We have been cutting back on gifts this year. Really, who isn’t right? Instead we have been trying to focus on experiences, rituals, and our holiday traditions. We were brainstorming ideas, mostly from our own childhood memories, and listing all of the things we love to do around Christmas time. If I am going to take the time to write things down, I might as well write them on the blog and share them with my readers!
10 Almost Free Things To Do With Your Kids For Christmas
1. Read Hilary Knight’s The Twelve Days of Christmas. I had this book when I was a kid and bought it for Tiny-Small long before her first Christmas. It has so many memories for me. My mom actually kept it in the car for the month of December so we could sing together and get all of the words right.
2. Drive around singing Christmas carols as loudly and badly as possible. Don’t know the words? Make them up. Some of my best memories from my childhood, during the holiday season, revolve around me and my mom running errands in the car and singing. We often got the words wrong, argued about which words were the right words, and laughed really hard. We still laugh now when we talk about it. Good times!
3. Make ornaments. Lots of ornaments. Use the glitter and all the bling you can find. Kids love to glue and cut things and they love the shiny, gaudiness of Christmas, at least my daughter does. If you need ideas just do a search including the materials you have on hand. Something will come up! If you get too many ornaments made just start handing them out to people: The grocery store clerk, the mail clerk, or the bank teller. Kids love to give. They especially love to give things they have made, so why not help them spread a little joy in your town?
4. Write letters. Write them to Santa. Write them to Soldiers. Write them to Grandma. Write them to a lonely neighbor. Let your kids dictate the words if they are too young to write their letters. My daughter dictated a letter to Santa that started with, “Dear Santa, hope you like you summer.” I think she got that from watching Charlie Brown. The letters are funny and adorable and sort of like taking a photograph of their minds in this moment: priceless. Let the kids decorate them with stickers, crayons, and anything else you have available in you craft bins.
5. Make cocoa. Make popcorn. Watch Christmas movies all day long. Watch them until you feel just like you have eaten too much candy. Kids love routines and traditions. Watch the same movies every year. Talk about them. You won’t believe how much your kids notice year after year or how their perceptions change.
6. Take your dogs on a walk in the snow. Find some forest! Get outside. Go sledding. If you don’t have snow go outside anyway. Get really, really cold. Experience winter in all of it’s glory. Then go inside and do number 5.
7. Take your kids to see Santa or anyplace that has a winter wonderland scene going on. Get out and soak up the decorations. Spend one night driving around looking at Christmas lights. This is one of our favorite holiday traditions. We know all of the best neighborhoods for lights.
8. Make “wish-book” collages. Have kids cut out all of the toys the want for Christmas. Staple some paper together to make a book or use a poster board. If you want to get a way from the gift-giving and gift-getting you can have them cut out objects that represent what they wish for in the new year: happiness, sunny days, running with their dog, playing with friends, etc. You can do it too. What do you wish for? A peaceful home? A clean kitchen? I would totally put that on my list.
9. Turn a lazy Sunday into a holiday photo shoot. Drag out the props for a particular theme. Be silly together. Pose dramatically. Dance, jump, roll around on the floor. Put your camera on auto-shoot and see what happens. You can get photos printed for a few pennies and they make great gifts for Aunts, Uncles, and Grandparents. Let the kids make frames out of construction paper and any other materials you happen to have.
10. Spend some time talking about what Christmas means to you. Is it about family? The birth of Jesus? The parties with friends? What is important to you. Tell your kids and then ask them what they love about this time of year. When we celebrated Thanksgiving we went around the table saying what we were thankful for. Tiny-Small surprised me with her answers: Auntie Brenna (my sister), dresses, and pink. I can’t wait to ask her what Christmas means to her. I might create a little book so we can write these things down and see how they change over the years. It’s kind of cool to watch how your values develop and grow and even just your preferences. When my daughter said she was thankful for a color it made me think about all of the little things I am thankful for too.
11. I know I said 10, but this one is a bonus: Make cookies! Lots of them. Spend all day baking and invite friends over to help decorate them.
What kind of almost free things do you do with your kids during the Christmas season?
Add to my list! I am always looking for ideas.
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