In the midst of the holiday season, it’s important to get children involved in your family’s holiday activities and preparations. During this time of year, parents’ stress levels can become highly elevated with the need to get many chores done in time for the holidays, which is the perfect reason to have your kids be holiday helpers.

When pressure and stress are high, parents may sometimes find themselves not including kids in the process, knowing that it takes both time and supervision. However, this inclusion is important for increasing cooperation and happiness in kids, and it also can be a valuable time for family bonding.

Try these eight ideas to involve your children in this year’s holiday preparations:

  1. Make decorations: Most kids love art projects, so involve them in preparing decorations such as making place cards or menus.
  2. Create thank you cards: Get a jump start on thank you notes by having your kids create cards or write addresses on envelopes.
  3. Plan a menu: Take your child grocery shopping and let them help select a menu for a holiday meal.
  4. Set the table: Ask your child to help set the table – even two-year-olds can be really good at this.
  5. Be a DJ: Let an older child design a music playlist as background sound for a holiday party.
  6. Read holiday books: Read holiday-specific books, listen to holiday music, or participate in a fun family activity to get them engaged in the season.
  7. Volunteer: Consider participating in a community service activity like working at a food bank, donating toys, or volunteering at a senior center to increase gratitude and a sense of giving for the season.
  8. Make goodie bags: Ask kids to help make bags of goodies or other little holiday presents for teachers, coaches or anyone else you acknowledge on the holidays.

Although it may take more time and effort on your part to involve your kids, it is a great way to make sure they are engaged in your family’s traditions and holiday spirit. It also can be an excellent opportunity to spend time together and work on family projects. Ask your kids what they would like to help with – they might surprise you!


Eleanor Mackey, PhD, is a child psychologist and works primarily with the Obesity Institute and Children’s Research Institute. Dr. Mackey is also a mother of two girls.

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