Lasting Christmas Memories for Toddlers
December provides an opportunity to create lasting memories of the family enjoying experiences together. It’s also an opportunity to give to others. With some thoughtful effort, even young children can learn the joy of sharing and giving.
The first step in creating lasting memories is to make time and space for family activities. Slow down and enjoy some meaningful time together at home.
The giving part of Christmas can be reinforced with tokens that your toddler can treasure. The concept of sacrificing a treasure is not yet within a toddler’s grasp, but sharing a gift while enjoying a gift can open your toddler’s mind to the pleasure that others feel when they receive a gift.
Here are a few ideas to help make a toddler’s Christmas meaningful.
Give your house a warm, smell-good appeal and make some special, at-home memories.
- Create Christmas fragrance with naturally-growing pine tree branches and pine cone pieces, sweet-smelling Christmas treats in the oven, or a holiday candle. Then create some special at-home memories that you can build on each year.
- Identify special family evenings of Christmas celebration—read a favorite holiday book, share memories of favorite Christmas moments, exchange ideas about best family outings of the year.
- Watch a holiday movie together.
- Arrange an at-home meal with dress-up appeal. Make it an occasion that highlights every family member’s favorite dish with background Christmas music and the ambience of beautiful Christmas décor.
Discover the art of gift-making together.
Get beyond the “stuff” that comes out of a factory. Too often children define the quality of Christmas by the number of gifts they get from a local department store. Teach children that family gift giving can come from the effort of making gifts together.
- Let your toddler participate in the experience of making personal cards for family and friends. Make sure each child receives a special card and message from you as well.
- Make a collage of pictures with your toddler that are taken over time. Let children know that you are taking special pictures of them that you will treasure. Include your toddler when you glue a collage of pictures that the family will enjoy as part of the holiday décor.
Give your child a token that reminds her of a family giving event.
- Give your child a stuffed animal to remember the giving event. Each time your child snuggles with the stuffed animal, he can remember the joy of helping a family in need.
- Purchase two identical gifts for a pre-Christmas celebration. Deliver one gift to a donation center for a family in need and let your child accompany you as you make the delivery. Be sure to talk about how much fun it will be for the child to open her gift. Then allow your child to keep the duplicate gift as a memory of the occasion of giving to another child.
- Make a treat for a neighbor as a service opportunity. Get your child an apron and some child-sized kitchen materials. Then allow your child to make some home-baked cookies with you and deliver them to a neighbor. This sharing time with your child combines the fun of baking together and giving to others. The baking accessories can serve as a reminder of the joy of making treats for others.