Today is Day 1 of my five day series on giving the ones you love your presence and not just presents. If you missed my intro to the series, you can read more here. I know it's not even Thanksgiving yet, and we are seeing the sights of Christmas everywhere! In my home, we wait until after Thanksgiving to start decking the halls.
Thankfully there are so many wonderful free opportunities to enjoy one another as you soak in the sights and sounds of the season around your town. Here are our top five activities to make the most of the holidays:
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1. Christmas Lights and Hot Cocoa
Our absolute favorite thing to do is to get a cup of hot cocoa, bundle up in the car (if it's cold enough in Texas), and go drive around to look at lights. There are several neighborhoods around our home that unite forces to really put on spectacular light displays. Even though we are not gifted in the lighting of our own house, we are always amazed by the works of art displayed around Christmas time. With a cup of hot cocoa and a good Christmas CD like the Pentatonix: That's Christmas to Me or Chris Tomlin's new Christmas CD: Adore: Christmas Songs of Worship, you can enjoy the beauty of Christmas in the comfort of your car! (I'll be giving away a copy of Chris Tomlin's CD in the next couple of weeks...check back to enter to win).
Wrap it up: If you're worried about the unwrapping fun, you can wrap a box of hot cocoa for someone to unwrap. I give wrapped presents sometimes, but I also just build the excitement with gift cards that announce the gift of "presence" for the day. I found my kids were just as eager to open the card without a physical present. The kids would alternate who would be the opener that day, and I would make sure to alternate my physical gifts among the kids.
2. Star Gazing
The wise men found the new born King by searching the stars. If you're like me, driving outside of the city limits a ways might be required to enjoy the beauty of the night sky. Although you might not know how to identify the patterns in the stars like the wise men, there are many wonderful books around that enlighten us to the mysteries of the stars. Check out some of these as a great reference:
- The Stargazer's Guide to the Night Sky
- National Geographic Backyard Guide to the Night Sky
- DK: The Night Sky Month by Month
Wrap it up: Books always make a great gift. If you're on a budget, go check your local resale store and see what resources they might have, or get a book from the library to wrap. Why not?!
3. Go Caroling
Invite some friends over and go around the neighborhood sharing Christmas cheer with carols. You don't have to be amazing singers to enjoy a good Christmas song. Just like Elf says, "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is to sing loud for all to hear!"
Wrap it up: Print off carol sheets and tie them with ribbons to wrap in a box.
4. Visit a Christmas Tree Farm
Whether you're a live tree person or not, the sights and smells of pine trees will be fun for all. Find a tree farm near you. Often they have other holiday activities on the property for free, and you can enjoy the fun while offering wonderful opportunities to take that Christmas family photo for your holiday card.
Wrap it up: Wrap some pine cones, or print a picture of the tree farm to wrap. It doesn't have to be fancy.
5. Volunteer Together
I don't think there is anything that brings a family together quite like serving together. I also don't think there's anything that makes you realize how much you have than seeing those who don't have anything. There are many ways you can serve together as a family. Volunteer at a local food pantry or soup kitchen. Visit a nearby nursing home and sing carols to the elderly, or just sit and talk with them. Make this something you begin at Christmas and carry on throughout the year.
Wrap it up: Wrap some canned goods and watch their faces fill with surprise and curiosity at the unorthodox gift. It's great opportunity to remind your kids of all the gifts we enjoy every day that we take for granted.
When you take some time to soak in the season of Christmas, it makes all of the hustle and bustle fade away and the true gifts come to light - time with the ones you love!
What are some of your family's favorite ways to soak in the season?
Check back in tomorrow for Day 2 of my 5 Days of Christmas Presence (not Presents)
Day 1: Soaking in the Season
Be sure to check out the other great posts from iHN bloggers at iHomeschool Network.
Betsy Strauss is an unexpected homeschooler, mother of three, who is in a relationship with a sweet man for life. She loves reading books, drinking coffee, and learning anything with her kids.