Starting around September, when the stores begin setting up their Christmas displays, many parents use the threat of landing on the naughty list to keep their kids in line. No one wants a lump of coal in their stocking, after all! The ironic reality is that we, as parents, often display behavior that is more naughty than nice as evidenced in the 5 Holiday Don’ts I shared on Monday.
The good news is a little awareness can help you course correct and get your name removed from the dreaded Naughty List. And to help you earn a coveted spot on the Nice List, I put together 5 Holiday Do’s.
Santa Approved Holiday Do’s
Santa will certainly be jolly if you follow these holiday do’s this Christmas.
1. Honor Family Cultural Traditions
I’m a big fan of creating and honoring family traditions year-round, but Christmas offers us another opportunity to create traditions around our family history and cultural background. I love the melting pot we live in today, but if we don’t make an effort to celebrate our heritage, we lose it over time too.
Are there certain traditional dishes or holiday treats served at Christmas? If you don’t have a living relative who can help answer your questions, then go online with your kids and do a little research. Pick a recipe to try and serve at Christmas. I always make some traditional German recipes and talk to the girls about their Grandfather who they only know from my stories.
Make sure your older relatives, in particular, share some of their stories from growing up. They may not mean much to your kids right now, but you’ll be glad to hear them and be able to keep them alive for when your kids are ready to listen.
2. Manage Expectations Around Presents
This is a big one and it’s one that many of us overlook. Until kids reach a certain age, much of their attention is focused on those presents under the tree. They like to shake them and guess what lies underneath that colorful wrapping paper. It is so exciting to them and sometimes their imaginations get carried away.
There is nothing wrong with dreaming big, but it has to be grounded in reality too. You do your children no favors by letting them believe Santa will bring them a pony or an expensive toy if that is not in the budget or practical.
Gifts Should Fall within a Price Range
It’s why the one parameter I give the girls when they create their wish list is price range. You have a pretty good idea on what people spend on your kids from previous years, so make sure your kids are choosing gifts that fit their budget. If your child really wants a pony, be honest about why that is not practical, then see if there are any gifts that fit their price range that involves ponies, such as going horseback riding, visiting a petting zoo where there are pony rides, a movie or book on ponies, etc.
Gifts Don’t Equal Love
This is also a great time to talk to kids about why people give gifts at Christmas. And why the cost or number of gifts don’t signify greater or lesser love, but simply is a personal choice. To be so grateful for every gift received.
3. Focus on the True Meaning of Christmas
Christmas means different things to everyone. And that’s okay. Just know what means to you and your family. In our home, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. He gets top billing during Christmas and the girls know it. We also believe Christmas is a time to give back and to be with loved ones. We make sure how we spend our time and money reflect those values too.
This is not something Chris and I keep to ourselves, but we openly talk to the girls about our values and beliefs and how we honor them through the choices we make. Santa Claus and gift-giving are part of the fun, but we try to give the girls perspective the best we can.
One thing we also recognize is that for very young kids nothing trumps Santa Claus. And that’s okay. We still focused on our traditions and values, even when they meant more to us than they did to the girls. But as they have grown older, his importance has begun to diminish. Now I hear more often, “Mom, when are we going to decorate the tree?” or “Mom, when are going to make our gingerbread homes?” or “Mom, have we adopted our family for the holidays yet?”. And that is music to this Mom’s ears.
4. Acknowledge Blessings and Give Back
There is so much amazing stuff happening right now, and there is also lots of horrible things going on too. And in our own personal lives, it can be easy to focus on what’s not working, where it’s big or small. We get stuck and feel lost, forgetting how blessed we truly are. Giving and gratitude is the best way to break out of that cycle.
There are endless opportunities to give back during Christmas from food drives, Toys for Tots, Angel Trees, adopting a family for Christmas, volunteer opportunities and of course, giving money to organizations you support. Even if you don’t have the financial wherewithal to give money, you can still volunteer or organize a food drive or toy collection at your workplace or place of worship. Much like presents, it’s not the size or cost that matters, giving just needs to come from the heart.
5. Give Yourself Permission to Have Fun
One thing I hear regularly is how stressful the holidays have become and it makes people feel very grinch-like. I understand. From all the running around and over-stuffing of activities, it can get overwhelming. But it doesn’t need to be that way. It is okay to say “no” so that you actually have the time to enjoy the festivities and have fun with loved ones.
Don’t stress yourself out over making Christmas perfect. Who cares if the presents aren’t wrapped perfectly or if all your Christmas ornaments are on the bottom third of your Christmas tree because your kids couldn’t reach any higher. Maybe your Christmas cookies look like a 5 year-old decorated them instead of a master baker, but then again, a five year old did decorate them! These are actually the moments that make Christmas magical.
Laugh when best laid plans go awry, agree to read a second holiday book when the kids beg for one more story and enjoy being surrounded by loved ones. If you can do those things, it will truly be the most wonderful time of the year.
What does Christmas mean to you and your family? What is your favorite holiday do?
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