The holidays are my favorite time of year- I love the music, the weather changes, all the excitement, and the break from school and work. The only difficult aspect of the holidays for us is living far away from the rest of our family. We have traveled for every single Thanksgiving and Christmas since having our first child almost 6 years ago. We do not for a second regret the commitment we have made to spend this time with our extended families, especially because our kids love it so much. But after a few years, my husband and I noticed that it was hard to create our own family traditions since we weren’t actually home for the holidays. We wanted to find a way to make things special for the kids and create long-lasting memories in our own homes as well as with our extended family, so we’ve had to get a bit creative.
For those of you in a similar boat, here are some fun holiday ideas to make things a little more special for your kids prior to the chaos and excitement of travel.
1) Christmas Music Day: My friend (and our blog founder!) kicks off the holiday season on November 1st each year with this special day: she starts playing Christmas music and fills the house with the yummy smell of pumpkin pie. It’s the perfect way to get her family in gear for the weeks of fun ahead.
2) Create Thanksgiving or holiday placemats for all of the guests ahead of time and bring it with you. I stole this one from my older sister, whose son did this for us last Thanksgiving. He was so excited to show off his craftsmanship and hard work, and everyone else was happy to have an assigned seat!
3) Designate a special day to decorate your home. We always fly back on the Saturday after Thanksgiving so that we can devote that Sunday solely to decorating our house for Christmas as a family. We set up the tree, hang the ornaments and holly, and get out all the holiday dishware. It’s a big day and we are tired by the end. But the kids love it, and we feel our house is ready in enough time that we can really enjoy it.
4) Christmas Book Advent Basket: Instead of the traditional advent calendars, try wrapping 24 books and having your child(ren) open one each day. This is an exciting and enriching way to count down to Christmas Eve. You could swap out books for other little gifts or surprises if your bookshelf is already crowded.
5) Get crafty: Make a special Christmas crafting day and let the kids go wild. This could include projects like a holiday wreath, gingerbread house, stockings, or ornaments.
6) Bake and deliver holiday goodies to your neighbors: This is a fun way to get to know your neighbors a little better and help your kids find the spirit of giving.
7) Write a letter to Santa asking him to come a few days early: One of the biggest struggles with Christmas travel is what to do with the big presents you don’t want to lug around. The solution? Write a letter to Santa asking him to stop by your home a few days early….
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(This post was originally published on Mid-Peninsula Mom’s Blog on November 17th, 2017)