Original Article on Books for Kids from Parade: Read Now
Video Review on Christmas Gift Ideas: Watch Now
We are very proud to be listed in Parade Magazine’s Holiday Gift Guide -Books for Kids this year. There are always so many wonderful titles to look over. It is such a passion of mine that we keep reading out loud to kids, so to be included in an article in which the author is looking forward to reading our book snuggled up with her niece this holiday season makes me proud! I certainly think that Santa’s (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!) Night Before Christmas is a book worthy of an annual holiday tradition.
And the video gift guide by Velvet Giggles is a delight. Again, we are very proud to be included. If you’ve never seen a review by Renae, you are in for a treat. She has some great ideas and has a way of making me want all of them! Enjoy!
Oh- and in case you missed it, we are now available in Kindle format as well as a great interactive app. For more on the interactive version go to Interactive Touch Books. You can click on Santa turn his suit from purple to red, hear jets roar, sleighbells ring, snowmen turn upside down and so much more!
So you think you’re moving along and adapting to your new split-family living situation, but then wham, how will you handle the children and the holidays after divorce. You take your children to their Dad (Mom) on Tuesday and you’ll see them again on Saturday. It is a bumpy cycle and much to be learned, but you’re getting the hang of it.
Then what do you spy on your calendar as you turn the page? The next major holiday doesn’t fall on Tuesday? It doesn’t fall on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday either. You realize you are going to have to go dig out those divorce papers and see what year it is and if it’s odd or even and if you get to see your children or if you’ll be attending that holiday function without kids in tow. So what can you do to make split-family living better during the holidays?
- Have Fun! Remember that even though this is a transition time in your lives it is still the holiday season and it should be FUN! Read silly books together with your kids, like Santa’s (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!) Night Before Christmas. Watch old movies and Christmas specials. Bake cut out cookies. Go look at Christmas lights. Sing Christmas Carols. Play in the snow if you have it. Make snowflakes if you don’t. Do anything to lighten the mood. It is still supposed to be FUN!
- Communicate. Communication is key to everything, and the holidays are no exception. Talk to your kids and ex-spouse. Maybe the every other year thing is too confusing. Maybe your kids are feeling left out. They might even feel guilty that Mom or Dad is alone. See if you can work on a schedule that works better. Some families opt to split the holidays by time, so that a child is with one parent until 2:00 and the other for the remainder of the day. Some opt to split the holidays so that the kids know that every Thanksgiving they will be with Mom and her family for the entire day, but that every Easter or some other holiday they spend it with Dad and his family. That allows traditions to build and nobody has to stop right in the middle of the fun. A book like We’re Having A Tuesday will also help your kids communicate any feelings they may be having about missing out on one thing or another.
- Put your differences aside. Maybe for a day, an hour, but do whatever you can. If you can manage to go to a pumpkin patch and carve pumpkins great. If you can only handle opening gifts all together, so be it. If it means sharing a piece of holiday pie and some eggnog, great! Any amount of time you can spend all together will be the biggest gift you can possibly give to your kids. Remember you are doing it for them.
- Plan Ahead. Don’t be agreeing to the schedule the night before. Inevitably there will be a child eating back to back turkey if there is no plan.
- Be flexible and reasonable, and keep your word. If you plan to have your child home at 2:00 and it’s 2:15, don’t make a big fuss to your ex-spouse. Things have a way of taking a little longer than expected during the holidays. But don’t purposely ignore the agreed upon schedule. That only sets your child up to be caught in the middle of your frustrations.
- Agree on gift giving methods. Will you each be buying gifts separately or together? Will you coordinate so you don’t both give the same thing? Who will take the children shopping to purchase gifts for each of their parents? How will they be paid for? It is perfectly acceptable to teach your children the art of giving, even if it means you are buying a robe for your ex-wife.
- Establish new traditions. You can incorporate old ones if you wish, but it might be time to start some new ones. Maybe every holiday morning you will serve homemade cinnamon rolls. Maybe birthdays will now always be celebrated by waking up with balloons. It is good to incorporate new so that whatever might be missing from the old might not be as missed.
- Let the love shine. Allow your child to communicate with the missing parent. Maybe it will be a quick telephone call, maybe it will be a quick pick up to walk around the block. In any case, your child is possibly celebrating a holiday without one of the most important people in their life. It’s okay for them to want to share part of it with them.
10 New Holiday Traditions to start with your kids this year! I’ve always been one to enjoy holiday traditions. I guess that to me, it is the traditions that weave our lives together year after year. After all isn’t that the time we tend to make the effort to see old friends and gather with our families. They are what we look forward to. Traditions, rather it be the particular way our family makes Macaroni salad or that we always have a ham dinner for Christmas, how we open up our presents, or even when we get together, those traditions are what we remember and look forward to. I often recall fondly certain food things, but there are many other things that my family has woven through our holidays year after year. I will share some great ideas that I think will make your holidays memorable through the coming years. Some we have done, some I have only wished I would have started so they would already be a part of our traditions. And one is brand new even to me, but I like it! It is never too early to start with your kids. Let them help, let them be a part of it and pretty soon they will look forward to the things they remember from their holidays growing up. Here are some ideas to consider starting as a new holiday tradition with your kids this year.
