This is such an exciting time of year for children. How do you temper their excitement without making yourself crazy? After all, you will not have time to get things done as early as TV commercials suggest. So, I have some suggestions for keeping your holidays spirit-filled.
Make time for children to be involved with your holiday planning. An Advent calendar is very helpful for counting off the days. Another fun way to count with young children is a paper chain. You can make one out of colored paper, or have the children decorate paper with rubber stamps, crayons and markers and then cut the paper into strips. You can glue a chain together as each day begins, or make the chain as long as you want and subtract a link every day. Hang the chain in the child's room and count it often, out loud.
Pick out holiday books from the library. Every night read one holiday book before bed. You will be amazed at the sheer number of books and stories that you have never heard of. Save the best for last. What would that be? Tradition in our family is The Polar Express and The Night Before Christmas are the last books read on Christmas Eve. Even the grown-up children expect that! Include books from different traditions. During Hanukkah, even if you don't celebrate that holiday, read a couple of books that children will begin to understand this holiday about light and hope.
Let children help. They can help with cooking and baking even if they only pour in the ingredients that you will mix. If you participate in projects to help others make sure children go with you and help pick out presents that will be going somewhere else.
TURN OFF THE TV! Children are being overexposed to commercials and products. Put on video tapes and DVDs that you control and do not have commercial interruptions.
Put on music. Borrow CDs from the library and enjoy the many artists that have recorded holiday music. If your child wants one over and over again, try and purchase it for a gift. Let your children play near you as you work on cards and letters to loved ones. If you are inserting pictures, let the children decorate paper with rubber stamps and fingerprints. Family members will love it, and so will the kids.
Looking for book ideas? Here are some of my favorites!
Dream Snow by Eric Carle
Merry Christmas Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola
Nutcracker Noel by Kate McMullen
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
Counting to Christmas by Nancy Tafuri
Check back here for more book suggestions and ideas for enjoying your holidays. If you have favorite books, please share them.