Friday, November 16, 2012

Christmas List Making with Kids: 5 Tips for Every Family

In case you aren't aware, November is here.   Pretty soon we’ll be hearing those sleigh bells ringing “ding ding” just about all day on the radio.  The “wish books” have been stuffed into your mailbox, and just about every commercial is currently trying to convince your kids they just have to own something.   

With all the Christmas craziness, kids can lose sight of what they want and need.  They start asking for just about everything and anything regardless of whether it's a carrot slicer or a container of Oxyclean.

To help cure the madness, or at least organize the madness, I've developed a go-to system for Christmas wishing.

It all begins with our elf, and "the list."  

Here is my step by step Christmas List making survival guide.

1. Adopt an Elf

We have an Elf, Stanley.  He arrives every Thanksgiving to watch over the my munchkins and fly reports back to Santa.  Stanley is a fabulous helper during the Christmas season.  He can carry all correspondance back and forth, such as good behavior news and Christmas lists tweaks.

No more  "How will Santa know!  I already sent my list! Waaaaaaaa!"

If you don't have your very own "Elf on the Shelf," and you are a big Christmas family like we are, I would recommend adopting one pronto.  Our Elf brings little surprises like stickers and candies every few days, and the kids leave letters for him to bring to Santa.  They ask about the reindeer, the present making and all other happenings in the North Pole.

Yes, I'm aware some of my kids may need therapy to come to terms with the inevitable news that is to come when they are about ten.  Or eleven.  Or maybe never with how this house operates. 

Regardless, Christmas is magic.  Kids are kids.  And only when we are kids do we get to believe in magic.  

2. Save Magazines for "Wishing"

In our house, Christmas wishes all go on a Christmas list.  We make them the week before Thanksgiving, and we leave all of them for Stanley to bring back to Santa.

Every one of my munchkins combs all the "wish books" that come in the mail.  I stash the Target , Toys R Us Big Book, NFL Shop and Justice magazines in a basket in the family room.  My kids looks through them, marking what they like with their initials.  They wish and wish and wish.  

When I'm in the middle of dinner, and I need quiet, and tell them to "go wish."  Literally.  It's used as often as "play outside" and "go read your books."  Wishing is as serious as a heart attack in our house.

When it's time to look through the magazines, there are so many marks and circles it's tough to know who wanted the Green Machine and who wanted the Barbie dollhouse.

3.  Make Lists as a Family

When we sit down to make the lists the kids look through each magazine and pick twenty things they marked.  Of those twenty, they have to star their "top five."

We star gifts because I explain to them that Santa has to bring presents to millions of kids.  We have to remember that we are not the only children with big wishes on Christmas.  If Santa looks at your list quick, and decides to bring you ten gifts, you want him to know what you want the most.  

4. When Needed, Cut and Paste Lists

When my first born was just about three, I started our list making tradition.  Trying to help him write each letter was just about as enjoyable as sticking needles in my eyes.  I quickly solved the problem with the cut and paste Christmas list.  We clipped what he wanted, and pasted it on his list.

Viola.  A detailed list in half the time, maybe a quarter of the time it would have taken to help him write one.  Another bonus?  Fun, easy practice cutting and pasting.

5.  Remember Charity, and Stress the Importance of Giving 

Most importantly, talk about charity, and how to give at Christmas.  The "I want, I want, I want" is normal, but it's important to balance the "I want's" with "What can we do to help_____?"

Volunteer at a soup kitchen.  Sponsor a family.  Have your kids donate a few new toys to Toys for Tots.  If you are religious, discuss the true meaning of Christmas.  Read books about the birth of Jesus.  

We have our cherished Nativity Scene, and every year the kids can't wait to put baby Jesus in the manger on Christmas Eve.

Remember to make giving a focus of your holiday, while letting your kids "wish" til' their little hearts are content.  There is not only magic in Christmas, but valuable lessons about life as well.

Happy weekend everyone - time to grab an elf and make some Christmas lists!!


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