Christmas has always been one of my favourite seasons of the year. For me, it’s a time to take stock of my year and reflect on what I hope to see in the new year ahead. For our family, the school holidays mark the beginning of a season where we take a breather from the rigours of busy school schedules and enjoy the freedom of spending quality time together, indoors as well as out.
Making our own Christmas advent calendar...
One of the things my children look forward to during this season is making our own Christmas advent calendar. While the convenience of buying an advent calendar may seem tempting, making your own doesn’t have to be a complicated affair.
We’ve used colourful paper bags, a varied collection of old glass jars, any containers or pouches you might have on hand. All you need to do is to mark the days, counting down to Christmas on your bags or containers and write out on a piece of paper, activities to do together for each of those days. These activities could include watching a movie, baking cookies together, exploring a new outdoor playground, having a picnic in the living room, engaging in crafts or science experiments, the list goes on, limited only by your creativity. I also like to include a small surprise (e.g. a piece of candy, a small stationery item, a little toy) in the bag for every day of the countdown.
Homemade Christmas gifts...
Even before I had children, I looked forward to planning the homemade gifts that I would make for family and friends at Christmas. This has now become a Christmas tradition in our family, where we think of something meaningful to make. Keeping to a tradition like this helps us teach our children that there is more to giving than just going to a shop and buying a present.
“…there is more to giving than just going to a shop and buying a present.”
Now that my children are older, they take part in the brainstorming process and we decide together what we plan to make as well as come up with the design of the gift tags and the packaging that go with the gifts. So far, we have made marshmallows, flavoured popcorn, cupcakes, embroidered cards, foot scrubs and this year, we are thinking of making miniature clay figurines!
Making Christmas ornaments...
Christmas decorations around the house really help to set the festive mood. We don’t always have a physical Christmas tree up but I’ve always made it a point to put up a tree of some sort in the house - that has ranged from a mini table tree, or the silhouette of a tree made with Christmas lights. Garlands, decorative Christmas stockings and even filling the home with the smell of cinnamon, ginger and berries (I use essential oils for this) all add to the warm, ‘Christmassy’ mood at home.
Every year since my daughter was born, we create a set of homemade Christmas decorations and our collection is growing. We’ve made gingerbread men, Christmas trees and snowmen garlands made of felt, heart-shaped clay ornaments decorated and coloured by the children. It warms my heart whenever I take our stash of Christmas ornaments out and reminisce over the time each set was created.
A big tradition for us during the holiday season has been to involve our children in serving the community. We have found several opportunities that welcome families to volunteer together during the school holidays - packing supplies and delivering them to old folks living in one-room flats, joining seniors at a daycare centre for their morning exercise and then serving them breakfast afterwards; spending time with the elderly at a dementia home, and reading to underprivileged children at a care centre.
“my children look forward to Christmas because of the time we get to spend together as a family”
More than just the giving and receiving of presents, Christmas represents an opportunity to teach our children to think beyond their wants and develop compassion for others in the community. Knowing that my children look forward to Christmas because of the time we get to spend together as a family and the chance to serve someone other than themselves, makes this, for me, the most wonderful time of the year!
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