Pre-Christmas Excitement

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It's the week before Christmas, and if you're like me, you still have 101 one things to do this week. But if your kids are anything like mine, they're going just a little bit nuts with excitement and don't quite know what to do with themselves.

Maybe you could fit in a trip to the library. Fresh books are always welcome at my house. The Christmas break is also a great time to listen to some just-for-fun audio books. Our library has DVDs and video games for check-out, and though I don't really want my kids in front of a screen for hours on end, those are fun diversions for a short period.

I remember one year when I was a little girl, my mother was doing a lot of sewing for Christmas. We needed to stay out of her bedroom where she was working, but it was oh-so-hard to keep ourselves occupied. A friend of hers brought us an early Christmas gift that week. She had a giant coloring book and a small box of brand-new crayons for each of us. She hadn't spent much but we thought that was just wonderful. I remember sitting around the dining table with my siblings happily coloring away for hours on end. Now, as a mom, I suspect my memories aren't quite the same as the reality, but I do know my mother was very appreciative of her friend's thoughtfulness. Perhaps your children would enjoy a Christmas coloring book with some new crayons to keep their hands busy while they listen to Christmas music or audio books from the library this week?

Another year, my mother presented us with a big package of construction paper, several tubes of glitter, glue, and scissors. Oh, the lovely mess we made creating "beautiful" paper ornaments for the Christmas tree. We were so proud of our creations, and my mother actually saved them and re-used them the next year... and the next... and the next... until we got old enough to be embarrassed by them and made her stop.

A tradition we had when my children were little was to keep their Christmas story books and videos in a basket under the Christmas tree. After Christmas, when the seasonal decor was packed away so were the holiday books and movies. The next year, when it was time to put up the Christmas tree, they were happy to re-discover the Christmas stories from the previous year. We also tried to add to the basket each year. That gave them something "new" to do during the "endless" wait for Christmas to get here.

And, of course, kids always love to help with the Christmas baking-- especially making and decorating cookies with cookie cutters. (There's a great recipe on page 150 of Sonlight Cooks-- which just happens to be on sale right now and would make a great last-minute gift!) One kid-friendly option my mother-in-law taught me was to make "egg paint"--raw eggs colored with food coloring--to paint the cookies with before baking. No frosting necessary!

How do you keep your children occupied as they wait for Christmas?

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