Continuing with my series on getting ready for the holidays, I’d like to share what my daughter and I have been up to as we get ready to welcome the holidays. As I’d mentioned earlier, our holiday season starts sometime late October, since we prepare for Diwali (the Indian festival of lights) and then, continues till Christmas and the New Year.
I like to involve my toddler in everything that’s associated with a festival or holiday and I know that I’ll have a royal mess to clean up later, but its so much fun that I don’t really mind! ***laughing*** Here are a few fun activities that we engage in to teach her about different festivals, their traditions and what makes them so special.
1. Cooking and Baking
Since I absolutely love baking and being in the kitchen, one of the first holiday activities we start with is making sweets and snacks for the holiday season. For Diwali, it is usually simple Indian sweets like besan ladoos( gramflour sweets) while for Christmas, she helps with making holiday cookies, Christmas cupcakes and yup, the fudge. She loves being in the kitchen and handing me the dry ingredients, helping with the mixing of flour and baking powder as well as tasting the batter. This year, am planning on letting her frost some of the cookies. Am sure she’ll love it!
With the fudge, since the mix is so hot, I just let her cut out shapes from the cooled mix using my only holiday-themed cookie cutter – a star. (It is also a shape she recognizes which makes her happier!)
Making holiday food with a toddler is a fun and simple way of teaching them about what’s coming up and why we’re making all this. I love talking about the Christmas story as we mix the dry fruit into the cake flour or about why Diwali is called the “festival of lights” as we roll the besan ladoos. At her age, she doesn’t really grasp a lot of detail but she loves to hear stories and does remember quite a bit.
2. Holiday-related Crafts
I’m not a very craft-type mom and so, rely mostly on ideas from others or very basic craft projects. This Diwali, we made cards for friends and family. Nothing fancy. I bought A4-size card paper and folded it in half. Then, I drew the most basic Diya (lamp) on it and gave my toddler cut-up pieces of colored paper to stick on. I also cut pieces of plain ribbon and had her glue them to the borders of the cards. Were the cards perfect? No, but she was thrilled and that’s what matters.
Really, she had a field day making cards for everyone and then, enjoyed handing them over as well as she wished everyone. I plan on repeating this simple yet fun activity with Christmas-themed cards as well.
3. Holiday Outings and Walks
With the holiday season, everything around us is festive – the shops and malls, clothes, places of worship and the houses. It is easy to point out and show a toddler how a home, temple or church is decorated or lit up, what the decorations signify and basically talk about the holiday.
4. Reading about the Holidays
Our love for books extends to the holiday season as well. Last year, I had the opportunity to review The Beginner’s Bible by Zonderkidz and my daughter loved it. In fact, it has remained one of her most favorite books through the year. This year, I’m planning to buy What is Christmas?, a lovely board book with rhyming text by Michelle Medlock Adams. I also love telling her stories that I’d heard as a child about Santa, the elves, baby Jesus and the Three Wise Men.
5. Create Your Own Traditions
This I feel is one of the most fun parts about holidays and families. You can make your own traditions and let your toddler enjoy the festivity in her own special way. For us, singing carols all through December is a big part of the Christmas preparations while making the rangoli (a traditional Indian welcome mat, made of flowers, powdered colors and rice) is a regular Diwali tradition. Another small Christmas tradition is the family photograph session dressed in the same colors as each other(!) and yup, decorating the tree. While I put up most of the decorations while she naps, she had a blast last year, putting up decorations on the lower branches as well as the star at the top.
Your turn! Do share how you make the holidays more meaningful and fun for your toddler. What holiday activities does your family engage in? I’d love to hear and learn more.
Photo Credit: Abigail Batchelder
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