“I wish I could freeze time or go back in time and watch my kids grow up all over again, because it is just going by too fast.” – Robert Rodriguez
As a child it felt like I waited eons for Christmas to finally arrive, but as a grown adult the whole experience flies past me in a blur. After rushing from one holiday program or party to another, I can’t believe that Christmas is only a week away!
How can we make the Christmas season slow down long enough for us to soak it all in, to make lasting memories with our families, to really enjoy it?
Here are 5 simple ideas…
1.) Use Your Elf on the Shelf to Create Teachable Moments
My kids begged for an elf on the shelf, and every Thanksgiving they proudly hand the elf over. I usually groan to myself, because this means that I won’t be able to go to bed until I’ve done something amazing with that mischievous elf for the next 30 days!
But this year I realized that I could use the family elf to teach valuable lessons to my kids. So instead of simply wreaking havoc around the household, this year our elf has earned money by doing chores in order to buy gifts for our family stuffed animals, and has given written apologies to those she has harmed in the past. The kids love seeing what the elf will do next… why not use that magical moment to teach them something important?
2.) Cut Your Own Christmas Tree
We live in the mountains and can hike for hours through the fresh pines, looking for the perfect tree to cut. But even when we lived in the city there were Christmas Tree farms around our house that allowed us to do something similar. The tree may not look perfect, but it will mean so much more to the whole family.
3.) “Spice Up” Your Holiday Drinks
There’s nothing like sitting by the fireplace with a perfect Christmas drink in hand to create a cozy feeling. You can take regular coffee or hot chocolate and spice it up with a few simple tricks.
– First, try crushing peppermint candies or candy canes with a rolling pin. Add a tablespoon of peppermint dust to any cafe mocha or hot cocoa, then top with whipped cream and the remaining peppermint dust for a truly magical drink!
– While you have the whipped cream on hand, try adding it to your holiday drinks with a touch of cinnamon, cocoa powder, or nutmeg on top. It’s so easy, but it adds a touch of elegance to any of “run-of-the-mill” holiday drink!
4.) Use the Coffee Table as a Permanent Game Table
Every family enjoys a good game or two, but why not allow the coffee table to become a permanent game table? Over our Thanksgiving Break our family put together a 500 piece puzzle on our coffee table, which meant that anyone could stop and work on it together at any given time. It prevented the kids from getting bored, and gave everyone a reason to sit and talk together. The same could work with a Monopoly or Scrabble game. Don’t worry about getting everything picked up within the hour… it’s Christmas! Let the good times roll!
5.) Let the Kids Work for their Christmas Gifts
No, I’m not a Grinch or a Scrooge – honest! But our children weren’t understanding the true joy of giving someone a gift, because they were used to either throwing an old unwanted toy in a bag or having us buy their gifts for them. This year we’ve had them doing chores in the yard for several weeks, earning money to buy gifts for the family. This has kept them busy and out in the fresh air for hours at a time, but more importantly, they’re beginning to understand that it takes hard work to be able to give someone a good gift, and they’re starting to appreciate their own gifts much more. Working for your gifts makes the shopping, wrapping, and gift-giving experience so much more meaningful for everyone involved. They are sure to complain at first, but in the end they’ll have a gift exchange that they’ll remember for a lifetime!
The Christmas season comes and goes so fast. I hope these simple ideas help you hold on to the moment long enough for you and your family to really take in all the beauty.
Merry Christmas, Everyone!