#1. Fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Christmas in Australia and New Zealand is a very special time in that it’s usually warm and sunny. Add to the mix almost every child’s insatiable appetite for water and water play and you have yourself a cheap yet highly entertaining family activity. If the local swimming pool or water park isn’t your thing because of the crowds, cast your eye to your backyard or nearby field or hill (just about any slight incline will do). Water sprinklers, inflatable pools and even the good old DIY slippery dip using a large tarp and dishwashing liquid is usually enough to elicit squeals of delight. Bonus: exhausted kids by the end of the day.
#2. Make a list—and check it twice
Yes, Christmas cards may sound old-fashioned and boring, but sitting together as a family to write down a list of recipients is a great opportunity to teach your children care and compassion. Encourage them to think beyond obvious family members. What about people who need some love this Christmas? The postman, seniors at a residential home, a widowed neighbour. . . . Get your craft on and create your own Christmas cards to make this even more affordable. Remember, you don’t need to be Hallmark—even your three-year-old’s scribbles add a wonderful splash of colour.
#3. The stars are brightly shining
It could be that street or the house. You know the one where its residents go all out with the Christmas decorations and lights? Every neighbourhood has one. After the sun has gone down, take the family for a drive to gape at them in their full glory. Even better, park the car, stroll along the footpath and take the time to appreciate the decorations in detail.
#4. The world in solemn stillness lay
Give your children a treat and let them stay awake past their bedtime sometime this Christmas holidays with a movie or two at home. Christmas-themed films are often warm, fuzzy and family-friendly, and a great way for young and old to enjoy each other’s company in relative peace and quiet, spellbound by the flickering screen. Wondering what to watch? The Star on Netflix is an amusing animated film with a new twist on the story of the Baby in the manger, or catch a more faithful dramatisation on Stan with The Nativity Story.
#5. With th’ angelic host proclaim
Belting out Christmas carols on a balmy December evening should not be overlooked whether you’re still doing the iso thing or attending a (socially-distanced) event at the park. The real reason for the season often comes to the fore in many a Christmas song, celebrating the birth of “the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay” some 2000 years ago. While free carols by candlelight events are a fun night out for all ages and a fabulous community bonding event, it’s still entirely
possible—and highly encouraged—to sing to your heart’s content with just your family at home. If you like, you can sing along to a Spotify playlist or a concert DVD, light some candles and enjoy the feel-good vibes that come with communal singing.
#6. Our eyes at last shall see Him
Science has demonstrated that reading aloud to our children promotes healthy brain development and has great psychological benefits. In the early years, it also helps babies build up their vocabulary. In older children, it helps them to develop sustained attention and strong listening skills. Not only that, but the very act itself helps strengthen the parent-child bond. Children are always interested in the reason why, so borrow books from the library, read though the first two chapters of Luke in the Bible, or listen to podcasts or audiobooks together to help them understand the origins of Christmas. Allow them to see that the real reason we give gifts during Christmas is to remind each other of the best gift God gave to humanity—the gift of Jesus Christ.
Melody Tan is a proud parent living in Sydey who heads up the Mums At The Table (MATT) community. MATT connects mums online, provides helpful resources and ideas, and organises meet-ups all around Australia and New Zealand.