There’s a chill in the air and the daylight hours are getting shorter, which means the holidays are fast approaching. Pretty soon you’ll drive by a house lit up with Christmas lights and see Christmas trees for sale in store parking lots. You’ll start planning holiday dinners, putting up Christmas decorations, and scouring advertisements for the best deals (pssst, don’t forget to check our website). You’ll even make lists of what activities and traditions you want to do as a family because, after all, the best holidays are filled with anticipation and fun. Whether you’re looking to create new holiday traditions or are looking forward to your favorites, we have some great ideas for ways to build excitement and anticipation for the holiday season!
1. Adopt an Elf on the Shelf
“You better watch out / you better not cry / you better not pout / I’m telling you why…”
–“Santa Claus is Coming to Town” (Fred Coots & Haven Gillespie)
Ever wondered how Santa knows if children are naughty or nice? He has his own little helpers, of course! Santa lets families adopt special elves every year to help him know which children need to go on the naughty and nice lists. When an elf is adopted by a family and given a name, the elf gains special Christmas magic that helps it fly to the North Pole every night to give Santa a daily report on the kids’ behavior. The elf then returns to its family and moves to a different observation spot each morning.
There are a couple rules every family must know when they adopt an elf:
- They may only touch the elf when absolutely necessary because the elf may lose its magic if it is touched.
- The elf will not speak, leave, or move until everyone in the house is asleep.
Adopted elves usually appear in homes at the beginning of the holiday season and then return to the North Pole on Christmas Eve until the start of next year’s holiday season. A timeless holiday classic, the Elf on the Shelf and its crazy antics will help fill your household with delight and laughter this holiday season.
2. Count Down to the Holidays!
Build excitement for the holidays and help your children learn and develop skills with LEGO® Advent Calendars. Each 2013 holiday advent calendar comes with 24 gifts and objects in individual compartments, which allows children to open and build a new item each day until Christmas. LEGO® Advent Calendars help children learn about the holidays and increase their manual dexterity, creativity, and problem solving skills. These calendars are also fun ways to spend time as a family during the holidays.
LEGO® City Advent Calendar
Perfect for children ages 5 years & up, LEGO® City Advent Calendar features opening windows that include 24 buildable gifts, such as a Christmas tree, sled, fireplace, snowman, and 8 minifigures.
LEGO® Star Wars™ Advent Calendar
Find your inner Jedi with the LEGO® Star Wars™ Advent Calendar. Perfect for Star Wars fans, it features 24 Star Wars™ themed gifts, such as Dooku’s Solar Sailer, Cloud car, Attack cruiser, 6 minifigures, 3 droids, and much more!
LEGO® Friends Advent Calendar
Build decorations and prepare for the holidays in Heartlake City with the LEGO® Friends Advent Calendar. This set includes Stephanie and Lily minifigures and a calendar with 24 buildable gifts, such as Stephanie’s snow scooter, a Christmas tree, snowman, ice skates, and sled.
Our popular LEGO® Building Plates can also help bring your advent calendar to life by allowing you to create, organize, and store your advent calendar gifts as you build them.
3. Have a Holiday Reading Tradition
Get your family in the holiday spirit by reading holiday books, which is also a great way to build children’s literacy skills and interest in reading. This is an activity that the whole family can enjoy due to the fond memories holiday stories invoke. If you have young children, try to read them a holiday story at bedtime each night. If the children in your family are older, however, have everyone pick out their favorite holiday stories and either take turns reading them or have a designated holiday story reader. We recommend The Polar Express and The Twelve Days of Christmas as two great books to include in your holiday reading.
The Family Reading Partnership also has some fun ideas for holiday reading traditions:
- Plan a family trip to the library to check out books to read at Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Christmas.
- If you don’t have a collection of holiday and winter books, start a collection of them for all ages. Enjoy them during the holiday season, but then put them away in a special container until next year.
- Listen to a holiday audio book while you are baking cookies or decorating the tree.
For more holiday reading traditions and book suggestions, check out the Family Reading Partnership’s e-brochure on holiday reading. Another great resource is readkiddoread.com, which is author James Patterson’s non-profit website that promotes literacy and helps parents find ways to encourage their children to read.
4. Make Creative, Delicious Treats
Many holiday traditions are tied to food or the preparation of food. Perhaps your family serves a particular meal or side dish every year at Thanksgiving or Christmas, for example, or your whole family congregates at one person’s house to fix Christmas Eve dinner. Whatever your holiday food traditions are, be sure that your traditions include foods and recipes that children can appreciate and help prepare. You can even incorporate a math lesson into the festivities by having kids count candies or measure ingredients!
Children love making gingerbread houses and baking and decorating cookies at this time of the year, so try to schedule a weekend for the family to make some holiday treats. If you like the idea of making a gingerbread house but don’t want to go to the trouble of actually making the gingerbread, try our Candy Cottage Party Pack. It includes a 4-pack of re-usable plastic gingerbread houses that your family can decorate for Christmas, Halloween, or any another occasion. All you need is some icing, candy, and cereal to start decorating them with after you snap the pieces together.
Baking and decorating cookies is also a fun holiday tradition that you and your kids can do together. Your family could even participate in a cookie swap with other families in your neighborhood as another fun holiday activity. Remember that cookies don’t necessarily have to be homemade for kids to enjoy decorating them, especially if you have time constraints on the activities you can do as a family. Just be sure to make some cookies you can leave out for Santa!
If someone in your family is diabetic or allergic to an ingredient used to make cookies or gingerbread, you can still enjoy the favorite sweet treats of the holiday season. Our Counting Cookies™ Jar and Gingerbread Sort and Snap Cookies can help you spend time as a family and help kids learn to count, recognize colors and patterns, and develop fine motor skills.
5. Decorate Your Space for the Holidays
Decorating for the holidays is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the holiday season. Most people love decorating their Christmas tree or setting up a holiday display in their front yard, but many of those decorations aren’t very kid friendly. Be sure your kids are included in the decorating stage of the holidays by having them either pick out decorations or make their own homemade decorations.
One decorating idea is to buy or make a holiday ornament for each child to put on your Christmas tree every year. You can also have them trace their hand to create the outline of a turkey, which they can then color and decorate. Another easy craft for children is to draw or cut out a snowflake design and then color and decorate it with glitter. Crafts like these are great for children to do while on break from school or when they have to stay indoors due to bad weather. Be sure to check out our Art section for all of your art and craft needs!