Christmas always brings warm feelings to my heart. No matter how busy I am and no matter I "decide" sometime in August that I won't be as affected with the Christmas rush, there's always some kind of a switch that automatically turns on inside of me come November. Besides, me and my husband can't help it - we have a daughter who loves Christmas and we can't of course disappoint her by being Mr. and Mrs. Scrooge of the year.
So anyway, I am still in the will-not-be-as-stressed-mood-for-Christmas this year, but I'm gonna have to give in with regards to making the holidays fun and memorable for our daughter.
Which brings me to want to help you parents out there who are looking for activities with your children which will not put a hole in your pockets. Here are some suggestions we've tried and might do again this year.
1. Start a Christmas Tradition. There a lot of interesting traditions out there but ours include the following:
a. Decorating the house by early November. We make sure we don't spend too much on decors. In fact, most of the decors we are using now were the same batch we bought around 3 years ago. I just try to give variety in the manner we decorate and in the color combinations. Last year I placed garlands with red and silver balls and poinsettias outside our gate and fence. This year I opted to let the gate and fence go bare but instead I placed a garland on our window with blue and silver balls. We also didn't put up our usual Christmas tree but placed 3 times more Christmas lights instead this year outside the house. Our Christmas village, which is an investment, since each Christmas house costs quite an amount have rested for a couple of years but this time we put them out to be displayed and enjoyed.
2. Let the Three Wise Men Travel. We do have a Belen, but the three wise men figures aren't there yet. From November till the morning of December 24, we make them travel by putting them around the house - on the stairs, under the dining table, on the kitchen, to make them look like they're still finding their way to the manger. As Christmas Day approaches, we place them nearer and nearer to the site of our Belen. On Christmas Eve, that's the time we let them make it to baby Jesus's side.
3. Display our Christmas books. One of the things we've collected over the years are Christmas books I've bought from Book Sales. Most of them cost as low as P20, while the most expensive is around P175. Aliya and I love reading those stories and looking at the pictures.
4. Visit the Christmas House. Every year, my daughter's school holds their Christmas program/Family Day in a mall in the east. Nearby is the subdivision with the famous Christmas house, called as such because of the lights that adorn it as well as their gigantic Santa figures. This year, we plan to visit it again after the Family Day with one of my daughter's best friend's family.
5. Visit the Casa Santa. Located in Antipolo City, Rizal, this house is full of the owner's collection of Santa Clauses of all shapes, sizes and kinds. I think they're open all year round but you have to call up first for an appointment in case you want to visit and have a photoshoot there. It's quite off the Metro so I suggest dropping by on a Sunday to avoid the usual Ortigas Ave Extension traffic.
5. Make Christmas crafts. Pinterest and youtube have a lot of wonderful ideas you can make with your kids.
6. DIY decors, cards and wrappers. A lot of age-appropriate suggestions can be found online.
7. To teach the value of sharing and generosity, why not declutter your closet and give away/donate old clothes, toys and books. You'd be amazed at how much stuff you actually have.
8. Read the Christmas Story. To remind our children what Christmas really is about, this one is strongly, highly suggested. Besides, it's the best story ever!