- Christmas Eve Box – Growing up I was always allowed to open just one present on Christmas Eve. I suppose it was a way to hold me over. It never seemed to work well. I still woke my parents up at about 3 a.m. telling them that Santa had been and it was time to get started! A Christmas Eve Box expands on that idea. It is a gift box designed to be opened on Christmas morning. It includes a pair of Christmas PJ’s (who doesn’t love a new pair of fun PJ’s?!), a new Christmas book to read out loud like Santa’s (Zany Wacky Just Not Right!) Night Before Christmas, if you don’t have it, maybe a candy cane and some hot cocoa mix, or a new DVD Christmas movie and a bag of microwave popcorn. Whatever goes in the box ideally would be something that your little one (or big kids like this too!) will enjoy savoring for that last night while they wait for Santa!
- Christmas Book Box- Speaking of books, another idea is to have a Christmas Book Box. It would be a box that you maybe add to each year. Customarily those would be great read aloud picture books, but if your family likes other books to read aloud, other chapter novel Christmas books would be great additions too. Then each year you will get out the box and read these books again and again. It might be you read one each night during the season. Maybe you have a night, like tree decorating night, that you sit down and read several. Maybe on Christmas Eve, you read them all in one sitting. Just make sure you enjoy the old books as you keep adding new ones each year. And since you probably don’t have it, I have to plug that Santa’s Zany Wacky….makes a good one, and for more on other Santa books that make nice traditions see my previous post. Santa Books
- Ornaments – In my family I started collecting the Hallmark series ornaments. Every member in our family has a series that we add on to each year. We open them on Christmas Eve night, and hang the new one on the tree. My daughter who is about ready to move off on her own will have the most lovely set of ornaments to begin decorating her own tree with. But there are other things you can do to make ornaments part of a tradition. Some families make a special personalized ornament with each member that comes into the family. It could be a simple ball ornament with their name, or it could be an ornament that somehow represents them. Another nice thing you can do with ornaments is to find a special ornament for each child that represents something special about their past year. For example if she started ballet lessons it could be an ornament relating to ballet. Or if he went to cooking school maybe it would be an ornament with a rolling pin. There are so many ways to make annual ornaments part of the holiday traditions.
- Christmas movie or specials like Charlie Brown –My kids get a big laugh out of the idea that we all had to check the listings for the Christmas specials to come on. But we did. And we looked forward to certain ones year after year. It would be easy to find an old Christmas film that you liked growing up and share it with your kids. You could pick the same one year after year, or you could introduce them to new ones every year. It is a fun way to connect with your kids about what you did growing up. Two of my favorite movies are Santa Claus and The Grinch, but here are a couple list to help you remember. Specials or Movies
- Baking Cookies – There are so many ways that baking cookies can become part of your tradition. It can be as simple as just baking them one day each season with your kids. Even when they are very little they love to dump things into the bowl or sprinkle on some sugar. Or you could host cookie decorating get together with all of the kids in the extended family. Of course teaching your kids how to make a family heirloom recipe is a wonderful way to start a tradition. Some families don’t do this and then when Grandma passes on, so do the cookies. It is never too early to start teaching how to make those special treats. It could be that the tradition is that you look through magazines, cookbooks, or the internet looking each year to discover some new holiday treats.
- Mapping out Christmas Lights to drive around– For as long as I can remember my kids and I have looked forward to going out one night, usually Christmas Eve for us, and looking at all the Christmas lights on houses. It is fun to go our favorites, and see them again and again. Some years we find new ones. Some years our favorites are no longer there for whatever reason. But each year we go, chatting and signing along the way.
- Christmas cards– Having your kids participate in sending out Christmas cards is a fun way to teach them about what is quickly becoming a lost art. You can make cards together. That can mean cutting things out, drawing, painting, putting hand prints or the like. Or it could be as simple as letting them seal the envelopes. Maybe they can help write a Christmas letter and help choose the stories and pictures included. The important thing is, if they sit down with you every year to participate in preparing Christmas cards to send out, in whatever capacity, then it is likely that they will carry on that tradition when they decide how to celebrate their own holidays.
- Scavenger Hunt or Christmas Caroling – Christmas caroling is almost a lost art. But it is delightful to open the door and find people singing delightful songs. Gather some family or friends, and go out. It really is fun and rewarding. Or………if singing just really isn’t your cup of tea, then try designing a scavenger hunt. There are all kinds of fun ways to do it. You can divide up the family, create a list, set a timer, and off you go. I promise there will be stories to share upon your return of how someone got that last unlikely item, or the tales of what the neighbors said and did.
- Family Photo – including your pets under the tree! It is something you will want to look back on year after year. And if you take the time to do it you will have a nice documentation of how much your kids have grown, how your home and trees have changed, and even a good record of the pets in your life. After all they are part of our families too. It seems like it is so obvious to do this, but it is so easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of getting ready. So make a point! Find a time…….like the night you put it up, or Christmas Eve, or the night you watch Charlie Brown. Just start and commit!
- Pickle- I lost a dear friend this year who had lots of German traditions because his wife was from Germany. I always loved hearing about them. And though he never told me about this one, I couldn’t help but include it when I read about it. What a fun game! I always thought being in a pickle was a negative thing. But with this tradition, it sounds like a good way to start off the year. And………..it is only one night of hiding something for those who dread that other little “hiding” game.
the last decoration
placed on the Christmas tree
was always a pickle… carefully
hidden deep in the boughs. Legend
has it that the observant child who found
it on Christmas Day was blessed with a year
of good fortune…
and a special gift!