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Published on December 07, 2021

family decorating christmas cookies

How to Enjoy the Season of Joy (Not Presents)

This Christmas, you may be feeling the pressure to make the season even more magical after having to skip big events due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Parents may be excited to return to family traditions such as baking together and larger family gatherings. Another thing on many parents’ minds may be picking the perfect present to “wow” their child on Christmas morning.

Due to shipping issues and supply chain problems many stores are facing shortages of the holiday’s latest toys and games. My own daughter’s Christmas list had an item that is impossible to find in any stores or from any of the main online retailers.

Unfortunately, getting the shipments in before the holiday season is unlikely, so what is a parent to do who is trying to capture the magic of the holidays by fulfilling a child’s wish list?

Making More Magical Times Together

The best thing about kids is they really do enjoy the magic of the holidays. Here are some fun ways to inspire all the joyful feelings of the holidays:

  • Volunteer as a family for a local charitable organization.
  • Enjoy decorating for the holidays as a family. This is a favorite in our household. Maybe add a new ornament to the tree or a make homemade decorations like cut-out snowflakes.
  • Bake and make things for neighbors, teachers or family members. You could paint ceramic ornaments, make homemade cards or jewelry.
  • Have a fun family outing such as driving around to look at Christmas lights, caroling, sledding, ice skating, or helping out with church activities.
  • Inspire the spirit of giving by buying gifts or donating to a family or a child in need.
  • Have a movie night and watch a classic Christmas movie such as “The Grinch” or “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
  • Have a sensory night, make gingerbread play dough or Christmas colored slime.
  • Purchase or make an Advent calendar.

Alternatives to Traditional Gifts and Toys

If you’re looking for some unique gifts for your children, especially in light of the shortage of certain toys in stores, try these ideas:

  • “Experience” gifts that focus on doing more than possessing.
  • Vacations: These could be large or small, or even just an overnight somewhere new.
  • Extracurricular activities: Camps and sports can become a large expense for families, this gift may not be as exciting to open but will provide lots of long-term value.
  • Museum memberships: You can use them all year and allow for many experiences for children.
  • Tickets to a performance or sporting event.
  • Family coupons: A coupon to go to a favorite restaurant or to visit a favorite place, get out of a chore, or have an extra 15 minutes before bedtime.
  • Gift cards to a movie theater or a fun place such as a trampoline park.

Giving the Gifts of Learning

If you’re looking for some educational gifts, there are many. You could try ones like:

  • Subscription boxes: You can choose a box that appeals to your child’s interests such as science, art or building.
  • Cooking classes
  • Science kits
  • Magazine subscriptions
  • Bookstore gift cards
  • Board games
  • A book with a note written inside

The season may look a little different than it has in years before, but the great thing about teaching kids about the holiday season is that there are lots of opportunities to create lasting memories with them.

Patricia Bates is a Family Life Educator at Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center.

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