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4 Family Activities to Celebrate Las Posadas

December 13, 2016

By Jessica Vician

4 Family Activities to Celebrate Las Posadas | A pointed star piñata waits to be hit by children on Las Posadas.

What is your family doing to celebrate Las Posadas this year? We have four ideas for family activities that range from educational and fun to delicious and filling.

Las Posadas Learning Activity
Teach your toddler or early elementary student about Las Posadas by sharing the symbolism of the poinsettia, the story of Las Posadas, and the traditional way of celebrating in Mexico.

This Las Posadas activity from Scholastic is designed for a classroom but would be fun at home or at a party.

DIY Nativity Scene Toys
A nativity scene can be found in many Christian households during the holidays, but often, the pieces that make up the nativity scene are fragile and not to be touched.

Encourage your child to learn Mary and Joseph's story on the night of Jesus' birth while letting him or her play with a kid-friendly nativity scene that you make together. Mommy Maestra has a great DIY tutorial on making your own nativity scene.

Gather the Kids for a Play
Tap into their inner performer and encourage your kids and their friends to put on a play that tells the Las Posadas story. Gather the adults for an audience and share your parent pride with applause!

Recipes for Las Posadas
Celebrate Las Posadas with traditional Mexican recipes that will warm your family's hearts and bellies. Latino Foodie has recipes for chile verde pork tamales, chipotle-glazed ham, Oaxacan pollo almendrado, and pan dulce. ¡Que rico!

Ask your children to help prepare the meal by giving them age-appropriate tasks. Young ones can stir or set the table, while teenagers can do prep work like cutting vegetables. Let everyone help to keep the family close and the holiday spirit alive.

How does your family celebrate Las Posadas? Share your traditions in the comments below.

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How can we start a holiday tradition for our own family?

December 6, 2016

By YOU Program Facilitator

How can we start a holiday tradition for our own family? | A young girl helps her mother make holiday cookies.

Question: My 6-year-old daughter wants to start a new holiday tradition. She said she wants one that's just for our family. I'm stumped on ideas. Can you think of an activity we can start that will grow with our family as we get older?

Answer: It's wonderful that your daughter takes pride in your family and wants to do something that will bring you closer. Her request reminds us that even though the holidays are busy, it's important to dedicate some time or an activity to your immediate family, and in this case, your daughter.

We have a few ideas for traditions that will hold up as she matures—they might even stay with you if you become a grandparent one day!

Ornament Exchange
Choose a date during the holidays for an ornament exchange. Each family member can spend the week prior making or buying an ornament. After a special lunch or dinner, put the wrapped ornaments in a pile. Draw numbers, and let the person who drew number one choose the first ornament. In order of their number drawn, each person unwraps an ornament, keeping it for him or herself or trading it for another one. Then, the family puts their new ornaments on the tree together.

Holiday Market Visit
Set a date each year, like the first Saturday in December, to visit a holiday market as a family. It might not be the same market each year—if you have a lot of options in your area, you may want to make a rule to never repeat. While your daughter is young, choose a market with activities or shops for children. The activities might change as your daughter grows up, but the warm feeling of being surrounded by holiday traditions, smells, and your family will stay the same.

The Nutcracker
See a performance of The Nutcracker every year together. There are many performances in various price ranges, from professional ballets in big cities to college performances to dance school recitals. Choose one in your budget and expose your daughter to a dance form not often shown on television or YouTube these days.

Borrow Traditions from Other Cultures and Religions
Do you celebrate Christmas? Borrow the candle-lighting tradition from Hanukkah and teach your daughter about why Jewish families celebrate Hanukkah. Do you celebrate Hanukkah? Borrow the principals of Kwanzaa to teach your daughter about community. SheKnows has a great list of global traditions that you can incorporate into your new family tradition while teaching your daughter about other cultures and religions.

Do our readers have suggestions for fun family traditions that grow with your kids? Share in the comments below.

For more family-focused holiday fun, read our 5 Must-Do Holiday Family Activities article.

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Activity: Halloween Candy Trading Post

October 25, 2016

By Jessica Vician

Activity: Halloween Candy Trading Post | How do you let your child enjoy his or her spoils from trick or treating without eating too much (or whining about not having enough)? Try this activity.

After the trick or treating ends and the costumes are put away, there’s one last thing a parent has to worry about for Halloween: the begging and pleading for one more! piece of candy.

How do you let your child enjoy his or her spoils from trick or treating without eating too much (or whining about not having enough)?

If your child is in elementary school or above, make a trading game out of it. Assign relative values to each candy. For example, two rolls of Smarties are equivalent to one two-pack of fun-size Starburst. Not only does this game teach your children to use both mathematical and analytical skills, but it also turns the candy into a commodity that your child will start to see as more than just a sugary, fruity, or chocolaty treat.

Once you have assigned the relative values to each candy, invite your kids to divide their candy into the various categories you have assigned. If you need help determining values, watch this hilarious and accurate Buzzfeed video.

