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Low Stress Holiday Activities
Can't the holidays be about less stress rather than more?

At Creative Parents we like to think of the holidays as a time families and friends spend time together, talk, relax and reflect on the year. Instead, we see frantic parents grumbling on store lines, overtired adults snapping at their children, overtired kids balking at being hurried along, and a lot of people with knots in their stomachs instead of on their wrapping bows.

If you keep reading you will NOT learn how to bake amazing gingerbread cookies and knit handmade sweaters for everyone you’ve ever met.

The activities described here are low-key and designed to help you relax by focusing on unwinding with your loved ones. As we get suggestions, we’ll add more:

Watch a video together. Try to find a time when nobody has to pop up to check the oven or multi-task on electronic devices. One favorite video, that adults love and can be shared with kids over seven, or so, is “A Christmas Story” narrated by the late great writer, storyteller and radio host Jean Shepherd. If you don’t find yourself laughing at the foibles of the mid-Western family with two earnest sons, a well-meaning mom and a father with lots of fluster in his bluster, than you may need professional help. The film is a classic with appeal across age groups and generations. While the film centers on the holidays, it’s it is not in any way religious.

Take time to draw -- make expressive holiday cards together. This is not about competing with Hallmark, but taking some time to sit at a table with your children and a batch of crayons and markers, and to express some creative interpretations of the holiday season. And if these creative interpretations depict a traffic jam rather than chestnuts roasting, it’s an opportunity to talk about how this time of year affects people. Kids often are most willing to talk to parents about how they feel when you’re doing activities together – less pressured than a face-to-face cross examination. Remember, that the idea of making the cards is to have a chance to share reactions to the holidays, and that the process is more important than the product. If you end up with some sendable cards, great. If that doesn’t seem to be “in the cards,” put the holiday drawings in a special place to look at in future years.

Order Out – There is so much pressure on families to suddenly cook, bake and decorate at this time of year that we forget about our regular life savers – ordering out, and getting take out food prepared by the pros. Allison Pearson’s wonderful book “I Don’t Know How She Does It” starts out with a working mom “distressing” a store bought pie so it will look homemade when she brings it to her children’s school bake sale. If you feel the need to distress your store-bought foods, fine. Better they should be distressed than YOU!

Read a CNN online article about handling kids' holiday requests (that includes quotes from Istar and others) on holiday giving --go to

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