We’ve just begun our new Christmas traditions and it’s so fun! Having a five year old at this time of year is especially magical. He finds wonder in everything: the first snowfall, sending Christmas cards, holiday baking, decorating, dreaming and his newest obsession– homemade almond milk hot cocoa. As a parent, I want to create an environment for him where he can explore all of his excitement, imagination and creativity. I also want him to have all of the holiday experiences without all the sugar, the consumerism and the disappointment that can come from those parts of the season.
If you’re looking for ways to connect with your family this Christmas, here are a few of the things we’re doing to celebrate this time of year in our house. Take what you like, leave out what you don’t and do some research of your own about ideas of how to create a little magic at your house.
The Advent Calendar – I grew up with the classic cardboard box, filled with kinda gross chocolates inside. It was so fun opening each little window and counting down the days until Christmas. I love the idea of anticipation, so to healthify the concept of the Advent Calendar, we went with an empty wreath style one that I picked up at Target last year.
Instead of filling it with toys and candy that my kids don’t need, I tucked a little piece of paper inside describing our family activity for the day. They range in complexity from a Christmas Scavenger Hunt to writing Christmas cards to their grandparents to reading a Christmas story together by the tree. Our oldest really looks forward to opening the boxes each day and finding out what adventure we’ll be getting into. It also gives us time together to work on projects, get outside, and talk about life.
The Christmas Book-A-Day – I started this one last year, and ended up finding most of our books at second hand stores around town. I also ordered a few from Chapters and we wound up with a pretty good collection. The first year I wrapped them all individually and I have dreams of one day sewing little bags for each of them, but we’ll see if that ever happens. This year, I just put them into a special bin and he gets to choose a new one every night before bed. The trick to making this special (we read to him every night before bed anyway), is putting the books away after Christmas. These books become special because he doesn’t have access to them year round. In fact, this year he started asking about the Advent books weeks before December. It’s really nice to cuddle up and read a story together at the end of the day.
The Elf – now there are lots of differing opinions about the elf on the shelf, and actually ours isn’t that kind of elf, but we introduced the concept of the elf this year. We haven’t framed it the same way some parents might. Instead, we engage his magic loving mind and just have the elf participating in various activities each night (that isn’t mischief). He loves searching for him every morning and hanging out with him all day EVERY DAY.
The most important thing we’ve been wanting to include, but needed to wait until he was old enough to understand was the concept of giving, charity and kindness to others. There are elements of this in his Advent activities, in his Elf’s shenanigans, and in how we talk to him about the Christmas season and how that should stretch into every day of the year. We have participated in a few charity drives for food and clothing and toys and engaged him in these activities to show him a little about caring for his fellow man.
Now, he’s five, so we don’t expect the world from him yet, but we’re really glad that he seems to be grasping some of it and we’re hopeful that in years to come he’ll have a heart full of love and a childhood full of amazing memories.
Happy Holidays everyone!