Holidays: How to keep kids sanity without losing yours!

by service coordinator, Helen Littlejohn



At this time of year as we plan for celebrations, children can easily pick up from you and any other adults around them the added stress.  This can lead to unwanted behaviors at an already stressful time of the year.

Having a game plan can assist in making your lives all a little better.


1) Plan to have family meals where no phones, TV’s, or other distractions interfere with conversations. Plan topic starters for times when conversations come to a lull.  Some ideas are:

  • What is a fun idea we could do this weekend?
  • What would be a good gift for grandma for her birthday, (or Christmas…)
  • What do you think we should have with the Turkey on Thanksgiving?
  • What is your favorite pie?
  • If you had $1,000 what would you do with it?
  • What is your favorite sports team/performer/cartoon..?
  • What was your favorite birthday gift and why?
  • For very young children: what is your favorite color, number, story…
  • If you could be a story character what would you be and why


2) On or before Thanksgiving:

  • Have children help with creating menu, setting the table, making food, cleaning a room for guests, cleaning the house, getting out special supplies, shopping for food, etc.
  • Have your child or children send out invitations to grandparents, relatives, or family friends.
  • Plan games
  • Create table setting cards (decorated by child)
  • Create a centerpiece (with help from your children/ child)
  • Create party favors (pictures to send home with grandma or relatives created by child)


3) As Christmas gets closer…

  • Try an advent calendar: remember these don’t always have to be chocolate! The internet has many different options for calendars filled with beef jerky, socks, or even essentials oils for mom. You can also buy one to fill yourself!
  • To count down the days before Christmas, use a construction paper chain that the child can tear each day so that they see the chain getting shorter and shorter – label each chain a date.
  • Mail a letter to Santa and mail it at the post office (meet the mailman)
  • Do one kind thing each day with your child– give an elderly neighbor a item of food, or shovel the walkway, brush off a neighbor’s car, volunteer at the food pantry, collect bottles and cans and give the money to food pantry, clean out toy chest and give usable toys to the thrift store.
  • Decorate the tree
  • Attend a church service and discuss the significance of Christmas


4) For other celebrations such as Kwanza or Hanukkah, do anything that promotes celebration, tradition and kindness.


In the end, there are just going to be times that are stressful – try to laugh and lighten up as you navigate this time of year with your children.  Carve out time for you to stay rested and relaxed.  Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Do fun things that make memories.  Your children will only be this small for a short time.  These traditions are the things that will stick in their memories and will draw them back home when they are grown.  You may even find that they will eventually emulate you with their children!  That is a wonderful day!