phrases to help kids focus on holiday memories

The holiday season can be truly magical, for both kids and adults. Some of my best memories as a child are of celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family and I hope my own children look back on our family holidays just as fondly one day.

During this time of excitement, it's so easy for kids to focus on just the presents. Can you really blame them when every commercial is for a Black Friday sale and every store is filled with beautiful displays of toys?

Try these simple phrases to help your children focus on all of the meaningful holiday experiences, rather than just the toys:

1. "When I was a kid..."

Take some time this year to reminisce about your own childhood holidays and traditions. Talk about the things your family did together and which memories are most meaningful to you. Children hear about Santa and presents everywhere they turn, but we can help balance it out by talking about the other wonderful parts of the season.

Plus, young children love hearing stories from their parents' childhoods. They generally find it fascinating, like you're letting them into a secret world they rarely hear about.

2. "Help me unpack the decorations."

Get your child involved in the preparations for the holiday. While these tasks can sometimes seem like just another item on your to-do list, they are often really enjoyable for young children. Whether it's decorating the house, planning the holiday menu, or deciding which holiday events to go to this year, invite your child to help, even if it makes the task take a little bit longer.

3."What could we do for your cousins to make their holiday wonderful?"

Ask your child to help you brainstorm something nice you could do for someone, rather than a gift to buy. It might be cleaning a sibling's room for them or baking muffins together for your child's teacher. What matters is that your child is focusing on things to do for someone else, giving the gift of time rather than money.

4. "Let's make some holiday cards together."

Set out some simple supplies like markers and stickers and invite your child to help you make holiday cards. You can send them out with your family photo cards, or simply keep them with you and hand them out to anyone you see who looks like they may need a little boost this season.

The important thing is that your child is seeing that handmade gifts have value and that there are simple things we can do to make this time meaningful and special.

5. "Let's go on a holiday scavenger hunt."

Preschool-aged children love scavenger hunts, and they're so easy to pull off. Simply make a list of things like a snowman, an elf, a wreath and take a walk or a drive with your child to find all of the items. If it's a hit, you can make a new list each week.

Sometimes giving kids a purpose, like finding certain items around town, can help them focus on an experience like taking in the holiday sights.

6. "Let's make a holiday bucket list."

Sit down with your child the day after Thanksgiving and make a list together of all of the experiences you want to share this holiday season. You can keep it simple and just put the list on the refrigerator and tick things off when you have a free day, or write each item on a paper and draw randomly from a jar each day. It can be easy things like baking cookies for a neighbor, drinking hot cocoa or reading a holiday book together.

7. "We're going to help serve a holiday lunch today."

Volunteering is a great way to not only help others in need, but show your child that the season of giving is not really about giving presents.

Choose an activity your child can really participate in like making decorations for a local children's hospital or visiting an elderly home to bring some holiday cheer. During the activity, talk with your child about the importance of being there for others and the real spirit of the holiday season.

8. "What experiences would you like as Christmas gifts this year?"

Once your child is preschool age, they are old enough to begin thinking of meaningful experiences they might like to receive. They might need some prompting, but they can participate in the discussion. Experience gifts like a membership to a children's museum or tickets to see the Nutcracker make wonderful gifts and take the focus off of material things.

9. "Do you want to play a fun game with me?"

There are so many things that make the holidays special. The lights, the music, and of course the smells! Use empty spice jars and place a different holiday scented item in each jar. You might include cinnamon, fresh pine needles, nutmeg, a scoop of hot cocoa mix, or peppermint.

You can either blindfold your child or wrap the spice jars in wrapping paper and then let them smell and guess what each item is. Simple activities like this help your child pause and recognize all of the little things that make the season magical.

10. "Let's look at holiday photos together."

Take some time to look at old holiday photos together. Make the experience as cozy as possible by lighting a candle or a fire in the fireplace to make it feel special. Put on some holiday music and make an evening of it.

You can make these simple holiday experiences every bit as special as a big trip to a holiday light festival or opening piles of presents. Children follow our lead with which parts of the holiday are the most important. If we make a big deal out of choosing and decorating a tree together, they will internalize that that's an important tradition in our family. But if we go all-in on singing holiday songs together every day in December, that is what they will remember.

Every child loves presents, and there's nothing wrong with that, but we can subtly shift the focus so that their memories will be of simpler (and less expensive!) moments. They may not remember what exactly they received two months later, but they will certainly remember that you watch Elf together every Christmas Eve in your matching PJs.

Who says you have to wait for birthdays or holidays to give your bestie a great gift? A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs in these more-than-trying times. We've rounded up some of our favorite go-to gifts that are certain to be a bright spot in her week. But be warned, you may want to snag a few for yourself. (You deserve it, mama.)

Here are some our favorite "just because" gifts to give our hardworking mama friends.

