In the run up to Christmas, my thoughts always turn to when my adult children were little. I like to think that my children had a happy, healthy childhood that they look back on with fond memories. They often tell me that they remember the fun we used to have together. And that, I think, is the key to having happy festive memories. They never, ever tell me how thrilled they were to get the latest gadgets, or how pleased they were that they had just as many gifts as their friends. Nope, they remember the fun times we had.
I must admit, even if I had been fortunate enough to have a bottomless bank account, I’m not sure that I would have indulged my children too much. I firmly believe that a child not receiving everything on their Christmas list can actually have a positive effect. After all, if we get everything we ask for in life at a young age what is there left to strive for? To dream of? I always remember the smile on my daughter’s face when she bought her very first purchase with pocket money she had earned and saved.
Now I’m not saying that my children went without, or that we shouldn’t shower gifts on the little ones in our lives. But how about showering them with gifts that cost very little/nothing, and will live in their hearts long after that toy has been discarded and is gathering dust in the attic?
Go to the pantomime. Oh no you won’t! Oh yes I will! If you’re keeping costs down look for an amateur performance.
Get up super early and have breakfast in the car watching the sunrise.
Make a scrapbook together – these make great gifts.
Have a sort out of their old toys, etc and donate them to charity.
Let them take pics on each day leading up to Christmas, print them out and display them as an advent calendar.
Give them a few pounds and see what they buy from a charity shop (thrift store).
Make Christmas cards.
Make paper aeroplanes and see which one flies the furthest.
Look at some easy magic tricks online and try to learn them together.
When you know a few put on a magic trick together for relatives.
Make hot chocolate with all the trimmings.
Watch Christmas films together.
Make a mini movie and send it to your friends and relatives instead of Christmas cards.
Wrap up warm and go play in a playground together.
Fly a kite.
Learn to juggle. (Watch your light fittings. Yep, I’ve broken a few).
Write a letter together for a member of your family that you don’t see as often as you would like.
Buy a penny whistle and drive the neighbours crazy for an hour. Only one hour mind 😇
Play card games together.
Make your own Christmas decorations.
Sit in a busy cafe and make up imaginary lives for the people who visit it.
Pay a visit to family/friends.
Go to an indoor swimming pool.
Crack out the finger paints and paint up a storm.
Make your own Play Dough.
Get some fabric glitter and decorate an old Tee for Christmas day.
Search online for some simple science experiments and try them out at home.
Play Christmas music and dance around the house together.
Go for a walk. It’s amazing how many children have never taken a walk around their own neighbourhood.
Write a short play and perform it together for your family.
Go for a walk in the rain and splash in the puddles.
Play dress up. This works really well if you each dress up as family members and try to guess who you all are.
Take the car through a car wash. I had forgotten how much fun this is until I did it myself the other day.
Love them, hug them and cherish them because, before you know it, these precious days of childhood will be gone.
I hope this list of 50 ways to make your child smile has given you a bit of inspiration. No matter what you get up to with your children, have fun and go make some memories!
50 Ways To Make Your Child Smile This Christmas
- Make a fort/castle/cave out of old cardboard boxes or blankets. This used to keep my children occupied for hours!
- Write a Christmas story together.
- Take a ride around the neighbourhood and find your favourite festively decorated house. (This works best in the evening when the lights are twinkling).
- Wrap up really warm and have a sunset picnic at the beach or park.
- Break out the board games.
- Take a trip to a museum. A lot of them have special exhibits at Christmas time.
- Have a good old-fashioned game of hide and seek.
- Get some face paints and paint each other’s faces.
- Have a (gentle) pillow fight.
- Rent a family DVD and make your own popcorn.
- Bake a cake together. Don’t forget to lick the spoon!
- Hide individually wrapped sweets around the house and make a treasure hunt. (Don’t forget where you’ve hidden them all otherwise the Summer will arrive and you’ll find melted chocolate in the hem of your curtains – yep, I’ve done that!).
- Make a free blog about your family Christmas and add to it each year.
- Take a trip to the library. A lot of them special events at Christmas.
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