The weather outside may be frightful, but your holidays don’t have to be. Even if you’re celebrating on a budget, you and your family can enjoy plenty of Christmas fun and memory-making.
Try these 4 ways to bring on the joy without breaking the bank.
Tip #1: Give the Gift of an Experience
According to this article, kids in particular get a boost out of sharing experiences with their family and friends. Be it as simple as a lunch date (think: handmade “gift certificate” for your child’s favorite fast food place) or as huge as a big-time trip, a child's memory of an experience lasts a good, long time. Here are some holiday experiences to consider—
- Go spectacular at Hollidazzle in downtown Minneapolis. Collect a bunch of friends and their kids to share gas money for the ride. Events are free and open to the public. Check out their schedule here.
- Go ice skating. Even if you’re not Olympic figure-skating material, this is a great way to generate some grins. At our local Redwood Falls Civic Center Arena, adults get in for $5, kids under 5 are free, and skate rental is $3 a pair.
- Host a movie night. Invite some people you enjoy over to watch a holiday movie night. If everyone brings a different snack, the cost—and the fun—lightens everybody’s load.
- See the lights. Look for where the holiday lights are shining downtown or in your neighborhood. Bundle up and take a stroll, and let the snowflakes fall. It’s winter! Enjoy it!
Tip #2: Go Homemade
When we know someone put their own time into creating a gift for us, that gift takes on a whole layer of significance. And when your kids are old enough to help, they get to be in on gift-giving, too. It’s never too early to teach children how to be kind and considerate. Try these ideas—
- Bake cookies. This is the time of year all the ingredients are marked down. Grab what you need for your favorite recipe—or one you’d like to try—and get cooking!
- Start a tablecloth to remember. Check out this family’s idea for a table covering everyone signs, year after year. It grows more precious with time.
- Make hand-print wrapping paper. Cut open paper grocery sacks and remove the bottoms. Paint your children’s hands with green or red paint and press those little handprints onto the paper. Once it dries, anything you wrap up in it will feel extra-special! (Another variation is to stamp shapes with cookie cutters or potato stamps.)
- Give warmth to others. Try your hand these simple handwarmers or mittens made from old sweaters.
Tip #3: Perform Random Acts of Kindness with Your Children
Giving your children the gift of thoughtfulness training earns them a warmer welcome into the adult world later. Extra bonus: brightening someone’s day often makes things brighter around you, too.
- Make a point of thanking people. The checker at the grocery store, your postal carrier, your landlord—anyone who has provided you a service—deserves a “thank you” and a smiling holiday greeting. If you can top it with a candy cane handed out by your child, even better!
- Watch out for people who need extra help. Offer to help an older person across an icy parking lot. Carry groceries for a neighbor. Be nicer than you feel like being; you never know when someone is having a hard day. (And it helps you forget your day had some rough spots, too.)
- Leave Secret Santa notes. Place a note where a neighbor, teacher, or co-worker will find it, telling them something you appreciate about them. Sign it from Santa, and keep ‘em guessing who sent it.
- Put it on your calendar. Use the ideas on this calendar to inspire you all month long!
Tip #4: Do What Delights You
Make this a holiday you will enjoy. You’re a parent; that’s a full-time job. So don’t add extra stress by taking on expectations that aren’t realistic for you. Read our post on how to have holidays that make you happy. Consider these thoughts—
- Simplify. Pare down anything that doesn’t fit your style, your schedule, your family, or your budget. Respect your personal limits, and those of your children. Sometimes less really is more. (Especially when it comes to gifts.)
- Honor your values. Hang out with people who keep you moving toward the health and goodness you desire. If faith is important to you, attend services with your local faith family. Engage in those behaviors and activities that will leave you smiling long after the holidays are done.
- Choose uplifting companions. Spend the holidays enjoying people who bring you joy, and do the same for them. Your children will be happier around people who are good for them: people who treasure them and make them feel special.
- Get yourself a pep talk. Be sure to check in with those who believe in you. Is it your coach at Choices Pregnancy Center? Your BFF? A family member? Seek them out, have a heart-to-heart chat, and accept their gifts of confidence and hope for a new year. We all need that!
This holiday season, enjoy the beauty of winter and the wonder of your child. These days will pass so quickly. Savor the memories you’re making today; they will be the sparkle in your eyes tomorrow.
The Christmas holiday season is about joy and peace.
Here at Choices Pregnancy Center, those are the things we wish for you.
Please let us give you some of that joy and peace in person.
We’d love to provide one-on-one mentoring for you as you parent,
and give you some needed supplies from our Baby Buck Boutique.
All at no cost to you.
So come on by and let us make your holidays happier.
Until we see you, Merry Christmas!