By Jennifer Waddle, Crosswalk.com
I’m afraid I’ve become a bit hum-bug-ish lately. Not because I don’t like the holidays, but because I feel like it’s a lot of work to make things merry and bright. However, I’ve been reminiscing about some of my childhood memories - including stockings filled with Pez candy and Lifesaver books, and I have to admit, it’s bringing back some of the holiday cheer.
What about you? Do you feel like you’re in a rut this year? Why not add a few new touches to your holiday celebrations? If you’re not big on creativity, don’t worry - I’ve got you covered. Here are seven ways to bring back childhood fun during the holidays.
1. Be Whimsical
Most kids I know love to be whimsical. They don’t care if all the ornaments hang exactly two inches apart or congregate at the bottom. They aren’t concerned with perfectly wrapped gifts as long as they have a colorful bow on top (even if it’s squished). Children are the best at adding whimsical flairs to otherwise boring holiday festivities.
The good thing is there are many low-cost ways to spruce up your space with bright, whimsical elements and bring some childhood fun into the mix. Here are a few ideas:
- Make paper chains from sparkly wrapping paper and hang them in every archway.
- Put up a Charlie Brown Christmas tree with Snoopy and Woodstock stuffies underneath.
- Use matchbox cars and trucks to create a holiday scene with tiny trees, bridges, and fake snow.
- Add some pizazz with non-traditional colors such as hot pink, lime green, and deep purple.
Be as creative as you can with what you have. Instead of putting things where you usually put them, change it up! Decorate the Christmas tree downstairs instead of up. Hang three wreaths on the front door to create a snowman. String blinking lights around all the bedroom doors. The more whimsical, the better!
2. Take a Winter Wonderland Stroll
Whether you live in a cold climate or warm, gather the family for a winter wonderland stroll through your neighborhood. Choose a nice evening to bundle up (or add a holiday scarf to your shorts and sandals) and take a leisurely walk around the block. Look at the lights, point out how many Christmas trees you spot, and make it a fun evening for the whole family.
Take this time to spark conversations about holidays past and ask everyone to highlight their favorite memories. Consider delivering homemade treats to your neighbors, and be sure to include the recipe so they know what ingredients were used. If available, collect pinecones, twigs, and other natural elements. And when you get home, sip hot chocolate under fuzzy blankets to end your festive evening. Imagine your children’s surprise when you announce you’re taking a winter wonderland stroll instead of lounging indoors. This will be one childhood memory they won’t soon forget!
3. Fill Stockings for the Homeless
When my kids were little, we used to put together John 3:16 bags for the homeless. They were gallon-sized bags that contained a water bottle, snacks, a scarf, and a small Bible. We wrote friendly notes that included the Scripture verse, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
This same idea can easily be used for the holidays by filling stockings instead of Ziplocs. Drive around your city and deliver the goodies as a family. Or, if you prefer, choose a family in your neighborhood and fill stockings for each of them. Your kids will long remember the joy on each person’s face as they open their holiday surprise.
Here is a helpful post with even more Christmas ideas for the homeless.
4. Go Sledding
You might have fond memories of sledding as a kid but haven’t picked up a sled in decades. Are you brave enough to give it a try this year?
Do a Google search for the best and most available sledding hills in town and choose an afternoon to have some fun. No sleds? No problem! Inexpensive plastic snow discs are available at most big-name retailers, and some of the fancier sleds can be found at your local sporting goods store.
Be sure to practice safety by wearing a helmet, goggles, and plenty of padding. Don’t forget to assign one family member to catch it all on video, and most of all, have fun!
5. Dress Up Again
It used to be the Sears catalog would show up in the mail featuring all the pretty holiday dresses and button-up shirts and ties. What fun it was to look through that catalog – especially the toy section!
While many churches have gone to casual dress over the years, why not bring back a bit of childhood tradition and dress in your Sunday best? Whether for the Christmas Eve service or a holiday production, polish the dress shoes for at least one special occasion.
If you haven’t dressed up in a while, thrift stores are a great place to find festive clothing at a fraction of the price. It doesn’t have to be fancy at all, but it can be a lot of fun for your girls to twirl around in their holiday dresses and your boys to learn how to tie a tie.
6. Make Food Festive
For a few weeks now, I’ve been saving photos of charcuterie boards that are shaped like Christmas trees. My family will probably laugh (or gag) at how much meat and cheese platters I put out this year!
Making festive foods for the holidays is a fun and easy way to cultivate childhood joy. Let your kids pick a dish or dessert they’d like to make, then carve out a morning to create some tasty treats together. Some easy ideas are:
Remember to add festive decorations to food platters, such as mini ornaments, holiday figurines, sprigs of holly, and edible glitter. (Can’t forget edible glitter!) This is one affordable way to spruce up your holiday celebration and make it extra fun (and yummy) for everyone.
7. Focus on the Nativity
As a child, my parents always made the holidays fun. My dad, in particular, had the enthusiasm of a kid when it came to decorating, celebrating, and enjoying the season. You’ll still hear him whistling as he sets up his lighted nativity in the front yard. After all, it’s the most important display of all!
This year, let’s bring back the wonder of the nativity and remember Jesus as the reason we celebrate. Here are several ideas:
-Shop thrift stores and antique markets for one-of-a-kind nativity sets.
-Make a hands-on nativity for your preschoolers out of toilet paper tubes, styrofoam balls, and felt (still my family’s favorite!).
-Place the nativity scene under the Christmas tree, front and center, like these traditions.
-Read the story of Jesus’ birth from Luke chapter two and have your kids act it out.
-Discuss one name of Jesus every day until Christmas (Emmanuel, Messiah, King of Kings, etc.).
-Keep a “Thank You, Jesus” list on the fridge and encourage everyone to write why they are thankful Jesus was born.
-Have a birthday party for Jesus with a cake, streamers, and gifts.
You don’t have to be a humbug this year. You can bring back some childhood fun and make new memories with your family and friends. No matter how small your efforts, your loved ones will be happy to see the smile on your face and the joy in your heart this holiday season.