We all know how easily the holidays can sneak up on us and how quickly this time of year can become stressful instead of serene. During this year of pandemic, we are all feeling a whole new level of stress. Many families are struggling with how to minimize stress and maximize making it special for the children. I’d like to recommend 6 ways to help your family’s holiday go from frazzled to festive and fun with special attention to the limitations this year’s pandemic may be placing on your plans.
8 Ways to Help Your Family’s Holiday Go From Frazzled to Festive & Fun
- Don’t overcompensate. It can be tempting during this time of pandemic when travel is limited and party gatherings are ill advised to over-do the efforts to make the holidays special. This is only going to cause stress for parents and for the kids. Keep it simple. Children do not need over-the-top everything that shines and sparkles to have a fun holiday season.
- Cookie baking & decorating from a distance. Organize one afternoon with Grandma, Aunt Jenny and Cousin Sam over Zoom to bake and decorate cookies. Send out cookie-baking-decorating kits to your distant family members and set the date and time. Share in the process of mixing the dough, enjoying the aroma when they are in the oven and then have a show-n-tell of everyone’s decorated cookies.
- Establish a daily holiday routine. We all learned during last spring’s quarantine how things can go haywire when there is no set schedule. Keep a rhythm for your family’s mealtimes and bedtime.
- Create special but simple rituals. Anchor mealtimes with the lighting of a candle. Each evening before bed, cuddle up on the couch together and watch a holiday special with hot cocoa. Create simple ornaments for the tree together out of household items – get creative!
- Allow children to create special holiday door decorations for their bedroom doors. They might want to make their door look like a giant wrapped holiday gift or maybe they will want to use the door for a pin-up-collage of holiday drawings and décor. This will add cheer to the bedtime routine as well.
- Gather holiday children’s books in a basket and enjoy reading together. It’s always a good idea for parents and children to share in special story time for fun and special connecting. Having favorite holiday books in a special holiday basket beside the family room couch that can be carried to bed at night is a good way to ensure your holiday reading and snuggle time is a daily activity.
- Winter sensory scavenger hunts. Grab some index cards and a marker and create some sensory clue-cards that say: something that crunches, something that sparkles, something that jingles, something that rattles, something that shines, something that is smooth, something that is prickly, something that smells yummy, something that tastes sweet. Toss the cards in a holiday box or basket and have everyone take a turn pulling a card and let the whole family race to go and find something and return to home-base to share what they found.
- Go curb-caroling. Take the family for a caroling stroll along the curb of your neighborhood. You might want to rehearse just a bit on the songs you will sing but keep it simple and fun. Jingle Bells, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman are some good simple songs to start with. Take along some battery-operated candles and put on some Santa hats. Take the family dog along if you like and enjoy the fresh air while serenading your neighbors from a safe social distance.
There are so many ways to make this holiday season both simple and special and take the stress level down from frazzled to fun. Making lasting memories need not be complicated. All you need is a little planning, some inspiration, a bit of creativity and a focus on simple connecting activities that will bring the family together during this holiday season.
If your family is experiencing high levels of stress or just having a tough time getting along sometimes working with a professional who specializes in helping children and families can be helpful. Please feel free to contact us today so we can discuss how play therapy or family support services may be just the ticket to getting some relief.