Sunday, December 1, 2013

10 Old-Time Christmas Skills to Teach Your Kids

With Christmas just around the corner, there is no end to the commercialism surrounding the holiday.  Years and years ago there were quite a few skills that went into making a happy holiday season.  These days, all you have to do is open your wallet and "ta da", instant Christmas.  Make an effort this holiday season to create lasting holiday memories with your kids (and surreptitiously teach them some useful survival skills in the process).

  1. Cut down your own Christmas tree.  This can be done easily at u-cut Christmas tree places or cheaply with a permit to cut on public lands.  Skills learned: how to use a saw, how to secure your load to your vehicle, how to pick a "good" tree, how to navigate the permit process if you go this route, how to find the location of where you will cut your tree.
  2. Have the kids decorate the tree using non-store bought products.  Skills learned: how to glean natural products to use for decorations, creativity, how to research (they can figure out how people decorated trees prior to store bought decorations being available).
  3. Do your own baking for the holiday season.  Bake pies and cookies, make candy, etc.  Skills learned: how to bake and cook (a useful skill that will last them their entire lives).
  4. Decorate your house for the holidays.  Skills learned: how to safely use a ladder, how to safely hang Christmas lights, how electricity works in regards to Christmas lights.
  5. Make your own Christmas cards.  Take the kids out to photograph some Christmas-y scenes and make your own cards on your home computer.  Skills learned: how to be creative, how to use a computer/Photoshop/printer/etc, how to address envelopes, how to find addresses that you may need.
  6. Make a Christmas dinner and invite friends and family.  Skills learned: how to shop for ingredients, how to use coupons and shop sales, how to plan food needs based on the number of people attending, how to cook, how to invite people to a dinner, how to work collectively with the family to pull off a big event.
  7. Make your own Christmas stockings.  Skills learned: creativity, how to sew, how to make/use a pattern, how to buy fabric.
  8. Volunteer or donate to help the less fortunate.  Skills learned: how to help others in need, how to perform various jobs (sorting canned goods at a food pantry/serving a meal at a homeless shelter/etc), how to interact with people who are usually marginalized in the community.
  9. Attend a holiday religious service that is different from your own religion.  Skills learned: how to be open minded, how to learn about different religions, how to be respectful of other people's beliefs even if they are different than your own.
  10. Let the kids choose a new holiday tradition, plan it out, etc.  This may include looking at Christmas lights around the city, Christmas caroling at nursing homes, setting up a movie night to watch "It's a Wonderful Life", etc.  Skills learned: how to plan an event, how to research, how to use a map to find the most efficient route to look at lights, how to contact a nursing home and arrange a time for Christmas caroling.
I love to see kids learning how to actually DO things.  Anyone can drop money at a store and end up with a reasonable facsimile of the holiday season but this precludes kids from working with others to accomplish a goal, learning valuable skills, developing their creativity, and most importantly, keeping busy (on projects that don't involve a computer or iPad).  This holiday season make an effort to instill the spirit of the season in your family.

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