I thought it might be nice to remind you that kids LOVE to get in the kitchen. This holiday, plan some family traditions around kitchen time together. It does not have to perfectly-planned or Pinterest-worthy. In fact, let's put away our phones and capture memories with our minds. Let's truly savor the time we have with our kids and make sure they have us fully present and delighting in them. Building these memories will last a lifetime--far, far beyond the latest device or Toy of the Year.
Here are some ideas you can implement this month (and be sure to post your own ideas below as well):
1) Movie Night. Pair a favorite snack with a beloved Christmas Movie. Get warm and cozy in holiday jammies & slippers and cuddle on the couch.
2) Game Night. Make a kid-friendly charcuterie board and settle around the dining table for a friendly, family competition.
3) Caroling. Make hot chocolate and gather together to sing your favorite holiday songs. Bring out the karaoke machine and make it a family affair! After this practice session, take your talent door-to-door for neighbors to enjoy.
4) Cookie Swap. Invite neighbors to do a cookie swap. Each family can spend time baking and decorating special cookies and then visit throughout the neighborhood swapping cookies.
5) Story Time. Each evening in December, make it a point to read special holiday books together as a family. Even older kids LOVE to return to the magic of childhood every once in a while! Pair this with an edible advent calendar full of homemade treats (like yummy caramels).
6) Donate. Teach your children to give of their time and talent. Prepare a special meal as a family and deliver it to a local fire- or police station. Or prepare boxed meals and deliver to shut-ins or homeless citizens.
7) Get Crafty. A lot of bonding can happen at the craft table. Make ornaments and decorate a special family tree. Build your collection every year and make a tradition of trimming this unique family tree. Put on music, prepare mulled cider, string popcorn, and enjoy the spirit of the holiday together.
8) Family Meeting. Let the family come together and plan the holiday meal. Give everyone a chance to make suggestions and decide together on the menu. Then let each family member choose a role for how s/he will help prepare the meal. Don't forget things like shopping, table decor, place settings, clean-up, etc.
9) Letters for Santa. Let children write letters to Santa asking for experiences in addition to things. Then ask them to create an experience for Santa when he arrives on Christmas Eve. They should give him something to see, feel, hear, taste, & smell. Setting up these scenes for Santa will delight kids' senses too and spark all kinds of creativity, such as an entertaining, impromptu puppet show!
10) Teach a Tradition; Leave a Legacy. Recall a favorite family recipe and teach it to your children. Bring them in the kitchen, break the recipe into small tasks, and walk the kids through step-by-step. Let them try new things, including how to properly hold a knife or flip something with a spatula. Be sure to share memories and stories of generations past as you are preparing the dish. Then sit down and eat together and let the kids talk about their own favorite holiday memories.
Get out picture albums after the meal and show the kids their family gatherings from years back. If you are blessed to have generations still living in one place, invite grandparents, aunts, and uncles to come and share favorite recipes and stories!