Posted by Lynn Beattie, WIC Nutritionist
With the holidays fast approaching, families everywhere are scrambling to finish their shopping, decorate their homes and prepare meals and sweets! The season brings a lot of fun, but can be stressful at times. Try focusing on seeing things from your child’s perspective. Chances are the traditions and memories you make are what children will grow up to remember, not the gifts or fancy meals.
For starters, think about ways to minimize the stress. Stay on track by planning ahead. Make a list of what must get done and set realistic goals for the days leading up the holidays. And don’t do it alone! Children can be great holiday helpers. Whether it’s with decorating or helping in the kitchen, preparing for the holidays together keeps everyone involved, happy and having fun!
Budgets can be tight during the holiday season. Think about homemade gifts for your friends and family. They are much more heartfelt and thoughtful than a toy or sweater. Here are a few examples!
- For friends and family members, create bread, soup or cookie mixes in a jar. Measure out the ingredients of a cookie recipe. Layer the ingredients in a mason jar and tie a ribbon to the top of the jar with instructions for making the bread, soup or cookies!
- For kids, make a snowman-in-a-box. Place items in the box such as buttons for eyes, a carrot for the nose, and fleece fabric for the scarf. Then, go outside and make a snowman together!
- Make bean bags for the kids. Use a variety of textures and colors for the fabric and cut out squares. Put two squares together and stitch around three sides. Fill with your choice of filling (cotton or dried beans could work), and sew up the fourth side. As an optional step, stitch around the entire beanbag for a more professional look and reinforced finishing. The bean bags could come in handy for indoor games this winter.
Now, think about healthy eating. You don’t have to throw good nutrition out the window during the holiday season! Whether you are hosting the holiday or attending a party, try to prepare at least one healthy dish so you know that there will be smart options to choose from when it’s party time. Use fruits that are in season this winter, such as apricots, pears, kiwis, and tangerines. A well-prepared vegetable salad is full of nutrients and can be a part of any holiday meal. Top your winter greens with dried cranberries, walnuts, and crumbled cheese—you’ll be packing your dish with flavor and good nutrition! Fruits and vegetables that are in season are usually cheaper or on sale.
Probably the trickiest part of making holidays healthy is making sure that you and your family keep active during this busy (and cold!) time. If there is snow, get outside and go sledding, build snow forts, or go for a walk with the family all bundled up. Think about starting a tradition where you go for a family walk, cut pines together, and head home to make a wreath or decoration. Maybe you could even plan a neighborhood activity to get your community together during the holiday season, like a fun run or ice skating party.
What are some of your family traditions? Or, do you plan to start a new one this year? Let us know!