The holiday season seems to start earlier and earlier. Kids get excited for this time of year, oh, say, around February. As December gets closer and stores start to display their holiday best, the excitement builds. It’s easy to get so caught up in wrapping gifts, decorating the house and preparing for holiday guests that we forget to actually enjoy the anticipation of the season.

Here are a few simple ways to harness that excitement into making incredible memories with your family:

Create

Let the magic in the air, sparkle of the decorations and all around positive energy be the muse for you and your family. Find inspiration in the holiday season to create decor and lots of memories. Make an artbook for Santa to leave with the cookies or to give as a gift to a family member. Using the medium of their choice kids can create a simple drawing each day that describes what the season means to them. Explore themes like favorite memories from that year or favorite foods.

Set aside some days to hunt for pine cones and fresh greenery. Pine cone hunting is a great excuse to take blustery family hikes. Use your nature haul to create accents such as a decorative swag, a centerpiece or a wreath. Not only will you be too distracted looking for pine cones to notice the cold, you’ll also have some no cost accents for your home.

Decorate

Ornaments are always a great craft project this time of year. Set up a workspace where family members can make ornaments from craft supplies or natural elements to attach to presents as part of the gift for loved ones. Creating one ornament a day could be a real challenge. A fun incentive to create multiple ornaments may be to have the family pick one or a few to keep and add to the family tree.

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard was to put decorations up, like the tree in three stages. Erecting a sparking, twinkling tree in your living room in only one day can only invite a toddler to explore this magic. Putting the tree up one day, adding lights the next, and decorations as the last stage gives your little time to adjust. If you want to take it a step further, give your little one a tree of their own to decorate. Take a piece of posterboard and create a cone. Glue green felt to the cone and Ta-Da! you have a kid safe tree that they can decorate.

Give

As the holiday season approaches, consider blurring the lines between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Hang a large poster board or sheet of paper in an area where the entire family can access it. Each day, each family member can use the space to give thanks for something big or small. This could be the start of a new family tradition and a fun way to end the year and enter the new year with so much to be grateful for.

Another way to bring more cheer to the season is to give back. Pick a cause or a project and do one thing for that cause each day/week. For example, one week could be collecting food for the homeless shelter and the next week could be collecting old clothes to donate. For a project that the entire family can take part in, make “giving bags”. Add necessities like deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush and other other items to resealable one quart bags. Even the little ones can get in on the assembly of these bags. When you’re all done, donate the bags to a shelter or keep some in the car to give to someone who might be in need.

No matter how you choose to spend your holiday season, make sure you take the time to relax and enjoy all the wonder this special time of the year has to offer. And enjoy that hot chocolate guilt free – you’ve earned it.

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