Inside: Dreading the pandemic Christmas? Start the 25 day-countdown to Christmas activities and make the season more exciting as the days get closer to Jesus’ birthday.
“On the river. ” ” On the bank. ” ” On the bank.” On the river.” The kids were so focused on the instructions of their older cousin in the game. If they jump in the wrong direction, they’re out of the competition. Their parents and relatives in the audience were stoked and hoped that their kid will play until the end and come out as the winner.
It was Christmas eve last year and everyone paraded to the basement of the host family for the fun games. All tummies were full, everyone was happy to hug each other, and everybody was in a festive spirit.
The night was just starting.
Then, the teens formed a circle and moved around a box in the middle, after specific instructions to move to the right or left and making sure that they held tight to each other so they stay in the game. Screams and laughter filled the room as the game progressed.
These big gatherings are a no-no this pandemic Christmas.
I know I’m not alone, I’m sure of that. This year feels weird. It’s sad.frustrating.pitiful.
It’s 4 weeks to go before Christmas and here we are. Still trying to think about how to get the most of the season.
For the first time in our lifetime, Christmas is a little bit depressing. No rush shopping in the malls, no parties to attend with extended families and friends, no visit to grandparents, just plain boring stay at home celebration.
I know, it’s should not be, we have to celebrate the birthday of Jesus. We need to be joyful that He was born to save us.
But we can’t help it. We’ve been used to lots of Christmas parties that start as early as late November to early December.
But you know what?
You just need to focus on your blessings. And you have lots of them. Your family members are healthy and nobody is sick with COVID or had mild symptoms only and now recovered, you have a stable job, you work from home, and a lot more.
So, let’s go and plan to start our countdown to the Christmas pandemic. It’s only this year, let’s make the most of this festive season.
You can do these activities each day until Christmas. For sure, it will bring more enthusiasm as the days draw near to the big day.
Your choice, you can start on November 30th and end on December 24th. Anyway, December 25th is really the most special day.
Start December 1st and end exactly on December 25th.
Day 1- Decor day
- Put up your Christmas tree!
- Hang on the lights and your old trimmings and ornaments.
- Let your special child assist you. He can get the accessories from the box and give them to you while you are tiptoeing in the footstool to reach the peak of the tree.
- Stand in awe to appreciate the blinking of the lights on that first night.
- Start playing Christmas carols as well.
- Don’t forget to adorn that craft that your little one made in school last year or at his Kindergarten class.
Day 2- Make a letter to Santa
- Bring out your colorful paper and let your special one scribble those notes.
- Help him write and express what he wants for Christmas, be it a gift or just a wish.
- Get him to accompany you to the mailbox to drop the letter himself. I’m sure he will be ecstatic to wait and receive Santa’s response.
- Make sure there are volunteers in your area who writes back to the kids.
Day 3- Make 2 Christmas crafts
- Make these with photos of the whole family. Hang them on your Christmas tree as ornaments.
- Your special child will giggle with delight seeing his face on a Santa costume.
Photo from thebestideasforkids.com
2. Red and Gold Glitter Paper
3. Cotton Balls
8. Photo ( showing face only with no distractions )
Christmas tree thumbprint art
- Your kids will have fun dipping their fingers in the paint and dabbing them on the paper.
- These will make a nice display under the tree, in your kids’ rooms, or give as Christmas cards to their teachers or grandparents.
Photo from adabofgluewilldo.com
1. White paper
2. Colored paper ( used black in image above )
6. Paint ( choose Christmas colors like green, red, blue )
Click here for monthly subscriptions to kids’ crafts to continue the fun all year long.
Day 4- More home decors
- Finish your trimmings in your windows and walls. Hang those bells and poinsettias. Teach your kids about counting and colors while doing these.
- Listen to Christmas carols from your TV, phone, or Alexa, or let your child sing those songs that he learned from school.
- You can let those DIY crafts that you made the day before, dangle in your Christmas tree or in the windows. Your special one will feel appreciated and proud of his job. Especially if the whole family’s wiggly Santas are smiling back at you when you try to re-arrange your other tree ornaments.
Day 5- Read a book or two about Christmas
- Snuggle in bed with your special one and read together stories about what Christmas is all about, how to celebrate in this Pandemic, sharing as the best present that brings profound joy, and some hilarious experiences.
Day 6- Learn a Christmas song
- Search from YouTube and teach your kids the classic songs, like ” Joy to the world,” Silent Night, Jingle Bells,” and a lot more.
