how to holiday

with young children

As we draw closer to the holiday season, we often find our schedules and resources stretched thin. Amid the hustle and bustle of preparations, it’s important to set aside a few moments for reflection on the significance of family and coming together. For parents of very young children, the holidays are an opportunity to create cherished memories and introduce them to or establish your family’s unique holiday traditions, including those from different cultures and faiths. Here are some tips on sharing the magic of the holiday season with your little ones.

keep it simple and age-appropriate​

Young children may not fully understand the significance of holidays, but they can still enjoy the festivities. Keep your holiday traditions simple and age-appropriate. For instance, if you celebrate Christmas, decorating a Christmas tree can be an exciting adventure for them. Let them hang the ornaments on the lower branches, and you can save the fragile ones for higher up.

start new traditions

While it's wonderful to continue family traditions, consider starting some new ones. This can be something as simple as baking holiday cookies together, creating homemade ornaments, or even having a special holiday-themed bedtime story. Make or purchase an advent calendar to count down the days until the holiday. Each day can bring a small surprise or activity. The key is to make it fun, memorable, and suitable for your child's age.

include them in preparation

Young children love to be involved in the preparations. Let them help wash and sort the vegetables for Thanksgiving, help light the menorah or kinara if you celebrate Hanukkah or Kwanzaa. Their little contributions make them feel important and connected to the holiday preparations.

celebrate cultural diversity

Holidays are a perfect time to teach your child about the diversity of our world. Have your little ones help prepare traditional dishes from your own culture, and learn about the ways families in other cultures celebrate with their traditions. It's a beautiful way to instill an appreciation for various cultures and promote tolerance and understanding.

create a gratitude ritual

Teaching gratitude to young children is an important habit to build. Create a simple gratitude ritual, like going around the dinner table and having each family member express one thing they are thankful for. Encourage your children to express gratitude by creating and decorating thank you notes. It's a meaningful way to teach appreciation and the importance of saying thanks.

light up the nights

The holiday season often involves beautiful lights and decorations. Take your little one on a walk or drive to see the holiday lights in your neighborhood. The enchanting displays can be a source of wonder for young children.

encourage acts of kindness

The holidays are an excellent opportunity to teach your child about giving, compassion, and kindness. Engage in simple acts of kindness like donating toys to those in need, participating in a food drive, or making homemade cards for neighbors or nursing home residents. Consider a family tradition of giving back, like volunteering at a local shelter, donating to a food bank, or participating in a charity event. Learn more about First Circle’s charitable giving opportunities here.

enjoy the joy of music

Music has a special place in holiday traditions. Play holiday songs and dance around with your child. You can even create a small family talent show or sing-along, which can be a great way to bond and create lasting memories.

be flexible and patient

Most importantly, be flexible and patient. Young children may not always follow the plan, and that's okay. Sometimes, they might just want to cuddle and watch a holiday movie. Go with the flow and remember that the joy is in being together.

Remember, the holiday season with very young children is not just about tasks and deadlines, it’s about creating a sense of wonder, fostering connections, and building lifelong memories. These ideas and tools can help you make the most of this special time and create lasting traditions with your children.