Parents Say: How can I celebrate the holidays with my child?

Parents Say: How can I celebrate the holidays with my child?

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The holidays are a great time to share favorite family traditions with your children – or to make new traditions and memories. Here's how some our site parents celebrate the holidays, keep their sanity while traveling to visit family with little ones in tow, or just find a few quiet moments amid the chaos to reflect on the meaning of the season.

Carry on family traditions

"When I was a child, my mom and dad would get the ornaments out of the attic and set them next to the tree on Christmas Eve. Sometime during the night, Santa would come, decorate the tree, fill the stockings and place them by the fireplace, leave our presents, and eat the cookies we left. I intend to keep the tradition of having Santa decorate the tree with my own daughter. I hope my daughter will be as awestruck by her first sight of the tree as I was."

"Every year my siblings and I got a visit from an elf on the nights before Christmas. The elf would put special little treats (stickers, lip gloss, candy) in a shoe we each left by the front door. It brought a bit of magic to each morning leading up to the holiday. I enjoy sharing the tradition with our child."
A our site member

"When I was a kid, my mom would buy a roll of butcher paper and some kid-safe paint in red and green. Then my brothers and I would decorate with our handprints, footprints, and finger paintings."

"We follow the tradition of the pajama elves, where elves sew magical pajamas and deliver them to good children on Christmas Eve. The pajamas are stitched with elf magic that will guarantee the children a good night’s sleep so Santa can visit unnoticed. Added bonus – cute pics of the kids Christmas morning in coordinating jammies."
A our site member

Keep the cheer while traveling

"You can take a long trip with a baby, but it requires a really good sense of humor and a good night's sleep beforehand! My 13-month-old also appreciates it if I ride in the back with her, snacks handy, while someone else drives."
Ashton's mommy

"My two little boys can handle a 16-hour holiday drive with very few problems, thanks to some small toys, kids songs on a CD, a little cooler with drinks and snacks, and an exercise stop every few hours. I also point out cool-looking stuff from the car to keep them interested in the trip. I love traveling during the holidays to see loved ones, and the boys have never made the trips impossible!"

"For long road trips to the in-laws, my husband and I drive through the night while our children sleep. The lack of activity has helped us keep our sanity on these 8- to 10-hour rides!"

"A 10-hour car trip to Grandma's and back was fine with our 18-month-old. She slept a lot, and when she was awake I sat in the back with her while my husband drove. It helped that we stopped to eat at odd times – lunch at 2 instead of noon, for example – because the restaurants were relatively empty, and she had more freedom to run around a bit. Don't forget that special blanket. It makes it much easier to sleep in the car!"

Share special treats and decorations

"The tree is more for our kids than for us anyway, so why not let them enjoy it? We put the tree where our child can reach it, but we only put lights on the bottom few feet of it. We decorate the rest of the tree like normal. This way our son can touch the tree without breaking ornaments or choking on candy canes. When the tree is turned on he likes to lie under it and look up at the lights."

"We do a big dinner on the first night, which includes the traditional foods like latkes, matzoh ball soup, and jelly doughnuts. We light the menorah and tell the story of Hanukkah. We play dreidel and open presents. We do other activities mixed into the days, like make Hanukkah crafts and decorations, and read children's Hanukkah books."
A our site member

"I love baking this time of the year. My girls love being in the kitchen with me and making cookies with hot cocoa. My husband gets home and starts shouting, 'What smells so good?' The girls run to him and say, 'Cookies, Dad!' I love this season."
A our site member

"We celebrated our first Hanukkah this year with our 1-year old son. He was just fascinated with the hanukkiah [a special candleholder], which we kept in a place where he could see it but not touch it. It was also delightful to see him eat a latke. We had so much fun that I'm already starting to look forward to next year."

"Every year when Christmas comes around, the whole family helps decorate the tree and the rest of the house. When evening comes we make finger foods and put them on a blanket on the floor. Then the family sits in front of the tree and has dinner there, listening to Christmas music or watching some holiday movies. We call it our 'finger food picnic.' It's simple, but it brings the family together for an enjoyable evening!"

"Each year we make reindeer using the girls' footprints as the head and face and their handprints as the antlers. We add a red pom-pom nose and googly eyes and put their names and ages on the back. And then each Christmas we take them out and put them up so everyone can see how much they've grown."

