Thursday, December 9, 2010

ten tips for making this the ultimate holiday season

What makes this time of the year special to me and my family?  How do we make sure it has real meaning?  Here are 10 tips I have that I have.

Gifts:

1.  If you exchange gifts as part of your holiday traditions, make them fun and meaningful.  Sometimes children get so many gifts during the holiday time that they sort of get overwhelmed and soon it all just becomes "stuff" that gets forgotten about or seldom played with.  Instead of showering children with a sea of presents, how about focusing on really special gift that will "wow" them?  Hasbro's Ultimate Gifts has some really great suggestions:

FURREAL FRIENDS BISCUIT, MY LOVIN’ PUP
(Ages 5 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $199.99/Available: Now)
FURREAL FRIENDS BUTTERSCOTCH MY FURREAL PONY
(Ages 4 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $299.99/Available: Now)
MONOPOLY ONYX EDITION
(Ages 8 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $49.99/Available: Now)
SCRABBLE PREMIER Wood Edition
(Ages 8 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $119.99/Available: Now)
STAR WARS MILLENNIUM FALCON
(Ages 4 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $179.99/Available: Now)
TRANSFORMERS ULTIMATE BUMBLEBEE
(Ages 5 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $89.99/Available: Now)


When I read this list right away I knew one little boy here that would love the Millennium Falcon!  I also know one baby girl who would love the Butterscotch Pony!


2.  Encourage your children to be generous.  Get them involved in the giving process.  Have them help select gifts for their teachers.  They can wrap presents for members of your family.  Do you give something to the paper boy, mailman, or UPS driver?  Have the children run out to present it to them.  They will enjoy being involved and it will foster a generous spirit as they grow.


3.  While gifts are nice, remember its not the main reason we even have a holiday season after all.  Try not to over focus on the getting and even giving of gifts.  Make sure your children are well aware of this.  This includes setting aside extra time for special Church services and activities.




Volunteer:

4.  Make time for your whole family to  volunteer together.  Not sure where your services might be needed?  Here are a few suggestions...Animal shelters often become very full as temperatures drop and people take pity on animals they see wandering in the cold and snow.  Extra cage cleaners may be needed.  Nursing homes often have residents that just don't have any family left or family in the area.  They sure would appreciate a card and maybe a picture colored by your child.  Just a few minutes spent with a patient even when you don't know they lets them know people still care.  Food banks get the bulk of their donations at this time of the year.  They may need people to sort and package items so they can be distributed.  Soup kitchens or other free meal services are usually in need of extra hands to prepare and serve food and clean up afterwards.

Make Time to Spend Together:

5.  My husband generally works everyday of the year.  Holidays included.  On the days he doesn't work or only works late in the evening, he generally is gone with friends or something.  I try to make sure that, even if its just one day, he spend an entire day with his family.  Maybe make a fire in the morning and spend the day talking, playing games, having specials snacks etc.  Usually a great family movie ends the evening.  And even though my husband usually gets caught sneaking time with his cell phone texting away or disappears for a while and is found in front of his computer, for the most part its family time!

Bake:

6.  Bake lots and lots of homemade treats.  I remember when I was little my mother would bake so many varieties of cookies and treats and then store them in tins and containers in the bottom of our china cabinet.  It was always such a treat to decide what type of cookie or baked good you would eat that evening!  So bake bake bake!  Get a set of recipes that you use yearly.  Your family will look forward to these seasonal treats.  You will also always be set for company--both the planned and the unexpected.


Host Gatherings For  Friends:

7.  A lot of emphasis is usually made at this time of year about spending time with family.  But don't forget to spend time with that group of friends you love being with.  Have a friends party night.  The easiest way to do this is have everyone bring something to contribute to a nice meal.  I did this recently and made a huge turkey and 2 spiral sliced hams.  I also made mashed potatoes and 2 cranberry dishes and herbed corn.  That was so much easier than the huge spreads I usually end up doing.  Friends brought sweet potato casserole, stuffing, green beans garden salad, rolls,  a few desserts and drinks.  We ended up with an abundance of food and I didn't have to spend days doing it.  We set it up buffet style and everyone sat where ever around the house...some at the dining room table, some with TV trays in the living or family room, and some of the children even ate in my son's room.  We even used disposable plates and cups!  This actually allowed me to enjoy my company for a change!

8.  Let your children host a party with their friends.  Just like you enjoy spending time with your friends, children do too.  Having a little party of friends over really lets children feel special and it can become a fun tradition all children involved will remember fondly when they are grown.  Smaller children might like a few simple crafts to keep them and their friends busy.  This will also keep things much calmer and more manageable than had you just let them come up with their own plan.  Children of all ages love a make your own pizza and sundaes them.  Preteen girls seem to like decorating sugar cookies a lot.

Consider How You Dress:


9.  I know some people are all about comfort and feel they can enjoy things more when they are comfortable.  To me, however, special times like this deserve special clothing.  Spending the holidays in a pretty dress, hair done and make up on makes things feel elegant and memorable.  Even my children are dress up in pretty dresses or suits.  To me special days should have special clothes!

Savor and Enjoy It!:

10.  Finally, don't get so caught up in everything that has to happen, needs to happen, has happened that you don't just sit back, relax and enjoy yourself.  Spend time everyday thinking over the blessings in your life.  Be thankful for all you have.  Watch your children and remember what it was like to be a child.  All of this will keep the smile on your face and the joy in your heart!


“I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Hasbro Ultimate Gifts blogging sweepstakes, making me eligible to get a $50 Gift card to use at www.HasbroToyShop.com! For more information on how you can participate, click here.

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