- Singing reduces stress, puts everyone in a happy mood, and improves focus. For the grown-ups, it also helps with controlling high blood pressure and other illnesses.
- This year, I want my kids and young nephews and nieces to learn some Filipino songs so they don’t forget their roots.
- Listen to this local Christmas song, you will really love it.
Day 7-Read a book or two about the birth of Jesus
- These books will teach your kids that Jesus was born to save us and how simple his birth was, just like ordinary people.
- Being your kids’ first teachers, reading to them early on about Jesus’ birthday will enable them to grow up to be mature Christians believing that there is someone who is always there for them, in whatever they do, and whenever they are sad and struggling in life.
Day 8- Make DIY Christmas cards
- Your special kid will have fun helping you put together this creative card.
- By just putting the glue in the shaped paper and arranging them in the colored paper, he will be proud of doing something nice.
Tie-Dye Snowman Christmas card
Photo from happytoddlerplaytime.com
1. Food color
4. Paper towel
5. Elastic bands
6. Construction papers ( Orange, Red, Green, and White )
Washi tape Christmas Card
- This is so easy to make, even if your special child is not creative, because the designs in the washi tape itself will make your card look pretty and colorful.
Photo from muminthemadhouse.com
3. Glue Sticks
Day 9-Watch a movie together after dinner
- This movie, ” Home Alone, ” is a classic where it features a young boy left all alone at home when his family accidentally left him behind for a Christmas holiday. It is hilarious and everyone will burst out laughing almost all throughout the movie.
- You can buy the compilation of all 4 series. Click the image to see the price.
Day 10- Make 2 Christmas crafts
Family Handprint Christmas Tree
- This activity will be exciting for everyone in the family. It can become an annual family tradition.
- You will be happy to see your little one’s hands growing each year.
Photo from mamasmiles.com
* Felt fabric– red, green, and yellow ( for easy hanging in your Christmas tree, if you prefer )
1. Colored paper (green, red, and brown)
4. Stickers (for decorations, optional)
Cinnamon Stick Ornaments
- These are so easy to make and will look pretty hanging on your Christmas tree. Your special child will enjoy putting on those buttons and the googley eyes.
- Who can’t resist the Christmas smell with the cinnamon scent? Go for it!
Photo from thisgrandmaisfun.com
3. Sparkly Yellow Paper
8. Googley Eyes
Click here for monthly subscriptions to kids’ crafts to continue the fun all year long.
Day 11 – Start wrapping gifts
- This year, because shops and malls are not open like they used to ( only stores that sell essential goods like food and baby stuff are always receiving customers ), you have to be resourceful to look for presents. You can buy online and still get them in time for the holidays.
- Or look at your closets, you might have previous presents that have not been opened or used, then you can re-gift them.
- DIY presents are also good. For my extended family, I plan to cook something delicious and distribute it to each of them a few days before the celebration, in time for their feast.
- You have all the time to make gift-wrapping as nice as it should be. Buy your Christmas wrappers here, or here.
- Solicit help from your family, even your special one can hold the tape for you or the ends of the wrappers so they’re aligned and neat.
- Your Christmas tree will look prettier after some gifts are arranged underneath.
Day 12- Do a board game or two
- Aside from the fun and great family bonding, these board games develop your special kid’s critical thinking, imagination, decision skills, spatial reasoning, and problem-solving.
- Put out your stored family favorites or buy online if you wanted something new and more challenging. Click the image to see the price.
Day 13-Watch another movie
- If you bought the compilation of ” Home Alone, ” you can curl up with your kids in bed or in the living room sofa and view the other series.
- Or this other movie, “The Polar Express, ” about a young boy’s extraordinary train ride to the North Pole.
Day 14 – Share stories of your past Christmases
- It’s fun to reminisce about your adventures when you were younger and how you celebrated Christmas in a different environment as your child’s now.
- Recall how you grew up in a small town where everyone knew each other and you bumped into your friends on the way to church.
- In your school Christmas parties, your teacher brought all the food and your exchange gifts were all cheap chocolates that were similar to your classmates’ because there were only a handful of stores that sold them.
- In grades 5 to 6, you enjoyed singing Christmas carols with a candle- lighted DIY lanterns, moving from house to house, on some chilly or rainy evenings.
- Your children will surely laugh at how simple and down to earth were your happenings back then.
Day 15- Do some coloring books
- Grab those crayons and develop your special child’s fine motor skills and identification of colors and lines.
