Like most Americans, our house is drowning in toys, our dresser drawers are overflowing with clothes, and our pantry is bursting with food (until the kids get home from school and raid it!). We are blessed with more than we could ever need, so this holiday we're working even harder to take the focus off of "stuff" and put it on making memories with people.
Looking back on my favorite holiday memories growing up, not one of them revolves around a specific Christmas gift. All of my favorite memories are of spending time with my family and doing things for others. So, why is it that American families spent an average of $800 per family on Christmas gifts last year? Why are we racing around the day after Thanksgiving hunting for deals? Do we really need an elf to bring gifts each day or an advent of new books and movies? Do we really need all this "stuff"? This year, we're making lasting memories with each other doing some of the things that I did as a kid - and hopefully, we'll bring some joy to those around us as well.
Here are 10 Ways to Make Treasured Holiday Memories with your Children:
1. Bake Cookies to Take to a Neighbor.
2. Load the kids in their pajamas with travel mugs of cocoa and drive around to see the lights.
3. Make Christmas Cards and Deliver them to a local nursing home. Bonus Points if you can sing a few carols!
4. Pack a Shoebox for Operation Christmas Child. - My kids love doing this every year. I save the unused toys from birthday goodie bags and holiday treat bags and then we round them out with school supplies, toothbrushes, and some candy.
5. Buy a New Toy and Deliver it to Toys for Tots or adopt a family through a local organization. Making shopping for these gifts a family affair and help the kids to see that not everyone is as fortunate as they are.
6. Gather gently used toys and clothes that your children have outgrown and donate them to a local community mission.
7. Make homemade ornaments for the grandparents.
8. Invite some friends over for board games and desserts. Make it simple by having everyone bring a dessert to share. Instead of a White Elephant exchange, invite friends to bring wipes and diapers to deliver to a local crisis pregnancy center.
9. Take a Meal to Someone in Need - When my husband and I were first married, our church hosted a huge Turkey Box initiative and packed hundreds of boxes for area families in need of a holiday meal. It was such a joy to participate with packing and delivering those boxes. Even if you can't take part in a huge project like this with your kids, you can always gather canned and boxed foods for the Boy Scouts' Scouting for Food initiative or just to donate to your local shelter. You can also simply fix an extra plate on Thanksgiving or Christmas and hand-deliver it to someone who needs it. The company and the food are sure to be greatly appreciated!
10. Camp out beside the Christmas tree for Family Movie Nights. Be sure to include special snacks and watch some of their favorites like Polar Express and Charlie Brown Christmas!
I am beyond thankful to have a house FULL of family and love. My greatest hope is that our children's most treasured memories involve the time that we spent together as a family!
New York Life is celebrating the holidays this year with their Keep Good Going campaign that will provide meals to Feeding America.
You can help:
1. Visit the New York Life website and share a photo of your favorite holiday tradition or memory.
2. Tweet your own holiday tradition or memory using the hashtags #KeepGoodGoing and #FeedingAMillion. Each tweet with the two hashtags will trigger a donation of 25 meals from New York Life to Feeding America.
New York Life is also helping YOU celebrate by giving away one $50 VISA Gift Card to a lucky reader and making a $50 donation on behalf of BlogHer in the winner’s name to Feeding America. To enter simply leave a comment and share what you are thankful for this holiday season.
*Through 1/9/15, New York Life will donate $2.50 for each approved post, with a minimum of $25K & a maximum of $100K. See full terms and conditions at NewYorkLife.com/CelebratingGood. Find info about Feeding America at feedingamerica.org.
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