New Mother face + body care duo

volition face + body care duo

This correcting oil and stretch mark minimizer is perfect for the pregnant mama looking to keep her pregnancy glow. The correcting oil brightens the skin while reducing dark spots, and the stretch mark minimizer works to smooth her ever-growing belly.


Allover roller

esker allover roller

This jade roller goes beyond your typical face roller and can be used anywhere on the body. It works to increase stimulation and reduce puffiness and is perfect for applying any oils to the face or body. Plus, it feels like a mini spa treatment.


Kombucha making kit

farmsteady kombucha making kit

What could be a more perfect gift for the health-obsessed friend? This kombucha making kit comes with everything you need to brew your own homemade green tea kombucha. They'll think this is the tastiest gift ever.


Laetitia lipstick

cupid & psyche laetitia

This red lipstick is perfect for your makeup enthusiast bestie who is looking to spruce up her life in quarantine. Crafted in the United States, these bee and vegan-friendly and cruelty-free lipsticks are created to flatter all complexions. Cupid and Psyche Beauty makes finding the perfect red lip way too easy!


Jigsaw puzzle

inner piecec jigsaw puzzle

Mamas need to destress now more than ever during quarantine. This adorable jigsaw puzzle is perfect for the mama who needs a brain break! The 500-piece puzzle designed by artist Ray Oranges features an abstract gradient design that fits a standard frame when completed. Bonus: It's printed on recycled paper and the company donates $1 from every puzzle sold to youth mindfulness programs.


Matilda's Bloombox

matilda's bloombox

If we have to be stuck inside, we might as well have some gorgeous florals to brighten up the space. Matilda's Bloombox locally sources blooms, delivers them to her door and provides simple tips on how to arrange it into a beautiful bouquet.


'I Am Enough' bracelet

I Am Enough bracelet

Let this dainty bracelet serve as a constant reminder to your bestie that she is enough. She'll wear this on her wrist and read this daily oath to herself, "I Am Enough."


Glow assorted teas

vahdam low assorted teas

This tea gift box set covers the entire spectrum of flavors from sweet to spicy. Individually packaged in beautiful tins, your gal pal will feel like a queen sipping her morning tea. Originally $40, this set is currently on sale for just $24. We'll take two, please.


Find your voice journal

find your voice journal

Journaling is a great way to ease anxiety and will slow your bestie's racing mind before bed. This gift is perfect for first time journalists and includes prompts, daily quotes and coloring pages to help her unlock her potential and find her voice.


Premium frother

shore magic premium frother

This gift is fitting for your latte-sipping bestie who can't go a day without her coffee. All she has to do is add two scoops of collagen to her favorite drink, and she'll have a perfectly foamy drink ready in seconds. Skipping the drive-thru line has never been so easy!


Bath soak infusion kit

maude bath soak infusion kit

Say hello to hydration! She'll be feeling smooth and relaxed as ever after a long bath soaking in these salts. This vegan + cruelty-free set incorporates dead sea salt and dehydrated coconut milk powder for an ultra hydrating experience.


Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

It's a hard-earned title she answers to a hundred times per day. Whether she's new to the club or a seasoned professional, this delicate script 'mama' necklace is guaranteed to be a perfect fit.


Superfood honey

Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered honey

With a lack of sleep and jam-packed days, getting through the afternoon can be a real challenge. Send her a powerful pick-me-up in the form of a therapeutic blend of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and raw honey. It makes the ideal companion for tea, smoothies, yogurt or even on its on.


Calming midnight mask with melatonin

Who doesn't deserve a reminder to pamper themself every once in awhile? Even better, this mask does all its work at night while you're sleeping with no extra effort needed. It's an amazing plant-powered antioxidant-packed mask that has melatonin, wild dandelion leaf and hyaluronic acid to rehydrate, repair and reset facial skin. It's so good, you might want to gift it to yourself. We won't tell, mama.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


Why do all of my good parenting or baby-focused inventions come after they've already been invented by someone else? Sigh.

Like the Puj hug hooded baby towel, aka the handiest, softest cotton towel ever created.

Safely removing a wet, slippery baby from the bath can be totally nerve-wracking, and trying to hold onto a towel at the same time without soaking it in the process seems to require an extra arm altogether. It's no wonder so much water ends up on the floor, the countertops, or you(!) after bathing your little one. Their splashing and kicking in the water is beyond adorable, of course, but the clean up after? Not as much.

It sounds simple: Wash your child, sing them a song or two, let them play with some toys, then take them out, place a towel around them, and dry them off. Should be easy, peasy, lemon squeezy, right?

But it hasn't been. It's been more—as one of my favorite memes says—difficult, difficult, lemon difficult. Because until this towel hit the bathtime scene, there was no easy-peasy way to pick up your squirming wet baby without drenching yourself and/or everything around you.

Plus, there is nothing cuter than a baby in a plush hooded towel, right? Well, except when it's paired with a dry, mess-free floor, maybe.

Check out our favorites to make bathtime so much easier:

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Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

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