- Let his creative juices flow as he fills those circles and stars with the colors of Christmas.
- This coloring book for girls will uplift her and develop her self-confidence.
Day 16- Enjoy another after-dinner board game
- Playing board games is fun and relaxing. They train your minds to analyze, be critical, and competitive.
- For your special one, he will learn to count and how to be alert, develop sharpness of his mind, as well be more focused on the task.
- This is also a great time for your kid to rest from those gadgets and be present with you and the whole family.
- Check out the images above on Day 12 if you want to buy new ones.
Day 17- Learn more Christmas carols
- I love the group Pentatonix and their unique rendition of Christmas songs. They are so talented. Even when I’m working, I love to play their songs in the background.
- Here’s their version of “Little Drummer Boy.” It would be fun learning this song and teaching your kids to sing with you, even if they only learn to say Pa-rum pum pum pum.
Day 18- Watch another movie
Here’s a list of some movies if you want to buy them.
These are classic, fun, and so entertaining that you wouldn’t mind watching them every Christmas for the nth time.
Day 19 Make a video of your family singing a favorite Christmas carol
- You can share this at your virtual Christmas party in a few days.
- Garb same colored shirts or with the same motifs, like everyone wears a scarf or a Santa’s hat.
- Use a guitar, ukulele, or tambourines to accompany your song.
Day 20- Finish wrapping of presents
- Christmas is just a few days away and you have to get every gift wrapped.
- I’m laughing because I usually finish mine on the day of the party ( on those days ) or on Christmas eve. But the rush is also exciting!
- There are always people that add up to my list.
Day 21- Make Christmas cookies, cupcakes, or any food for gifts
- Last year, we gave out fried peanuts in bottles tied with red and green ribbons and it was a hit!
- You can buy those Christmas motif plastic containers that you can fill with cookies or any dessert for giveaways.
- These snacks are good for everybody so I just add some books or little toys or chocolates for the little kids.
Day 22- Distribute gifts and giveaways
- Hop on to the car and go from house to house and give your prepared food- giveaways and/or gifts to your extended families.
- Yes, it sucks! We’re not allowed to go out of our households to hug our relatives. This virus is following us everywhere, more so in closed spaces. Thus, because our elders are so vulnerable, just greet your kids’ grandparents from afar with big grins. For sure, they will be happy to see the little ones ” in person, ” outside their apartments or condos. You can hand in your present fast, without touching.
- Your kids’ cousins will be all smiles to receive something awesome from your family, be it a toy, a book, or chocolates.
Day 23-Attend the virtual Christmas party with extended family
- Gather everyone in zoom or messenger or any platform where you can do video calls and share your kids’ crafts.
- Sing Christmas carols as a group.
- Let every family share their recorded singing or dancing.
- Showcase the kids’ talents in singing, playing the piano, etc.
- Eat together virtually your home-prepared snacks.
Day 24- Make desserts and prepare some food or ingredients
- You can marinate the meat tonight or cut the vegetables and spices or whatever you can get ready to make your cooking as seamless as possible tomorrow. Or actually, cook already some side or main dishes for heating tomorrow.
- Desserts can be done at this time, too.
- I want to share something that I love to cook. This Cassava cake is a hit with family or friends’ gatherings be it Christmas or any holiday, even during birthdays. You can also give this out as a present, which I might do this year.
- It’s easy to make- some mixing, then baking in the oven, and after an hour or so, you will be rewarded with this very delicious dessert or snacks.
- It could stay in your fridge for another 3-4 days and it will taste like the first time you put it in your mouth.
- I don’t usually put the exact amount of sugar listed in the recipe, I put less or even half and it is still yummy, people come back for it again and again.
Photo from Panlasang Pinoy
1. Grated cassava, 2 packs, about 2 lbs in total
2. Coconut milk, 2 cups
3. Evaporated milk, 1/2 12 oz. can
4. Eggs, 3 pieces
5. Melted butter, 1/4 cup
6. Grated cheddar cheese, 6 tablespoons
7. Condensed milk, 1/2 cup
8. Granulated white sugar, 14 tablespoons ( I use 7 tbsp only and it’s perfectly fine )
1. Flour, 2 tablespoons
2. Sugar, 2 tablespoons
3. Condensed milk, 1/2 cup
4. Grated cheddar cheese, 2 tablespoons
5. Coconut milk, 2 cups
- Learn the recipe at Panlasang Pinoy.
