The holidays are upon us and it’s my favorite time of year! Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Christmas, it’s a time to spend time with loved ones and make wonderful memories! My family and I choose to celebrate Christmas, however, I do try to expose my children to ways that others may choose to celebrate the holidays in the United States and around the world. During the holidays, especially for Christmas, many people go into so much debt, purchasing gifts for their loved ones, specifically their children. While most of us strive to let our children have the “best” holiday, you don’t have to go into debt to do so. While children enjoy receiving lots of gifts, they also enjoy spending time with their loved ones. They love having those happy, long-lasting memories.

Dr. Anthony Witham said, “Children spell love…TIME.” There are lots of ways to make wonderful and special memories with your children. Every year, during the month of December, my children and I do a daily countdown and activity until Christmas. Each day, we open the number on a wooden tree (advent calendar) that corresponds with the date, where I have an activity for us to do. Some of the activities are small, such as take a picture of ourselves in Santa hats, color a picture together, drink hot chocolate, watch a Christmas themed movie, etc. Some of the activities are bigger, such as going out to lunch or dinner, going to Six Flags Over Georgia’s Holiday in the Park, etc. Some of the activities are about giving and learning, such as donating items to a shelter or similar place, shopping for gifts for people in need, going to the library to get books about how other people around the world celebrate the holidays this time of year, etc. I also change the activities to accommodate our schedule and location, if needed. Since they do not know the activity for the day, until we open the calendar to find the strip of paper in which the activity is typed on, I can always switch the activity to accommodate my schedule or mood for the day, prior to them opening it J There’s no need to make this a stressful or burdensome task or become overwhelmed! In addition to doing the countdown activities, we also read a page from the Countdown to Christmas book, that I purchased. While lots of these activities are geared more towards Christmas, there isn’t any reason why someone couldn’t adjust it, to accommodate the way they celebrate the holidays or their beliefs. Every year, when people hear about this, I get people asking me for the information. So, I thought I’d share it here, in case anyone is interested. Enjoy making memories with your children and Happy Holidays!

Here’s our list:

Decorate your tree

Go to the Lights of Life as a family (this is a holiday tradition for some of us in the Atlanta area)

Ride the Pink Pig (this is a holiday tradition for some of us in the Atlanta area)

Shop for gifts for children who are less fortunate

Unwrap a book to read

Have hot chocolate and cookies

Open your special ornament and put it on your tree

Make a craft with Mom

Have a family Christmas movie night with treats

Choose a special treat

Shop for a gift for your teachers

Have family night

Watch The Polar Express

Have lunch at a special restaurant with our family

Wear new pajamas to bed

Invite friends over for a fun activity

Decorate cookies

Read the story about the birth of Jesus

Make paper snowflakes

Drink hot chocolate from our Christmas mugs

Bake cookies

Call Nana or Grandma or Grandpa and sing Jingle Bells

Go for a drive to look at holiday lights

Take a picture in our Santa hats (the sillier, the better!)

Color a picture using only red and green crayons

Watch A Charlie Brown Christmas

Make Christmas cards and take them to a nursing/retirement home

Donate gently used clothes, toys, and books to a shelter

Perform a random act of kindness

Make a list of love and appreciation for each family member

Mail handwritten notes or Christmas cards

Family movie night

Decorate a space in your home

Attend a holiday-themed play or event

Do something around the house to make life easier for a family member

Find cultural/religious events in your area that are open to the public, and attend one or more as a family

Make a list of special dates and celebrate at least one tradition from another culture on the appropriate day

Check out books from the library on how children around the world celebrate winter holidays

Have a game night and listen to music from other cultures/religions

Listen to Parang (I’m Trinidadian and Parang music is a common type of music that we listen to around the holidays)

Do a craft project that represents another culture’s holiday tradition

Bake a special treat from another culture

Play a traditional game from another culture

Plan a party about another culture

Read stories and listen to (and sing!) traditional Christmas carols

Have a candlelight dinner

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Go to the movies

Shop for a gift for dad

Go to a Christmas parade

Watch It’s A Wonderful Life

Watch The Sound of Music

Watch Arthur Christmas

Shop for a Christmas ornament for your tree

Watch Miracle on 34th Street

Watch A Christmas Story

Do volunteer work

Go to the pool

Go to the beach

Watch Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town

Watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Go to Six Flags Holiday In The Park

Watch Home Alone

Go to The Children’s Museum of Atlanta

Have a snowball fight with fake snowballs

Dance Party to Christmas music

Dance Party to Soca and/or Calypso

Dance Party to Nigerian music

Go to The Battery Atlanta for Christmas activities

Activity with Dad

Activity with Mom

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