• 7 Ways to Celebrate Your Toddler's First Christmas Without Buying Gifts

    It’s the perfect time to create traditions that your kids will cherish forever.
    by Kitty Elicay .
7 Ways to Celebrate Your Toddler's First Christmas Without Buying Gifts
PHOTO BY iStock
  • What makes Christmas truly special is spending time with family, helping others in need, and being thankful for all the blessings and the people who have touched your lives. Though it’s also a time for giving and receiving gifts, the last thing you want is a child who only associates the season with material things.

    If your family is celebrating Christmas with your toddler for the first time, you want to make it extra special. She probably won’t remember everything, but she also won’t have any expectations, making it the perfect time to start traditions they can look forward to year after year.

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    Here’s a list of activities for your first Christmas celebration with your toddler.

    1. Decorate the Christmas tree together.

    Choose your ornaments wisely! Your toddler will surely want to play with it.
    PHOTO BY iStock

    Bring out your box of decorations and let him choose what to hang on the tree! But watch out: your toddler is going to want to touch, feel, and investigate each ornament, so you’ll also need a lot of patience for this one.  Make sure to choose shatter-proof ornaments — you know, just in case he has too much fun and suddenly decides to throw them against the wall.

    2. Read Christmas stories.

    Read with your kid: 12 Kwentong Pamasko, a collection of heartwarming yuletide stories from award-winning writer Rene O. Villanueva.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Tahanan Books

    Snuggle in bed with your tot and read him tales that will introduce Christmas and show him what the season really is all about. Click here for fun titles you can read aloud and here for children’s books that will teach kids about the deeper meaning of the holidays.

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    3. View Christmas attractions around the metro.

    The whole country is lighting up with their Christmas lights, trees, and decor!
    PHOTO BY courtesy of SM Malls

    My fondest Christmas memory as a kid was visiting my lolo who worked in the C.O.D. Department Store in Cubao, and watching the mall’s moving Christmas displays with him. He’s already passed on, but I will always have that memory with me.

    Make the same heartwarming moments with your kids by visiting the various Christmas trees and decorations all over Metro Manila. The best part? Many of these attractions are free, so you can easily bring the whole family and marvel at the lights and sounds. Check out this guide for all the places you can visit! (Bonus: the C.O.D. moving displays are back in Araneta Center, so make sure to include it in your must-visit list!)

    4. Whip up some holiday goodies.

    Whether you do it from scratch or buy it from the shop, cookies and other treats are a regular feature of the holiday season. To make it more meaningful, bake the holiday goodies with your kids and have them gift it to their lolos and lolas, titos and titas, and ninongs and ninangs. They’ll learn that gifts don’t always have to be bought from the store — it can come from the heart and be made with love. Check out some recipes here.

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    5. Donate old stuff to those in need.

    Put a smile on other kids' faces by donating old toys to those in need.
    PHOTO BY Philippine Toy Library / Facebook

    At their age, toddlers may only be thinking of themselves and have not yet fully grasped the concept of sharing. You can start changing that during the holidays by asking them to give their old toys to kids who need it more, like the beneficiaries of the Philippine Toy Library. But don’t spring it on them — slowly begin sharing lessons at home (you can find helpful tips here or see the video below) and then see if they will be willing to let go of some of their toys. Explain or show to them why you need to do this and remind them that for every toy they give, they will also be getting something in return (on Christmas!).

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    6. Spend more time together as a family.

    Disconnect from your gadgets and make connections with your toddler instead.
    PHOTO BY iStock

    There are so many things to do during the holidays, but make it a point to find uninterrupted time for each other. And make sure to keep your phones and gadgets away — you want to pay attention to your toddler, not a screen.

    7.  Create traditions.

    Simple traditions become memorable when kids can look forward to it every year.
    PHOTO BY iStock

    As your toddler grows, you’d want her to look forward to Christmas traditions rather than the gifts you’re going to give her. It’s a tall order, yes, but doable. It can be something simple, like watching a certain movie before Noche Buena, or giving each child a special ornament that they can put up on the tree, or wearing matching PJs before going to sleep (and taking a Christmas photo in the morning!). Whatever you choose, knowing that you will keep doing it until he is older will definitely leave a mark on your child.

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    What Christmas traditions or activities do you do or plan to start with your kids to make the season more meaningful and fun? Share it with us in the comments, message us via FB messenger or email us at smartparenting2013@gmail.com. We’d love to hear all about it!

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