December 20, 2007

Lasting Impressions

Can you list the gifts you gave or received two years ago? How about last year? It's not so easy to do is it?

We go in search of the perfect gifts each holiday season. Maybe expensive gifts are not the ones that have the most significance. Maybe something simple or handmade will make a greater impact upon the recipient. Quite often a child will have more fun with the box and packing peanuts his gift came in than he will have with the electronic toy that's inside.

Here are some gift suggestions for young children:

* Buy a book and record yourself reading it. Wrap up the book with the recording for a special book and tape gift.

* Create a coupon for a special time for just you and the child. Choose an activity they would enjoy doing and include an object that symbolizes the time.

* Make home play-dough (See November 7th entry for recipe) and include cookie cutters, plastic knives, popcicle sticks and a six inch length of a 1 inch diameter dowel for a rolling pin. Put the kit inside a cake pan with a lid.

Simple gifts can create the fondest of memories.

December 19, 2007

My Christmas Memory

Growing up on the farm in Kansas, Santa would visit our home while my family was attending a worship service on Christmas Eve. The year I was four, after opening all our gifts, there was a knock at the door. My father opened the door and in walked Santa Claus!

After handing each of my family members an orange from his bag, he approached me to wish me Merry Christmas while giving me a hug and a kiss. His breath smelled of alcohol and he was wearing bright red lipstick. After he left, I noticed he had gotten lipstick all over the hair and face of my brand new doll. I spent the rest of Christmas Eve crying while my mother tried unsuccessfully to remove the lipstick.

It wasn't until I was a teenager that I learned the identity of Santa. He was the owner of the only restaurant in town and before he traveled the community that Christmas Eve, he had indulged in a few too many drinks. Mr. Blaske passed away many years ago but I will forever have a wonderful memory of the Christmas Eve I had a visit from Santa.

December 18, 2007

Selecting Toys

The toy aisles are jammed packed this time of year. I have no young children in my family to purchase toys for but I enjoy walking the aisles to see what toys are being marketed.

The vast number of electronic toys amazes me. Technology has become a big part of our lives and it's no different for children. However, I can't help but wonder what kind of an effect electronic toys have on children. I feel they inhibit creativity by not encouraging a child to use their imagination.

If you're purchasing toys for children this holiday season I'd like to offer these suggestion:

Blocks, board games, Legos, puppets, art supplies, Lincoln Logs, a tea set, puzzles. Think back to the toys of your childhood. Which ones bring back memories? By giving a special child in your life a toy that doesn't require batteries you will be encouraging their creativity. Once the child has opened your gift, get down on the floor and play with them. You'll be making new holiday memories for both you and your favorite child.

December 8, 2007

Awaiting The Holidays

As Christmas looms closer, your children may be bouncing off the walls in anticipation of holiday preparations, parties and the gifts they hope to receive. Even though they are exhibiting happy energy it can get out of hand.

An over-eager child might break ornaments while helping decorate the tree. They might drop the plate of cookies you baked for the neighbors or give away secrets about what's in the packages.

Here are some suggestions for how to get things under control without curbing your child's excitement.

* Write down on the family calendar when special events will occur. This eliminates your child continually asking when events will occur.

* Even with all the extra events, keep your child's routine as consistent as possible.

* Enlist your child to help with gift wrapping, making place cards for the family dinner or even helping clean the house in preparation for guests.

* Suggest they play a board game or other quiet activity. This will have a calming effect and bring their excitement level down a notch.

By helping your child find ways to channel all of their holiday excitement, things in your house will be much more manageable.

December 2, 2007

De-Stress The Holidays

You're trying to wrap gifts, address holiday cards and bake cookies for the neighbors. When you add all of these tasks into the mix of your usual household tasks it can certainly be overwhelming. You might find yourself with little patience and feeling short-tempered. If you have children, they're probably picking up on your tension and reacting in inappropriate ways.

Resorting to telling them they'll be on Santa's naughty list might not be effective. There are some simple things you can do to ease the tension.

* Enlist your children to stuff envelopes and put stamps on holiday cards.

* Have them help bake cookies. They can stir in chocolate chips and add sprinkles.

* Involve them in wrapping gifts. Just be sure to have an extra roll of tape on hand because kids love to play with it.

* When a squabble breaks out, start singing a holiday song. What child can resist a chorus of Jingle Bells or Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer?

At the end of a hectic day plug in the lights on the tree, gather your children on your lap and read a cherished Christmas story. After all, that's what Christmas is all about.

December 1, 2007

Holidays and Stress

The stress that surrounds the holidays can make family gatherings uncomfortable. This is especially true in families with there is already some tension amongst family members.

During family gatherings, treat your family members with respect and try to focus on their good qualities rather than what has caused the tensions between you. If someone becomes confrontational with you, take a deep breath and tell the person that you will discuss things with them another time and that you want the family event to stay positive and focused on the spirit of the holiday season.

Making a plan about how you will deal with an uncomfortable situation will put you at ease and allow you to enjoy family gatherings.