Christmas is just around the corner. While we ate our turkey leftovers this weekend, we started our Holiday Bucket List. Every year our family makes a list of the things we all want to do to celebrate the season. If it doesn’t make the list, it isn’t a priority for that year. It’s an idea that started at the theme parks. We can’t ride every ride every trip, so each visit each child picks a ride or attraction. Anything we do beyond those three activities is a bonus. The same goes for our holiday planning. There are a few traditions that are automatically required, but the rest is flexible. Having simple expectations is one way we stay relaxed during the holidays. Here are a few other ways to help your family make memories this season.
Make a bucket list
As a family, decide what activities are important to everyone. Nothing drains the holiday cheer like dragging everyone to an activity no one wants to do, just for the sake of tradition. As kids grow older, different activities are appealing and possible and other activities are outgrown. This year, our family plans to go to some parks that have walking trails with lights. We will need to bundle up and plan around the weather when we go. When they were younger, I would avoid an outdoor celebration because I didn’t want to listen to the whining.
A bonus for homeschooling this makes a great brainstorming session to teach the kids to think creatively and work together! You can download a Holiday bucket list page here to use to collect your ideas and check off during the season.
Give Kids Ownership
After you make your bucket list and see what is important to each member of the family you can think about dividing up some of the tasks as their ages allow. Our oldest is most excited about decorating the tree. So after the adults set it up and get the lights on, she is the one to decorate it. Letting it be her project also reduces the load on Mom. It lets me do the decorating I enjoy and the grown-up only tasks like wrapping presents.
Share the Load
Working together in the kitchen is also a great time to share the family stories as you teach them the family recipes. When we made our Holiday Bucket List over half of the items we listed have to do with tastes and smells!
Even larger tasks like cooking the traditional meals can be divided to include everyone. Since the boys have been building their kitchen skills this year, we assigned everyone a dish for Thanksgiving. Some dishes were made in advance and different cooks had various levels of help. Everyone could enjoy the meal with pride as everyone tasted what they had made. The youngest made a garden salad by himself (with help chopping the carrots). The resident baker made the Apple Pie while the 10 year old followed the directions on the box to make the stuffing. Mom made the turkey and Dad made his favorite Deviled Eggs.
Find Ways to Serve Others
The last way I want to share to make memories this Christmas season is to find a way as a family to serve others. There are many opportunities this time of year to do things for other people. Make sure at least one item on your Holiday bucket list is for someone outside of your family. In the past our family has picked names off of Angel Trees and purchased gifts for other children. We liked choosing children similar to our own kids so they could pick out the gifts. We have had Shoebox packing parties for Operation Christmas Child. Everyone brings a set number of the same item and then we add them to each box and end up filling several boxes together. This year as everyone is older we are making more handmade gifts as a way to serve others, including fleece scarves we will be donating.
We have a family fudge recipe that we make to give away. The recipe makes 5 pounds so we have to give it away or face the consequences. Each year, we reflect on who the people are have impacted our lives that year, to make our list of fudge recipients. Some years it has been full of therapists and doctors and other years neighbors and coworkers. This year we were thinking of mailing fudge for the first time to spread some joy to far away friends. Who can you serve this holiday season?