- Later before hitting the bed, call to greet ” Merry Christmas, ” or do video calls with your families back home or in far-away places because their time zone is just the right time to do it!
Day 25- Celebrate the birthday of Jesus
- Prepare the feast for your family and savor the dishes with your loved ones.
- Greet Jesus on His birthday in your prayer.
- Have photos in front of your Christmas tree. Wear your family costume ( Same PJ’s, Santa’s hat, Same colored shirts )
- Attend the online mass with the whole family.
- Open the gifts that you prepared for each family member.
- Appreciate the gifts from other relatives, let the kids call them to say thank you.
The Secrets to a Successful Christmas celebration amidst the Pandemic
I know you and I have been used to two or more Christmas gatherings, gift exchanges, lots of cooking and food, last minute shopping, and all those rush preparations for Christmas, and this year, everything has. turned. around.
Not as much excitement, but it really depends on us.
Like what my friend Laura Fuller says,
1. Have a happy mindset
Don’t let negativity ruin the celebration.
This is really important. Open your mindset for a joyous celebration. It doesn’t matter if you’re only 2 or 3 in the family. Just be happy and thankful.
Count your blessings and be ecstatic of the birthday of our Savior.
2. Timely preparation for the activities
List down the gifts that you need to buy and for whom. Especially if you have young kids and relatives.
Look at your old books and movies to use for your countdown activities and if you want to buy, click here for choices.
Follow the suggestions above for your daily countdown activities and for sure, you will have organized fun every time.
3. Make the house festive with fun decor
Start now if you haven’t! I know, I’m guilty of this. For some reasons, I haven’t found the inspiration to unearth my decors and begin decorating.
My naked Christmas tree has been on the table for the past two weeks and waiting to be trimmed with the tinsels and glitters.
I promise today, I will.
But we have put up our Christmas lantern in our window and I find joy in its sparkle on the dark nights and early mornings of winter.
4. Fill the air with Christmas carols
Don’t wait until Christmas day to play your music, begin now!
Christmas music is so joyful, soothing, and bring lots of good vibes.
I told my cousins we will be having video calls on weekends to teach our young kids Filipino Christmas songs so they will not forget our culture.
If our plans push through, we might sing via zoom or messenger those songs during our virtual Christmas party.
5. Bring the family together for bonding activities
Save some nights for everyone to drop their cellphones, turn off their laptops and the television, and just get together for amazing board games, Christmas crafts, gift wrapping, writing Christmas cards, or singing favorite Christmas carols.
Snuggle together on the sofa or in the bed to watch your fave Christmas-themed movies as part of your countdown.
6. Make your family feel special even those far away from you
Because you are not allowed to visit your kids’ grandparents, for safety reasons, you can let the kids call them, or do video call with them. Better still, bring greeting signs and go in front of their patio or door and let the kids wave them with some dancing. For sure, they will be delighted to see your family.
If the grandparents live abroad, the same thing, do long-distance calls or video calls. Be sure to be mindful of the time zone. If your kid can play the piano or sing songs to them while on the call, this will add more warmth to the virtual greetings.
7. Celebrate Jesus’ birthday with thanksgiving in your hearts
Always be grateful for harmony in your family and friends, comfort in your life, togetherness, unconditional love, good health, and most of all, peaceful and blissful life.
Of course, if you have a stable job, a house that you are able to pay for, food on the table, and all the necessities, be sure to acknowledge God’s provision in all these.
8. Share your blessings
You will always have profound joy if you know that everything that you have, ought to be shared with others. Not only material things and money, but your time and effort also count.
The last time that we went home to spend Christmas back in our home country, we distributed candies, goods, rice and money to whoever came to our door on Christmas. And there were lots of them, young and old alike. This is a tradition in our place. People go from house to house to collect giveaways from generous people on Christmas day.
When all that we have prepared has been handed out, we were tired but our hearts were full. We actually did these annually when we used to live there.
After all, this is what Jesus wants us to do.
“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Hebrews 13:16
This Pandemic Christmas is unique
We may be missing those family photos with Santa this year, but if we just plan and decide to embrace and enjoy the season, it will be worth the wait.
Days fly so fast and before you know it, Christmas eve is here and you still have to finish your preparations and buy those little toys and chocolates for the kids’ Christmas stockings.
Oh well, I hope you are agog just like me, for the celebration of this special day.
Merry Christmas everyone!
What are your plans for this coming Christmas?