Sleigh bells ring, are you listenin'? It might be hard to believe that Thanksgiving has passed already, but we are indeed well into the holiday season. It's time to break out the decorations and make our homes festive and bright. Here's how to do that and incorporate your preschoolers.
Letting even the youngest members of the family have a hand in decorating for the holidays can up the excitement factor ten-fold. Whether it was helping to select the wreath or trimming the tree, helping can be an important part of your child's holiday experience.
Holiday decorating should be a fun and stressfree activity, even with preschoolers. The key is selecting tasks and activities that are age appropriate and that can be done a little at a time, or in a short amount of time. That will prevent little kids from getting bored or losing interest.
So, what can you do?
What goes on the Christmas tree? Ornaments! Have your child help make some ornaments using Shrinky Dink (yes, it still exists!). "The toddler scribbles with Sharpie pens, you punch a hole in the sheet, you bake it, and voila! You have a great Christmas tree ornament!" says mom Christi Fish, a former kindergarten teacher.
Homemade wrapping paper
For the presents that will sit below your tree, homemade wrapping paper can add an eco-friendly take on gift giving.
"When she paints using the easel (or draws), I save the large reams of paper and use them for holiday (or birthday) wrapping. We can't keep every drawing, and it is a personal and eco friendly way to wrap," said Jessie Nagel, a special agent for Hype and a mom.
Trim the mantle
Interior designer Natalia Smith knows a thing or two about decorating, but she is turning the decorating of her home's mantle over to her three-year-old son this year. "[It is a] very safe and easy activity to position several Christmas tree branches on the mantel/shelf, and your child can place candles (the stable, thicker ones) on top where ever he pleases or with some direction. Then, we have butterflies – large soft ornaments that are made of wire, thus will not break or crack, and we place them on top of the branches; little toys can work as ornaments there as well, as they are just 'sitting' on top," Smith suggests.
Christmas cookies can make great, economical gifts for people on your list. Having your child help with mixing and decorating cookies is a great way to incorporate them into this activity and contribute to the family's gift giving.
Nagel's daughter helps her with holiday baking. "I have her help make and decorate cookies to give to guests and neighbors. She loves to help, though you have to be prepared for MESS!" Nagel says.
An oldie but goodie craft you can do with young children is to make paper chains. Gather up construction paper cut into strips and glue or tape the lengths into interlocking rings.
Fish suggests making paper chains and cut out snowflakes as well with silly scissors found in most craft stores. "Our son couldn't cut, but he could choose the scissors and help with the tape," Fish said.
Don't forget the photos!
While you are having all this fun decking the halls, don't forget to break out the camera and capture the memories. Not only will the photos serve to remind you of all the fun you had decorating with your children when they were just little, but you will also have photos that can make great gifts later on (or even be used for a decorating through the years holiday display!).