If you have young children at home, you know how they look forward to Christmas or Chanukah. If the holidays leave family members disappointed or out of sorts, perhaps planning ahead could help.
Children love having family activities, and they cling to traditions the family has created. Making a calendar weeks ahead of time allows the most important family doings to claim their rightful place in the hectic holiday season. Then as the inevitable activites promoting other peoples’ priorities pop up, you can check your calendar and say “No Thanks” to some of them before they steal your time with the children.
The traditions and activites that your kids love may not be the ones you think of. Ask them what they like about the holidays – you may be pleasantly surprised that their answers are not all about opening presents. Make plans for fulfilling things the kids really want, then add a few activites you think they should experience. All the while, try not to overload the calendar – unexpected demands on your time will occur!
Childrens’ disappointment in the holidays often has its origin in the long wait for Christmas to arrive followed by an abrupt return to everyday life after gifts have been unwrapped. This reflects the Christmas retail selling season, which starts as soon as the merchants dare, then vanishes suddenly in a couple of days of half-price sales. Your calendar can reflect a different plan: a shorter time leading up to the holiday, and a few fun activities worked into the week after the holiday.
Here are some tips that other parents have used to garnish their childrens’ holidays with happy memories.
Mark a week or two off the calendar when you will accept no invitations to adults-only parties.
A two week build up to the holiday is plenty of time for young children to wait. Hold off on playing Christmas music or decorating the house until then.
Draw pictures on a calendar to show when you will put up the tree, when Grandma and Grandpa will visit, and so forth. Have it where the kids can study it. Save it for next year so you will remember what you did and when. Children feel secure when celebrations follow the same pattern from year to year.
Be low key in your reaction to early holiday ads on TV and store decorations that appear shortly after Halloween. If you are making early holiday preparations for home or work, say as little as possible about it. 
Don’t be bashful about telling children what they can expect in the way of presents – big or small, and about how many. When confronted with pleas for the latest things advertised on TV, don’t say “Maybe” when the true answer is No.
Think about holidays from your childhood and tell your kids about them. It may help them understand what holidays are about.
Almost everybody likes homemade holiday cookies. Instead of baking batches of different cookies, what about making one big batch and having a cookie exchange with friends who have done the same? Another idea is for several friends to share one kitchen and part of a day turning out home baked treats for all to enjoy.
If holiday-related stress is haunting you or if you just enjoy good cheer at parties, be aware of your consumption of alcohol and put a limit on it. You will have many holidays in the future when you can enjoy beverages to your heart’s content. Then you will be able to look back to the years when your children were young and realize you respected their holiday dreams by using alcohol with restraint.
Take a piece of thick decorative yarn, fold double and tie loose knots in it, one for each day remaining until the holiday. Make a little ceremony of having the kids untie one knot each day.

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