The holiday season is special for everyone, but for kids it’s especially magical. For little ones, the world is still relatively new, and they haven’t counted out the existence of Santa Claus as a legitimate possibility.
As a parent, you want your kids to experience the joy of the holiday season in the same way that you did when you were a child. There’s nothing more rewarding than watching your child revel in the holiday spirit that you helped create. While building a festive environment, parents often find that they too rediscover some of the magic that’s faded over time, and that it’s possible to relive the excitement of Christmas morning through the eyes of your child. Read on for some tried-and-true strategies for getting your little one to have the best holiday season ever.
Think Like A Child
Think back to when you were a kid. What aspects of the holiday season were most exciting to you? Were there any special things that your parents or guardians did to make the days seem filled with magic? What visual details do you remember? Were there certain things that you ate, created, or did that made the time so memorable? Often, we can tap into our own experiences and transfer the best of them over to our traditions with our children.
When you reflect on what it was like to experience the holidays as a kid, that helpful mental exercise can help you unlock some of the holiday spirit for yourself, too. Creating a festive atmosphere for your kid takes more than just decorating your home and organising activities—they look up to you in every way, and if they see that you’re enjoying yourself, they will take that as a cue that they can enjoy too.
Deck The Halls
What’s the holiday season without a little decoration? If your home looks like it does during every other month of the year, there will be no visual stimuli that your kid can latch onto and use to build associations with the season.
Decorating the home with kids in mind can be extremely fun. Think about things that can increase your child’s sensory experiences beyond simply hanging a wreath on the door. Ask your child to help you pick out some scented candles that will fill your house with a holiday aroma. Break out holiday lights and decorate the outside and inside of your home. Visual memory is incredibly important, but our other senses are able to produce equally strong emotional reactions, and you should consider how to maximise all of them in order to immerse your child in the holiday spirit.
Let Kids Take Centre Stage
When guests come over, or when you’re opening presents, make your kids the centre of attention. If they’re just standing on the sidelines, experiencing the holidays as a bystander, they may enjoy the season but never feel fully immersed.
If they’ve been taking lessons with an instrument, encourage them to play a song for your guests. When everyone’s dressed up for a Christmas party, be festive and let your little one pick out a hilarious kids ugly Christmas sweater. If it’s Christmas morning, let them open a present first, and express genuine excitement for them when they take off the wrapping.
If you play games like Secret Santa, have your child pass gifts around to people, and be directly involved in the activities. This way, they feel like they can take ownership for at least a portion of the holiday cheer, and will be more thrilled as a result.
Take Advantage Of Activities
Try building gingerbread houses with your child. They will not only be engaged creatively, but they’ll have something tangible to associate with the holiday season. Another great activity is stocking decoration—get the materials together and let them customise their own stocking. When Christmas morning arrives, they’ll find it stuffed to the brim and know that Santa directly touched something they made.
Leave Clues That Santa Visited
If your family celebrates Christmas, make sure that it’s clear that Santa came to visit. The night before, bake some cookies with your little one and leave them on a tray (with some milk!) for Santa when he stops during his travels. After your kid is asleep, or early in the morning before he or she wakes up, take a few bites of the cookie. Watch your kid’s face light up in the morning, put on some good holiday music, and start digging through the stocking.