The holidays are always a fun time of year where there are tons of holiday activities, family gatherings, and gift exchanges. The air is crisp, the beautiful lights are everywhere, and feel good holiday movies are on every channel you click to on T.V. You really do get a sense of nostalgia during this time of year that brings back the magic of your childhood, especially when you have kids of your own. However, there is always another side.
The holiday season also comes with frustration, confusion, and debt! Let’s be real, the bigger your circle is, the more difficult it can be to see everyone, and you don’t want to spread yourself too thin when it comes to spending time, buying gifts and supporting the ones you love. Throw some kids in the mix and you have more gifts, more events, more people who want to see you and the kids so they too can experience the magic that comes with kids during this time of year.
Now that I have pointed out the somewhat obvious, let me share with you some of the things we do as a family that may be helpful in combating the holiday anxieties and even just provide you with some fun activity ideas for the holidays!
Let’s get the boring stuff out of the way. It is boring, but it is also something that I personally stress over, and I assume many other dads (and moms) stress about during the holidays; spending money.
I have found that creating a budget and sticking to it is important. Santa Claus might not have a budget, but he has helpers make his gifts. Me on the other hand, I’m much less crafty so I have to buy them.
The dreaded question that even I myself have had to search is, how much do you spend per child for Christmas (or whatever Holiday you celebrate)? Clearly the range seems to vary from person to person, but it really comes down to your personal financial state and what you can afford. Maybe $100 per kid is doable for you, and you can get creative with tons of smaller items so they have a lot to open (this tends to work best for younger kids I’ve noticed). Or you can buy one larger item that you know they really wanted. Some parents may have more means to spend a bit more per child, and that’s great too! I always find it important that no matter what I spend per kid during Christmas, I make sure (even when they are very young!) to remind them that they should be grateful that Santa was able to give them gifts. As they get older, I plan to remind them that not all kids are as fortunate.
I have found that spending on my kids are generally the biggest budget, but it is important to also budget out gifts for people in your life who you generally do gift exchanges with. This keeps you from getting into hot water later on when the credit card companies come knocking, and your bill isn’t too shabby because you stuck to a budget.
On to the fun stuff! Holiday activities are a great way for the kids to have fun and experience the joys that come with this time of year. I feel like we are constantly doing some activity which can be tiring, but when I see the look of joy on my kids faces, it’s all worth it. A few things we have done that I am sure they have something similar to around your local area are:
- Tree Lightings in town
- We have gone to 3 of them in our town as well as the neighboring towns. The kids enjoy the lights, the music, and seeing some other kids their age out and about.
- Town festivals
- Our town does a festival in the park after the tree lighting that has huge bounce houses, meeting Santa, “sleigh rides”, a mini market to buy things, and performances on the stage outside. It is something special our town does, but I am sure if you look at a town near you, they have something similar.
- Light Shows
- We have gone to light shows at local venues and theme parks. We have done the ones you can drive through, but they do have cool walk through shows as well. The kids love to see their favorite characters in light form, as well as all theatrics that go along with it.
- My kids personally enjoy helping me and my wife bake, and sharing some of the recipes for our favorite holiday cookies and baked goods with them has been a blast! They love using the cookie cutters, mixing the bowls, and decorating the finished products. We also went to a local bakery and picked up a “decorate your own” gingerbread man, which came with different decorations and frosting.
These are the cookie cutters we used to make fun shaped cookies. Check them out!
- Santa and Mrs. Claus book readings
- We went to the association we belong to and they put on a great event where Santa and Mrs. Claus read a book to the kids. It was something about seeing the man himself tell the stories to the kids that made the looks on their faces unforgettable.
I am sure there are other great activities going on in your local area so it’s best to check your town’s website or look up different things going on in neighboring areas.
- Balancing seeing your loved ones
Seeing everyone during the holidays especially when you have a big family is tough. Then having friends on top of it can make you feel like your time is being split so much that the quality time isn’t there. I know before and after we had our daughter we went to 2-3 houses for Christmas Eve and then a minimum of 3 houses on Christmas Day. We pop in for gift exchanges, a quick bite to eat, and then rush back to the car for the next gathering. I have found that the following things help maximize the quality time spent with friends and family:
- Don’t be afraid to celebrate days before and even after Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Who’s to say you can’t have the magic of Christmas on the other days nearby!
- Have them come to you! Be the host, even a simple brunch allows you to invite who you want and can kill multiple birds with one stone.
- Don’t be afraid to say no to things. Just because you’re invited doesn’t mean you always have to go.
- Do call and or text friends and family to let them know that you are thinking of them and wishing them well during the holidays even if you are not getting together with them.
- Zoom calls/ Facetime/ or whatever other video or media outlet you like to use- for those who want to social distance safely and or cannot meet you in person this year.
These are all of the things we have been doing to make our holidays even more special, and I hope that you are able to utilize some of these ideas for your own holiday season. My family and I wish you a happy holiday season and a healthy and happy New Year!
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