Monday, 7 December 2015

Spirit of Christmas

Whether your family is religious or not it can be easy for Christmas to be all about the gifts a child will receive with little thought of anything else. Here are some great ideas to keep a spirit of family and sharing during the festive season.

Make a Christmas wish

If your little one writes a Christmas list or letter to Santa it is a good idea to remind them that they are asking for things or giving suggestions, there is no guarantee that they will be given everything on the list. A child who believes that you always get precisely what you ask for can be devastated if the toy sells out or an aunt sends the wrong colour, or when they ask for something they can't have such as a pony. A little one who is prepared to get something different is more likely to be pleased with whatever they find, avoiding any tantrums on Christmas day and encouraging them to feel grateful rather than entitled.

One way to achieve this is to ask children to list more things than they will be given, for example a two or three year old might cut out pictures of three toys to stick to a letter for Santa. You would explain that Santa will only bring one big toy but he needs the child to give him some ideas, Santa might even think up something better!

I also avoid asking children what they will be getting for Christmas, instead I ask what they are hoping to get, if I feel the need to mention it at all. A subtle difference but an important one. Even better, ask what they are most looking forward to or what their favourite bit of Christmas is!

Thank you cards

Children can have so many gifts to open that it is easy to forget where they all came from. Making or writing thank you cards is a lovely way to remind a little one that lots of people care for them, as well as encouraging good manners. A toddler might only be able to do three or four cards themselves but a combination of a photograph of them playing with the toy and a crayon scribble should get the message across. A nice creative activity for rainy days between Christmas and new year when all the usual outings are closed and everyone is stuck at home.

Give things away

A large number of new toys might mean that storage space is getting tight so Christmas can be an ideal time for a clear out. Either before or after Christmas encourage your child to find two or three toys which they don't play with any more and which someone else might enjoy. These can be taken to a charity shop or given to a women's refuge. In the run up to Christmas some charities also collect shoe boxes full of gifts to be sent overseas, collecting together all the objects is a lovely way for your little one to really think about what another child might like.

Make gifts

Grandparents and other relatives might treasure a gift made by your little one. That shapeless but colourful salt dough candle holder will still be gracing the side board when they are at university! Choosing one craft and spending an afternoon making enough for grandparents, uncles and aunts can be a lovely opportunity to think about giving as well as receiving, and great fun as well.

One special thing

Christmas can be all about the children but it is as good idea to remember every member of the family and let your child know that everyone is important. A nice way to do this is to ask each family member to choose one thing they would like to do over Christmas. It could be watching a particular film, going for a walk, playing a game together or just having a favourite food. Make sure each of these things happens.

New traditions

Every family has traditions at Christmas and this is one thing that really binds you together, Christmas anywhere else is never the same! If this is your first Christmas as a family you might like to discuss which traditions each parent wants to continue from their own childhood and perhaps introduce some new ones. It doesn't matter what they are, from crack of dawn stocking opening to singing carols by candle light or drinking hot chocolate at bedtime, try to keep it simple so that it doesn't add to the stress, then relax and enjoy your unique and special day together.