Excited Kids: Christmas Eve Sanity Tips!

Excited Kids: Christmas Eve Sanity Tips!

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We’ve seen it in our own household and have heard stories from family members, friends and an assortment of other people who have experienced a similar dilemma: how to keep excited kids from driving you, themselves and everyone else nuts on Christmas Eve!

Certainly, there is something “special” about young children waiting in anticipation of Christmas morning, beholding the gifts underneath the Christmas tree. Memorable moments such as these have been captured in Norman Rockwell paintings, in the lenses of many a Kodak or Polaroid camera and, today, through camera phones, camcorders and other video recording devices.

But, Christmas Eve itself can be a dreadful day for the youngest celebrators as the minutes can seem like hours for hyped up tots who may not fully understand the meaning of waiting.

Rather than having a miserable time of it on the day before Christmas, the following are some tried and true options used by parents who know that the wait need not be an absolute dread:

One Present – One way to keep youngsters occupied is to allow them to open up one present on Christmas Eve. Whether done in the morning, afternoon or evening, you’ll give your children something to do as they wait. Mary L. of Pembroke, MA said, “We’ve found it best to have them open just one present after lunch – if you wait until evening, you may never get them to sleep!”

Go Play! – Unless you’re being socked in by a blizzard, there is no reason why children can’t burn off some energy by spending part of the day outside. Allow them to socialize with other kids in the neighborhood by taking in sledding, ice skating or building a snow man. No snow? No problem – kids always find a way to come up with one imaginative game after another. Have the hot cocoa at the ready!

Church Service – Plenty of churches have late afternoon services on Christmas Eve, with a typical starting time of 4 o’clock. These youth-oriented services allow kids to participate, offering them a chance to sing their favorite carols off-key and hear the story of our Savior’s birth. When the service is over, you can head home for dinner or take advantage of the opportunity to see some lights before finishing up for the evening. Guaranteed, most small children will be worn out by the early evening, giving parents the chance to spend time with each other.

Make Visits – Do you have a friend or family member who cannot get out for Christmas? Nursing homes have some of the loneliest people in the world with some homes welcoming people from the community even if they don’t know a resident. Have your children color a picture or bring with them an ornament to offer some homemade Christmas cheer. Said Angela P. of Dana Point, CA, “We’ve taken our teenagers to the sick kid’s ward at the county hospital where they got to read stories to the patients, some of whom were as young as 6. Our teens can handle the hospital visit, but our youngest loves all the attention he gets at the nursing home.”

Story Time – Reading a “Visit From St. Nick” can be one way to keep your youngster’s attention as can reading a child’s version of Luke chapter 2, the nativity story. Also, older kids can keep younger kids occupied by playing board games or other activities. “We have two Christmas trees in our house,” said Barbara W. of Ridgewood, NJ. “We decorate our artificial tree right after Thanksgiving and save the second tree, a fresh cut Fraser Fir, for Christmas Eve. We string popcorn and cranberries and our children hang decorations they made at school, at church and at home. A great way for the little ones to take part in a family event and keep them focused.”

Now as far as keeping your kids busy for the entire Christmas break, we’ll leave that up to you! Merry Christmas and a Happy 2011 from your SayEducate team.

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