With TEN (yes, TEN) days left before Christmas I am posting ten tips for making the Ultimate Holiday Season For You and Your Family!
1. Have Traditions
It's all about traditions for the holidays. As a kid we had a family tradition of putting up our Christmas tree and the Christmas Countdown Calendar the day after Thanksgiving. We have kept this tradition alive with my family. Our oldest loves knowing that the tree, Christmas Countdown Calendar and decorations will go up after Thanksgiving. It definitely gets us in the holiday spirit and my son looks forward to changing the countdown every morning after breakfast. Keep at least (1) family tradition alive to pass on to your family and remember to create your own.
2. Get in the Kitchen
The holidays are a great time to get your family in the kitchen. My oldest son and I bake homemade cookies, fudge and bark every year. We package them in cellophane bags and make handmade tags. We pass them out to his favorite teachers/staff and to neighbors.
** You could also drop off some homemade goodies to your fire station, police dept., nursing home staff, the options are endless. It's a great way to give back and your child will be so proud to give.
3.Christmas Light Searching
There are tons of neighborhoods in our area that go above and beyond decorating for the holidays. My family and I love to do this during Christmas break. I pack a brown bag for each of us with a special snack (usually popcorn) and a cup of hot cocoa. We take a drive after dinner and go searching for Christmas Light. Its great family time and we enjoy watching the kids faces...priceless
4. Spirit of Giving
Teach your children that it is better to give than to receive. Picking an Angel tree recipient is a great way for your child to give back. Wal Mart has an Angel Tree program and I know there are plenty other organizations that participate in Angel Trees. I have my son choose a recipient off the tree, he usually chooses a child about his age. I have my son decide on an amount (from his saved allowance) that he would like to use on his Angel Tree Recipient, I then price match him. This is his budget for his recipient. He really enjoys picking out special gifts for someone who otherwise would go without. I was very proud of my son this year, he chose to give $25 of his own money to another child, I gave him another $25. He had a great learning experience of stretching his dollars, making good choices and seeing how fast $50 can go was a definite eye opener for him.
This is by far my favorite activity of the holidays. Shopping on a budget is a little more difficult for me, but that is the fun part. My best advice is have a plan. Have a list of who you are shopping for, if you already know what it is you are getting certain people. Make sure you do your homework. Start by searching for the best prices in newspaper ads and online. Shopping at places like Amazon get you some of the best prices anywhere (also you can get FREE 2 day shipping signing up for Amazon Prime's 2 month trial). I also love Ebates you get cash back for shopping through them at your favorite stores online (you get an added $5 for making your 1st purchase on ebates). Other places to get awesome gifts at discounted prices are Groupon, Eversave and Restaurants.com.
Take plenty of pictures of all your holiday festivities. From baking too trimming the tree, it will remind you of how special family time can be. Take at least (1) group photo of your entire family we always include our dog, just set the self timer. I keep a point and shoot camera in my diaper bag for any quick snaps. Making a flip book after the holidays makes a great keepsake.
7. Email or Write to Santa
There are many online programs that are free and let you send an email to Santa, you also get a reply. If you prefer to have your child send a letter to him you can get a letter back for a small amount, my favorite northpolar.com. A few years ago when my cousins were small enough to really believe my aunt would send a postcard to each of them from Santa letting them know he was watching.
8. Wish List
Have your child write a wish list of items they would love to get from Santa. I have them do one after Thanksgiving and then another updated list a week before Christmas. With all the commercials, ads and shopping we do my children sometimes find other things they would rather have or that get added to the list.
9. Beware of the Grinch
I never wrap presents until at least the 23rd of December. All gifts stay in bags with receipts hidden in huge tubs in the garage. For one my oldest is sneaky and would find them in the house. If they were wrapped my youngest would tear them apart. And last I am paranoid of the GRINCH. Even though we have not had any break-ins or issues in our neighborhood. I also never leave bags in plain sight in my vehicle. Everything goes in the trunk and I park in the best open, well lit areas only. Crime around the holidays is higher than normal. I take every precaution to have the best holiday season ever. I would not want a Grinch to come ruin what my husband and I work hard for.
10. Toys Toys Toys for Everyone
What would Christmas be like without toys. The place to visit is Hasbro Ultimate Gifts line. The site gives you fool proof toy buying for everyone on your list. Shopping by age & gender makes finding the perfect gift quick with a few clicks. There is even play link where you can play games online FREE.
“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.”