said STOP in that moment and let your mind race back to when you were wishing and waiting for the day when your baby would FINALLY say the word: “Mama!” Try to remember how precious it is to be called “Mama”, instead of focusing on the stress of everyone needing you all the time. I LOVED that reminder! What a great parenting perspective idea!