Thursday, December 12, 2013

Beating the Christmas Blues

Tis the season for snowy days, sparkling Christmas trees, winter break, and perpetually happy children right?  Wrong!  If your children are anything like mine, they spend all year looking forward in excitement to Christmas break and the holiday season, only to join in a chorus of the Christmas blues within a day or two of being out of school.  Before you know it, the excitement of being on break wears off and the I’m bored blues set in!

As every parent knows, the Christmas season can hit wallets hard as it is one of the most commercialized holidays of the year, so how can parents keep their children entertained without breaking the bank?  Although it sounds like a daunting problem, it can be solved with a little initiative and dash of creativity!

To help fellow Moms and Dads out there looking for a lifeline to help beat the Christmas blues, I have put together a list of twenty fun and low cost activities that the whole family can enjoy this Christmas season!  To make it even more special, sit down with your family, go over the list of Christmas activities, and have a vote of what sounds like the most fun!  That way everyone will feel like they are included in the decision making process!

Christmas Activities
  1. Bake, bake, bake!  Christmas is known for whipping up sweet confections such as Christmas cookies, candies, and pies.  Children get a thrill in helping out in the kitchen, especially when they get to show off their handiwork.  To make it even more interesting perhaps you can invite over family and friends and have a cookie-decorating contest!
  2. Christmas movie night!  Bundle up in your favorite Christmas pajamas, break out the cocoa, and settle in for a fun movie night!  Some popular Christmas movies for kids are, The Polar Express, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, and countless others!
  3. Play in the snow!  If you live in a snowy area, what better fun than to have a good old-fashioned snowball fight!  Other popular fun snowy day activities are making snow angels, a snowman, or even going sledding.
  4. Visit a tree farm.  If you live Christmas trees, bring the children along!  They will have a ton of fun racing up and down the rows hunting down the perfect tree!  Even if you opt for an artificial tree, a tree farm can still be a ton of fun as they routinely sell decorations and often have hot cocoa and apple cider on hand.
  5. Adopt a family through Angel Tree.  One of the best activities that you can do with your children through the Christmas season is to teach them to give back to those less fortunate.  Angel Tree is just one of many charitable organizations that allow you to ‘adopt’ a family for Christmas.
  6. Volunteer!  In the spirit of giving back, call up local soup kitchens, animal shelters, or even churches to see if they need any extra help.  Many times, with cold weather moving in, there are more needs for food distribution, jacket and coat drives, and countless other ways to get involved in your community.  This is a great way to gently remind children how blessed they are.
  7. Visit a live nativity.  Many churches nowadays are offering live nativities that you can either drive or walk through.  This is a great activity that is fun for all ages and puts the true reason for the season in perspective.
  8. Build a gingerbread house!  A family tradition in our house that our children look forward to each year is building and decorating their own gingerbread houses!
  9. Elf on the shelf.  One newly popular tradition many families are embracing is elf on the shelf.  Although this is more geared towards younger children, older children can get involved as well by helping come up with new ‘elf scenarios’.
  10. Candlelight Christmas service.  Many churches have Christmas candlelight services that are filled with carols, the Christmas story, and fellowship for all.  For my family, the candlelight Christmas service has become one of our favorite traditions.
  11. Create a care package for a solider!  This is a great way to give back and encourage those who can’t be home with their families during the Christmas season.  Possible ideas to include are hot chocolate mix, toiletries, individually wrapped Christmas candies, and a card expressing your family’s thanks for their service.
  12. Breakfast with Santa!  This time-honored tradition is offered frequently throughout the Christmas season and is usually always free.  Check your local newspaper as many community centers, YMCA’s, and farmers markets routinely have Santa visits.
  13. Christmas light shows.  Although this is not free, it is usually low cost.  Popular Christmas light shows are often set up in botanical gardens, parks, or even sometimes along the boardwalk at the oceanfront depending on where you live.  Check your local newspaper or radio stations for more information on what is available in your area.
  14. Christmas night rides.  A free alternative to Christmas light shows is hopping in your car, taking a ride through various neighborhoods, and checking out the lights.  Some neighborhoods collaborate together and even have luminary displays.
  15. Night adventures!  This is a classic tradition that my family does all year round, but during the Christmas season, it seems especially special.  On a weekend night when you don’t have to wake up early the next day, after the kids fall asleep for a few hours, wake them up and surprise them with an adventure!  It can be just riding and seeing the lights or even bundling up and hitting the nearest IHOP for some Christmas pancakes!  Children love it as the magic to them is having an adventure while the rest of the world is sleeping.
  16. Host a Christmas party for your family and friends.  Children love to help plan special events and have their input recognized.  Bring the whole family together and plan a party together, letting everyone in on choosing the guest list, to party food, activities and games, and decorations.
  17. Go Christmas caroling!  This is a great activity and can be done just as a family or part of a group such as with a church group.  Popular spots to carol are through your neighborhood, nearby residents of a nursing home, or hospitals.
  18. Bring Christmas cookies to your local first responders.  Nothing shows appreciation more than letting your local first responders know that you value their services.  Many times, they are working throughout the entire Christmas season and miss this special time with their own families, so it’s a great way to show that you care.
  19. Open one present on Christmas Eve!  This is another tradition my children look forward to each year.  Many times, we will put together a Christmas box for each child containing their favorite Christmas snacks, a small toy or book, and one pair of Christmas pajamas.  They love the excitement of getting to open one present early, and the Christmas pajamas makes for wonderful pictures on Christmas morning.
  20. Have a Christmas tree sleepover!  Nothing is more magical than falling asleep watching the twinkling lights of your Christmas tree surrounded by your family.  Even for older children, this is a tradition they won’t soon forget!

There are countless other activities that your family can participate in during the Christmas season, this is just a list to get you started.  Whatever you choose to do, make it something special for your family that you can keep going for years to come so you always have fond memories to look back upon.  Feel free to comment below with your own favorite Christmas activities and traditions!

Merry Christmas!

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