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Five Ways to make the Holidays Meaningful

December 19th, 2011

With Christmas only a few days away I would like to share advice from one of my colleagues,  Malisa Rader,  Family Life Specialist and Let’s Talk…Child Care blogger.  Malisa says, “For many children the holidays mean just one thing – getting more things. Although presents are a part of the season, many parents are looking to turn down the commercialism while preserving significant holiday memories together as a family. It is important to make other parts of the holidays just as meaningful.”

What Parents Can Do

  1. Plan ahead. Have a family meeting before the holidays and decide what is important.
  2. Simplify your holiday. Focus on a few ideas and let the rest go. Say no to commitments that are not going to serve the greater good of your family.
  3. Plan for family time and mark it on the calendar — even if it is as simple as playing a board game.
  4. Make sure children have enough down time and that they are getting the naps they need. Also, watch their sugar intake.
  5. Teach giving. There are many things to do as a family that teach children the joy of giving, such as delivering a meal to shut-ins, caroling at a nursing home or making a treat for a neighbor.

Choose Appropriate Gifts for Children

The best advice for selecting a present for a young child was to choose something that is 10 percent toy and 90 percent child. The more a toy requires creativity, the better it is. Classic toys such as dolls, blocks, construction sets, dress-up clothes and art supplies have this characteristic and will stand the test of time, while appealing to children at more than one age or level of development. For example, rather than a robot that runs on batteries and performs specific functions, consider buying a set of connecting gears that would allow a child to build his or her own robot, or house or hundreds of other things.

Understanding Children – Toys, an Iowa State University Extension and Outreach publication provides a guide for choosing toys for different ages.

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  1. | #1

    G’Day! Blogs,
    On a similar note,, Holidays can be crazy times. The weeks leading up to it can be a frenzy of additional things to do on top of already busy schedules. Yet, no matter what holidays you celebrate this time of year, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, or simply celebrating the turning of the year, the whole point is for it to be meaningful. The real reason for the season is deep meaning and connection with yourself and others.
    Good Job!

  2. | #2

    As parents it’s important that we shape the meaning of the holidays for our kids. Otherwise they’ll get caught up in the rush and the holidays will shape them. They’ll learn from our example, and we need to make sure we’re spending enough time with them to allow our example to be noticed. Great article.

  3. | #3

    The types (and quantities) of toys we get for our kids is a meaningful way to show them the importance (or lack thereof) of presents. Let them experience the feeling of giving to those in need, so they can get the idea that the holidays are for giving, and not for getting.

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