Preparing for the holidays with kiddos

It's that time of year: time to prepare for all the holidays!

I got asked to share at my MOMS group about preparing for the holidays with kids.  As I stopped to think about it, I realized that there are quite a few things I do, without even thinking about it! It's been fun to put together a list.

(photo credit: Sweet Something Design)
Whether we admit it or not, most of us probably dream of a home that is filed with festive decor, smells like freshly baked pumpkin bread, and is all nice and tidy.  But that's just my fantasy world - not where I actually live!

Where I live, there are toys on the floor in every room.  Like, even in my closet.  I'm pretty sure they migrate in while I sleep.  And I if I take the time to clean up one room, some disaster is sure to happen in another room, rendering my house worse off than when I started 15 minutes earlier. Unless I have a candle lit - and time to stand guard making sure little fingers don't wander into the flame, my house probably smells like the last meal we ate.  Or the dirty dishes in the sink since I forgot to start the overfilled dishwasher earlier.  So any decor I have out for any given holiday had surely better be kid-friendly.  Or I need to be okay with it being potentially destroyed.

It's just a season.  Deep down, I know it's true.  But it's still a season I've been in for the past 6 years and counting.  A few more years and all will change.  Not that my house will look like Better Homes and Gardens, but the candle might not need guarding.

Now, first of all, I feel like in America, Thanksgiving has become a forgotten holiday.  People get all amped up for Halloween, then cruise right over to preparing for Christmas.  This is totally a bummer to me.  Thanksgiving is such a great time to stop and reflect on all we have to be grateful.  And believe me, we have a ton to be grateful for!  In our house, we have a "Give Thanks" calendar, much like an advent calendar for Christmas. There are 28 pockets- enough to use one each day of November leading up to Thanksgiving.   The pockets of my calendar are filled with verses from the bible on thankfulness. There are more than enough to choose from! Another fun idea is to write what you are thankful for on a slip of paper each day and put it in the coresponding pocket. When you get to Thanksgiving, take them all out and read them.

I love having my house decorated for fall, but having small children does put limits on what I feel I can do.  Most of my decor is quite kid-friendly. I have a set of three pumpkins on the front porch that are fake and have withstood children hucking them down the steps and across the yard. 

I have three more pumpkins on the stairs that are plush. Those, my friends, are the kinds of pumpkins you need! Cute, but no disasters waiting to happen.

We have been checking Thanksgiving themed books out from the library as well. The library is such a great resource- use it!  Take the opportunity to teach your kids about the holidays we celebrate and why! You can choose cute little picture books, or go with non-fiction depending on your preference. Even Fancy Nancy has a thanksgiving-themed book. 

As you prepare for Thanksgiving, there are plenty of craft options for keeping your kiddos busy. You can always paint some pumpkins and keep them around after Halloween. Kids generally love to paint! You can help them make toilet paper roll turkeys, or let them help make place cards for Thanksgiving dinner. 

Next up: CHRISTMAS! 

What kiddo isn't excited about Christmas?! They labor over their long lists of wants and dream of what they will find under the tree. They love the music, the lights, the magic of it all. And they love getting their little hands on EVERYTHING. They want to unwrap the presents. To rearrange all the ornaments on the tree. And they definitely want to play with the "dolls" that are part of the fragile nativity set handed down from your great-grandma. So what do you do?

Let me tell you.

First of all, when you decorate the tree, make a felt tree and ornaments for your little one to play with. They can rearrange the ornaments over and over to their little heart's content. There's always the option of not decorating the bottom 2 feet of the tree too (which I think is the route we will be going this year!) We used that same method a few years ago when Sweet Pea was one...if you look closely at the photo, you can see the ornaments start several feet off the ground.

At my house, we always have an Advent calendar. For ours, we use verses that, over the course of the month, tell the story of Jesus' birth. Some people use candy or a calendar of activities to take you through the month of December. A couple of years ago, we tried something different- I wrapped 24 books and we used those to help us count down to Christmas. Each night the girls got to open one, and that became the bedtime story for that night. They loved it!

As for a creche, I have one that I get out and put down low just for the kids to play with.  Ours is a wooden one that is very sturdy, but even Little Tykes has a Little People one that is great for kids.  Having one for the kiddos to play with allows them to play and learn without destroying the family heirloom one!

There are lots of ways to make the Christmas season feel magical for your kiddos.  One idea I stumbled across this past week was to "grow candy canes" with them.  What fun!  My girls are pretty skeptical, so I don't know if they will buy it, but I would love to try! We have also watched a snowman "grow" at our house.  I found an awesome set of wall decals, sort of like these, at Walmart a few years ago.  Multiple pieces were missing, so we had to say goodbye to our snowman this past year, but I'm working on an idea to bring him back! Each night while the children were sleeping, I added a new part to our snowman on the wall.  We started with the three round circles to make the body, then added eyes, nose, mouth, arms, mittens, buttons, a hat....  It was a lot of fun.  And the girls had a blast checking to see what our snowman had gained overnight each morning when they woke up.

There are tons of fun craft projects you can do with your kids around Christmas time too. You can use toilet paper rolls to make reindeer, snowmen, and a nativity scene. You can use puffy paint to make snowflakes that will stick to windows. If you are ready for some scissor practice, you can make paper snowflakes together, or work on cutting out circles for snowpeople. And there are plenty of things you can make with your children to use as gifts for friends and family. Stay posted for more ideas of gifts to make with your kids, hopefully coming later this week!


  1. Great ideas! I'm sure it was a wonderful presentation :)


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