Then, invite your kids to trade according to the value system in place. Since there is a lot of excitement on Halloween night, let them trade a few days’ worth of candy that night (and eat some of it, embracing the inevitable sugar high). In the days following, host a candy trading post at the kitchen table after school or dinner so that your kids can honor the value system and continue to trade their candy each night for one dessert’s worth.

Continue the activity every night until all the candy is gone. As a parent, you choose whether to participate or supervise. If you have an only child, you should definitely participate—otherwise, whom will he or she trade with every night? If you don’t want to eat your candy, bring it to the office or treat your child with it after his or her supply is gone.

This Halloween candy trading activity is a great way to trick your kids into rationing their treats without whining and overindulging while developing their analytical and bargaining skills at the same time.

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Throw a Kid-Friendly New Year’s Eve Bash in 4 Steps

December 31, 2015

By Jessica Vician

Throw a kid-friendly New Year's Eve Bash | There’s no need for a sitter if you’re hosting a New Year’s Eve bash that both kids and adults will love. The key is to provide food, drinks, games, and music that all ages can enjoy. | A child smiles as he holds a sparkler on New Year's Eve.

There’s no need for a sitter if you’re hosting a New Year’s Eve bash that both kids and adults will love. The key is to provide food, drinks, games, and music that all ages can enjoy.

Serve sparkling drinks
The bubbles are half the fun of a New Year’s Eve party, so serve club soda with lime, sparkling apple cider, and other sparkling fruit drinks (like sparkling cranberry juice or orange sparkling water).

Set up the non-alcoholic drink station with ice, colored straws, and plastic cups (and sippy cups depending on the children’s ages), and keep it separate from the adult alcohol drink station so kids can serve themselves.

Dish out food that makes you feel like a kid again
Everyone loves mac and cheese, grilled cheese, and pizza. Buy some mac and cheese bites and pizzas from the frozen section of the grocery store and cook grilled cheese, cutting it into quarters. Put a vegetable tray with hummus on the coffee table.

With these finger foods, you don’t need to make anything separate for the kids or adults. Everyone will be happy to eat like a kid again, and the kids can reach the healthiest options since they’re sitting right on the coffee table.

Create a radio-friendly playlist
You know your kids love singing along to Top 40 radio, so embrace the songs you both like and create a playlist that everyone will dance to. Choose the radio edits to avoid any swear words.

Celebrate the ball drop in an earlier time zone
If you’re trying to get your kids back into an earlier sleep routine for school, you won’t want them to stay up until midnight local time.

Ask your adult guests to celebrate an earlier ball drop (if you’re on the East Coast, watch London’s countdown; if you’re in the Central, Mountain, or Pacific time zone, watch New York’s countdown). The kids will get the experience of the countdown and can go to sleep whenever they’re ready without feeling like they’re missing out.

Are you going out or staying in with the kids tonight? Tell us your plans in the comments below. 

Tags :  holidaysactivitiesfamily funsocial
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Focus on Faith for Kwanzaa

December 29, 2015

By Jessica Vician

Focus on Faith for Kwanzaa | Kwanzaa’s seven principles, or Nguzo Saba, represent African cultural values that contribute to building and growing a community among African Americans. Each day, one of these principles is discussed. While all of the principles are important and bring value to the family’s discussions, this year I feel it is especially important to focus on the faith principle, or imani.

Kwanzaa’s seven principles, or Nguzo Saba, represent African cultural values that contribute to building and growing a community among African Americans. Each day, one of these principles is discussed. While all of the principles are important and bring value to the family’s discussions, this year I feel it is especially important to focus on the faith principle, or imani.

The imani principle’s purpose is “to believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.”

This faith does not focus on religion, but rather faith in ourselves and others to do the right, just, and moral thing. 2015 has been a year filled with angst, anger, terrorism, and fear throughout our nation and the world. But out of that negativity rose community. People have banded together to fight corruption and evil and to demand better from our leaders and each other.

That positivity and community can give us faith and motivate us to challenge ourselves and inspire our families to be better. Before Kwanzaa ends on January 1st, gather your family and talk about the imani principle.

As you sit around the fireplace or dinner table, ask your family these questions:

  • What does faith mean to you?
  • What do you admire most in your teacher? In your father, your mother, your sibling or cousin?
  • Who is your hero and why? How can you be more like him or her?
  • How will you be a better person in 2016?
  • How will you help others in 2016?

These may seem like simple questions, but it’s an important exercise for families with children of all ages. Sometimes the simplest questions are the ones we forget to answer as we get older and busier. These questions can help you reflect on the past year, on your life so far, and refocus for the coming year.

Gather your family, discuss these questions, and strengthen your faith in yourselves, each other, and the community. It’s the best way to make a difference in your local community and eventually influence the global community.

Tags :  holidaysculture
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