By Kerrie McLoughlin
Almost as soon as the Thanksgiving leftovers were put away when I was a kid you could find me riding in the back of my parent’s car while we sought out holiday lights. These days you’ll see me in my “mommy van” with husband and kids in tow making several treks to look at lights—only we add the extra touch of snacks and hot chocolate. I also love to make fudge and sugar cookies with my kids to give as gifts like my mom did with me. Check out these traditions, designed to make the holidays fun for everyone.
Traditions With Your Family
• Drive around your city looking at holiday lights. Do something crazy like grab an ice cream cone to eat in the car while you look at lights. Play Christmas music or winter songs on the radio to get in the spirit or go just the opposite and play silly kid songs or rock-and-roll! Jot down your favorite places to go so you won’t forget to see them again next year.
• Have a special meal. Kids love having company over for a special meal and some playtime. Plan a fun brunch with an egg casserole, monkey bread and juice. If this idea doesn’t thrill you, consider going out to a special kid-friendly restaurant you’ve never been to before (no cooking or cleanup for you … love it!).
• Enjoy a movie night or three. Pop up some popcorn, grab those Twizzlers and drag every pillow and blanket in the house to the TV room. My movie picks for you, depending on the ages of your kids, include: Elf, A Christmas Story, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, The Polar Express, Scrooged, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Home Alone. Don’t forget the classics for the little ones like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and Frosty the Snowman.
• Relax. Sounds simple, but it’s one tradition your kids will absolutely love. During the holidays it’s often hard for me to stay in the moment and do things like play new games with the kids, sit down and color, be silly, and just let the dishes and laundry go. I think we spend too much time trying to make our home look perfect for the holidays when we should focus more on what we can do for and with our children. I try to make December the month that is dedicated to the kids.
Traditions With Your Family … For Others
• Take food and treats to a fire station for the firefighters who live there 24 hours at a time. Consider a frozen lasagna with some French bread, a bagged salad and some cookies to make their lives easier for one night. Don’t forget about nursing home residents who might not get many visitors; they love to see kids, whether they bring treats or not.
• Bake cookies for friends, family, teachers, neighbors and strangers. You can make them in any shapes you want: bells, dreidels, Christmas trees, stars, or plain circles, animals and candy canes. Then frost them in different colors with either store-bought or homemade frosting (just add food coloring). Add sprinkles and crushed-up candy canes as a finishing touch.
• Help someone in need. Head to www.VounteerMatch.org to check out opportunities like being a bell-ringer for The Salvation Army for a couple of hours. Also, Operation Christmas Child through Samaritan’s Purse (www.SamaritansPurse.org) allows you to pack a shoebox with gifts for a child somewhere in the world. You can even track your box online to see which country it ends up in!
• Adopt a family that can’t afford to celebrate this year. The Salvation Army (www.SalvationArmyUSA.org) will give you a list of needs for each member of a local family. You could also contact a local battered women’s shelter, homeless shelter or church to learn about families in need. Take your kids out for a shopping trip for someone else. My kids love buying “need” items like clothes, coats and books, then picking out “extras” like small electronics, Barbies, candy and stuffed animals.
Kerrie McLoughlin is a mom of five and the author of “Make Money to Write About Your Kids.” Catch up with her at http://www.TheKerrieShow.com.