"We light the menorahs. My kids each have their own menorah. We make latkes and eat jelly doughnuts. The kids get a gift every night for the eight nights. It's a fun time. We always look forward to this time of year!"
A our site member

"I let my toddler paint a Christmas ornament this year, and I think we will do this every year that he is interested. Also, I let my son paint a plate for Santa's cookies."
A our site member

Teach the meaning of the season

"I love Santa and all the holiday trappings, but I want my daughters to know the real meaning of Christmas. So during every trip to the mall, we make sure to put money in the Salvation Army pot. And every night after dinner, we open a window on the Advent calendar. The most important thing is to let your kids have their own experience. If your child doesn't want to sit on Santa's lap, don't force her just because Grandma wants a picture. Relax and enjoy!"
A our site member

"Our first son only lived for 12 days, but we still include him in our holiday celebrations. When we visit his grave, we place a little toy from him for our other son to find. We also take a small gift like a toy car for our other son to give his big bubba. These little rituals help keep his memory alive for us and for his younger brother, who never knew him."
A our site member

Keep little ones calm during the celebrations

"The holidays can be fun, and yes, they can be crazy. Just remember to check in with your little ones in the midst of all the chaos."
A our site member

"I have learned that it's perfectly acceptable to take your toddler into a quiet room and give her some 'Mommy time' for snuggles or a favorite book, even when you have a house full of guests. I find it to be a nice break for myself, and it works wonders in keeping my 18-month-old in a good mood."
A our site member

"We got a great tip from Santa. When we took our 14-month-old for Santa pictures, he suggested we back her into his arms so that she wouldn't even see him, and it worked like a charm. We have the cutest, smiley-est Christmas picture!"

"Our 18-month-old is, of course, fascinated with the Christmas tree. Rather than tell her not to touch at all, we told her, 'Just touch with one finger.' She very methodically goes around touching each ornament. She doesn't disturb anything, and she satisfies her curiosity."

Start your own traditions

"When you walk into our courtyard, you are greeted by a 5-foot bronze Buddha wearing a Santa costume and holding a menorah. Yep, that about sums it up. We have a huge purple tree, Santa eats our cookies and then leaves gelt (chocolate coins for Hanukkah). I love all holidays and anything magical."
A our site member

"We celebrate the winter solstice (and the summer solstice as well) with a feast and presents for the kids. In the winter, we either make a wreath or get a tree, which we save for half the year and burn a portion of on the summer solstice. No Santa or gifts for adults. Gifts aren't major either, just little stuff. Big stuff is reserved for birthdays."
A our site member

"For Christmas, I do a tree but no angel or star. Right now, I have peacock feathers and a brightly colored snowflake on top. I teach my kids Christmas is about peace, love, and forgiveness. We promote giving, and I help my kids pick out presents for other people. We go see Santa and get pictures taken, do a baking craft, and pile in the van to drink hot chocolate and look at Christmas lights."
A our site member

"I plan to introduce my child to the holidays as world traditions. Every culture celebrates them differently, and here in America we have our own way of doing things. Some people celebrate in a church, some don't. The modern holidays are a mash-up of old and new practices from different parts of the world and in my opinion that makes them open to everyone. Celebrations make life sweeter, we celebrate because it lifts our spirits."
A our site member

"I hope to begin our own traditions this year with the cookie plate for Santa, stockings, going to midnight mass, and having a special breakfast – with Christmas music, of course. We won't have all the relatives around like I had growing up, but we will make it special in our own way."

"I am starting a new tradition this year. I am going to give my son a new ornament on Christmas Eve that he can hang on the tree himself. I'll stick with timeless designs (no TV characters), so one day when he moves away he'll have enough ornaments to decorate his first tree."
A our site member

"Last year, to help keep the belief in Santa alive, my husband got up on the roof and made a bunch of noise. Our oldest son listened to the racket and swears to this day that he heard Santa and his reindeer on our roof."
A our site member

"We celebrate Christmas as a time to be with loved ones and a time to be generous. We decorate a palm tree. We give to various causes. We bake cookies and go see holiday lights and celebrate being 'halfway out of the dark.'"
A our site member

"My extended family is atheist, pagan, Christian, and a few Jehovah's Witnesses. We celebrate holidays by just being together. The kids in the family seem to get it, and they ask questions of all their aunts and uncles when they feel like they need more information about something, but for the most part we just model acceptance of one another's beliefs and enjoy our time together. The kids get to see and experience different traditions without judgment and can decide for themselves what they like and what they believe as they grow up."
A our site member

"We've been attempting to start our own traditions for Christmas. We are not religious, but choose to appreciate the spirit, or sentiment, behind the holiday. One thing our (my husband's and mine) parents never really instilled in us was the consideration of others that really should go along with the holiday. My husband and I want to give a gift every year to someone less fortunate or volunteer at the homeless shelter or something along those lines. We want our kids understand that it's more important to give than receive, and that it feels good to give to others."
A our site member

Watch the video: 7 Things NOT to Say to a Parent With a Special Need Child (August 2022).

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