10 Free and Low-Cost Ways to
Give Kids the Best Holiday Season Ever
by Norma Schmidt
Yes, you CAN tame commercialism and give your kids a fantastic holiday season at
the same time.
Kids naturally look forward to getting Christmas presents.
But presents don’t need to be the all-consuming focus. The more we enrich the
holidays with simple, homespun pleasures and gifts of time and attention, the
more kids’ wish-lists stay in the background.
Here is some free and low-cost "magic" the kids will love:
1. Sing Christmas carols with your kids while cooking and cleaning together or
just before tuck-in time.
2. As a special treat during December, serve hot chocolate milk with a
candy-cane stirrer. While your child sips and stirs, read aloud a favorite
holiday book. Or, if the Nativity story is part of your family’s celebration,
point out that the candy cane is shaped like a shepherd’s crook. Then read or
tell the story of the angel who appeared to shepherds watching their flock at
3. Take a plate of home-made cookies to a homeless shelter or to people who work
at night, such as firefighters or hospital emergency staff. If you’re
celebrating the birth of Jesus, also put a bit of food outside for animals on
Christmas Eve night to honor the animals at the manger -- an old Slovak custom.
4. Give each family member 10 strips of paper in holiday colors. Let everyone
write or draw something they're thankful for on each strip. Link the strips into
a chain and hang as a decoration.
5. Make thank-you cards for each other, sharing what you appreciate about each
member of the family. Open them on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning.
6. Make paper snowflakes and display them in a window. Here’s how: Trace and cut
out a circle from white paper (the flat end of a coffee can or oatmeal box is a
nice size for tracing). Fold your circle in half. Next, fold your half into
thirds, so that you’re left with a shape that resembles 1/6 of a pie. Now, snip
out bits of paper here and there and unfold your masterpiece.
7. Make a simple paper-chain Advent calendar. Cut 25 strips of paper, and number
them 1-25. Link the strips in numerical order to form a chain. With yarn, string
or ribbon, hang your chain in the middle of a doorway with strip #1 at the
bottom. Each day starting December 1, let the kids remove the bottom link of the
8. Go to your local library and check out children’s books about the holidays.
Put the books in a special box or basket in your family room or living room.
9. Have a holiday family movie night at home. Get a holiday movie from your
library or video rental shop and watch it together. Include bowls of popcorn if
your kids are past the age where popcorn presents a choke-hazard.
10. Avoid post-Christmas let-down by planning an outing or special family
activity each day until the kids go back to school. A PURE KID-STUFF BONUS TIP:
After dark, turn on your Christmas tree lights and turn off all other lights in
the room, including the star or other "topper" on your tree. Now lie back on the
floor with your kids and notice the cool shadows on your ceiling.
Norma Schmidt, M.A., M.Div., helps busy parents create peaceful, connected,
spiritually well-fed families. To get her free report, "55 Free and Low-Cost
Ways to Have the Best Holiday Season EVER,"