Every year around this time, stores and parenting magazines come out with their “It” toys list. It’s hard for any eager-to-please parent to resist. I was once suckered into buying my toddler these weird looking stuffed animals that would harmonize if you pressed their tummies simultaneously after they were touted as the must have of the year. He never touched them, no matter how much I popped them in his face. Waste of money. A lot of parents do this in a desperate attempt to make the morning after Santa’s visit as wonderful as possible. But I say we are going about it all wrong. If you really want to make this the best Christmas ever, think about getting your family one of these gifts.
- A dog. Yes, it’s a big commitment, but if you are up to the challenge it will be a beloved addition to your family. No matter what your day has been like, your dog will always be happy to see each and every one of you when you come in the door. Nothing beats seeing our Shih Tzu Neo run up, tail wagging every evening. Plus, giving your kids a real role in taking care of him teaches them responsibility.
- Christmas away from home. (And I don’t mean at a relatives house where you will be bunking on a blow-up bed.) Take a memorable family vacation. Camping, an amusement park, a beach vacation are all good options. One year, we took our mothers on a cruise. Best part about it? No cooking or cleaning. Or you might consider a cold-weather destination to learn something new together, like skiing. Also, winter is a great time of year to get good deals on places that are usually hot summer destinations. It’s nice to get away and try something different as a family. This trip is more about the experience than having a million gifts to open, though the memory itself is actually a pretty awesome gift.
- Institute a cool holiday tradition they will always look forward to. I have friends whose parents hosts a post-Christmas get together for neighbors after all the gift exchanges and dinners are done. The goal is for everyone to let loose and relax. The kids share their new toys and gadgets and the grown-ups indulge in a few hard-earned cocktails. Another family I know changes into their favorite football jerseys and spend the afternoon watching football and eating junk food. In my family, we used to see a movie after Christmas dinner. It’s small, but something I loved to do every year.
How do you make Christmas special for your kids -- aside from giving gifts?
Image via Ericka Souter