This year I propose that we all get together and plot to completely ruin our kids’ holidays.
Unplug their devices, get them moving, singing and being creative.
They’ll hate it!
At least at first. They might declare this the worst holiday season of all time. Until they don’t, because pretty soon they’ll get caught up in the contagious spirit of magic and wonder and one day, they’ll look back at the memories and declare this the best Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa of all time.
Want to really tick your kids off? Here’s how to give them the worst/best holiday ever:
Don’t buy the “must-have” toy of the century—that one that lights up and makes a ton of noise and needs 15 batteries and is from that movie. Instead, get them an old fashioned Easy-Bake oven and a real microscope and encourage them to stir, to explore, to experiment, to mix up and observe, to taste and to try.
Turn off the afternoon TV and send their butts outside. Go on a nature walk, start a collection of interesting things they find along the way. Don’t worry about the weather. That’s what coats and boots are for.
Ban all the candy and processed holiday treats that come wrapped up in tacky packages and are filled with coloring and corn syrup. Cream together some butter and sugar. Toast the nuts. Make lots of homemade cookies and fudge together! Let the kids stir in the chocolate chips and lick batter from their fingers.
Take away their iPads at bedtime. Then surprise them with a nighttime ride around the neighborhood in their pajamas to look at holiday decorations.
Torture the young ones by playing nonstop holiday music in the car (this is revenge for all those years of Disney Princess Radio). Teach them all the words to as many festive songs you can think of and then go caroling. Make hot chocolate or mulled cider afterwards to warm up.
Have children choose five, gently used toys that they’ve outgrown or don’t play with to donate. Volunteer together. Visit a retirement home, an animal shelter or work for an afternoon in a community food bank or for an organization that delivers toys to needy children.
Cancel the elaborate, family photo shoot where everyone wears matching outfits so that you can have those perfect, personalized cards printed up. Set up an arts and crafts table and set aside an afternoon where the whole family can make homemade cards for their friends and loved ones instead. Get messy with glitter and glue and let them wear whatever they want.
Attend a candlelight service of some kind that reflects your culture or beliefs. You don’t need to be religious to do this. It’s all about giving children the experience of awe, beauty, reverence and quiet.
Announce to the family that you’re really tired this year so there will be no complicated, Feast of the Seven Fishes or similar holiday dinner. Sorry, kids. No calamari and eel this year. It’s pizza night! With (organic) root beer!
Totally embarrass your kids with your joy and enthusiasm for the holidays.
Take them on a really corny holiday scavenger hunt. Make a list ahead of time of common holiday sights (car with antlers, deflated yard snowman, someone in an ugly Christmas sweater, Nativity scene, Menorah in a window, frustrated shopper, toddler throwing a fit in a store—you get the idea. Then go on an adventure around town or your neighborhood checking items off the list.
End the scavenger hunt at a place that is special and exciting (a visit with Santa, a big light display, a dear relative or friend’s house, a favorite restaurant, whatever they love).
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Victoria Fedden
Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Erin Perry/Flickr