This post goes way beyond simply giving your baby gifts…get great ways to celebrate the holidays with an infant/toddler, including making ornaments and starting new traditions!
I've decided that the best way to celebrate all of this is to lay a foundation for these ideas this year. I thought I'd share a few ideas that I plan on doing this year!
UPDATE: If you need more ideas for older babies, I also have a 25 Days of a Toddler Christmas post!
- Watch your favorite Christmas movies. The ones with the most colors and sounds (How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, A Charlie Brown Christmas) are great ways to get your baby interested in holiday movies!
- Give your baby a Christmas heirloom this year. Mine is going to be Emma Ramey's cross-stitched stocking…if I ever finish it. 🙂
- Make Christmas art. If your baby is old enough, give them red and green crayons to “draw” with (with your supervision, of course). Here is a great site for making larger crayons for a baby. You can also do zipper bag color swirls with red and green food coloring/glitter, tear red and green paper strips, etc.
- Start a tradition of letting them have their “own” Christmas decoration. Our's is going to be Emma Ramey's tree in her room. We decorated it with her this year obviously, but I think it would be great to let her do it from now on. When she's old enough, I think it would be fun to decorate it with her drawings and art from school!
- Decorate the Christmas tree together. Let your baby hang a few (non-breakable) ornaments. And don't expect them to be perfectly spaced – my obsessive self has to be ok with that this year. Let them feel the branches and see the decorations sparkle. Let them smell the tree.
- Sing Christmas carols. Of course they won't be able to sing them, but you can sing them to your baby. We have the radio on constantly in the kitchen…Emma Ramey loves my terrible voice singing those Christmas songs! 🙂
- Meet Santa. Yes, be that cliche that stands in line at the mall. Those are pictures I can't wait to get with Emma Ramey!
- Wrap presents with your baby. This might be the biggest mess you've ever made in your life, but that's ok. Let them crumble the paper. Practice shaking the boxes to see what's in them. Let them feel the ribbon (this is one of the reasons I changed to tulle ribbon this year – the texture is going to be so much fun for her to explore!).
- Practice saying “thank you.” This is something that should be done all of the time, but especially at Christmas, it reinforces an early sense of thanks and gratitude when they receive a present.
- Identify colors/shapes on ornaments. Hold your baby in front of the tree and point to the ornaments as you say their color or shape. We've already started working on colors and shapes…anytime I can integrate learning and fun, I do it!
- Have a Polar Express day. We did this when I taught with the kids, and I can't wait to start it as a tradition in our home. Stay in your pajamas all day, read the book and watch the movie, drink hot chocolate (if they're old enough).
- Have a Christmas smell party. Bring a bunch of different items that have “Christmasy” smells (peppermints, cookies, hot chocolate, a few tree branches) and let your child smell/explore them with your supervision.
- If they are eating solid foods, make them Christmas-themed during the holidays. You could serve sweet potatoes, green beans, turkey (if they've started meats), pumpkin…whatever your family usually eats at the holidays!
- Take them to look at Christmas lights at night.
- Read Christmas books. Here are a few of my favorites for any age!
- If you're planning on doing an Elf on the Shelf, go on and start it this year! We have ours – which hasn't been named yet (any ideas? Clark and Eddie are currently in the running for us). We plan on reading her the book a few times and letting her play with it some this year, just so she sees it and knows it.
- Make a box for Operation Christmas Child with your baby. They won't know what's going on, but that's ok – you can start the foundation for giving now. Talk to them about what you're doing while you're doing it.
- Have your baby close while you cook your favorite holiday recipes. Let them smell the ingredients and taste them if they are old enough.
- Make a Christmas ornament. This is such a wonderful tradition to start. I'm thinking about doing one with her footprint like this one I found on Pinterest.
- Practice fun holiday words. We are working on “Ho Ho Ho” right now. This is obviously for older babies…Emma Ramey might not get it this year. 🙂
- Talk about presents when you buy them. For example, if you're buying a present for a grandmother, tell your baby how much you love that grandmother and why you want to give that present to her.
- This is more of a cold weather activity, so it would be great all winter long – when you put mittens on, talk about them going on your hands. When you put a hat on, talk about it going on your head. Socks/boots go on feet, etc. – help your baby start to identify parts of the body!
- Make a photo book of just their first Christmas – not just that day, the whole month. Take pictures of their first tree, their visit with Santa, all of their Christmas clothes, what decorations they loved. I think that would be a fantastic memory book!
- Read the true story of Christmas to your baby. Not Santa – the real story. Do this early and often, in my opinion. We also found that having a play nativity set for the baby to use was a great way to introduce the story.
- Leave cookies and milk for Santa. Let your baby sit next to you while you prepare the plate or make the cookies.