Simple Ways to Make Your Kids’ Christmas Wishes Reality

What do kids want for Christmas?

Recently I saw a great commercial from IKEA Spain asking kids to write 2 lists of Christmas wishes: one to give to Santa Claus and another to give to their parents. What they said really surprised me. Watch it here:

The Christmas wishes for Santa were just what you’d expect: full of fun, fanciful toys. A Wii. A guitar. A flying unicorn!

But the wish lists for the parents? Surprisingly, these Christmas wishes were much more simple: Kids just want their parents to spend time with them. To listen to them. Essentially, to build memories.

How hard could that be? Well, it may be harder than you think…

We’ve read the articles on how distracted parenting is not good for our kids. We’re more wired and connected than we’ve ever been, and families are changing because of it. We’ve got smart phones and video games and computers that make it easy to spend time in the same room without really spending time together. But I’ll stop right there, because you probably already know all about that. Don’t worry — no guilt trips here!

Wired or not, it’s always been important to spend time with your kids. Kids learn by observing us, by talking with us, by doing things with us. As we spend time together, we are basically saying, “This is how to be an adult. Let me model it for you so you know what to do when you get there.” So what are you modeling to your kids? And — yikes — what conversations are you missing when you omit opportunity to connect?

Simple Ways to Make Your Kids' Christmas Wishes Come True

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How can you make your kids’ Christmas wishes come true this year?

Here are some simple ideas that don’t even need to wait to be opened at Christmas:

1. Make Christmas Wishes Come True by Listening

This one sounds really simple, but it can be more difficult than you’d think. It takes some practice to be mindful of your kids these days.

True confessions time: I have noticed that I tend to grab for my cell phone when there’s a lull in the conversation or play. But what kind of message does that send? Does it show my kids that I’m ready to listen? Not so much. (Eek! Sorry, kids. Mom’s trying!)

If I try to cut that tendency in half, I would create so many more opportunities to connect, just by showing my kids that I’m ready and willing to listen. There’s some Christmas wishes come true!

Unplug and listen to your kids

2. Make Christmas Wishes Come True by Talking

Okay, so when you get started listening to your kids, the next step is to talk with them.

Common Ground

Find topic that you’re both interested in and discuss. Your sports team’s game? Perfect. The latest episode of Doctor Who? Brilliant. Who is Taylor Swift singing about in that song you keep getting stuck in your head? Go with it! Just find something you can use to your benefit, and build your relationship.

What Happened Today?

Take turns talking about what happened in your day and in his. Ask him about that science quiz, what books they read during circle time, or what they’re learning in music class. Find out who he’s eating lunch with and what they like to talk about.

Tell him about that important meeting you had with your boss. Confess your bout of road rage to your teenager, and you may find yourself talking about responsibility and the power of a vehicle. Opening those opportunities to converse isn’t as difficult as it may seem… and it can lead to such valuable conversation!

Connect with your kids

3. Make Christmas Wishes Come True by Doing Stuff Together

In our very busy schedules these days, this one might take some redefining. When I say ‘activities,’ I’m not talking about enrolling your child in something else to do after school. I don’t even mean that you have to plan anything new or different to do. Simply include your kids in your normal activities — anything can be a great opportunity to spend time together — time that will naturally lead to those important conversations that we talked about earlier.

Cook Dinner Together

A friend told me, “My son loves to cook. Some of our most meaningful moments have been in the kitchen covered with flour. We talk, laugh, and share yummy cookies with the family.” That sounds nice, doesn’t it? It’s worth a try to get in the kitchen together once in a while.

With the holidays coming up, try planning to bake treats for the neighbors. You’ll make Christmas wishes happen for your family and theirs! Even very young kids can help dump ingredients into the mixing bowl. It may be a little messy or take some more time, but it’s worth the extra effort sometimes. 

Play Games Together

Here’s something that would even make my Christmas wishes come true: pick out a family-friendly, age appropriate game that you all can get into. Don’t get caught up in the winning and losing. I have a fierce competitive streak (ahem), so when I play games with my kids, I have to intentionally take off the “strategy” hat and become a student of my kids. (Is anyone else like that? Just me? Okay.)

That’s right — I study my kids during game play! Watching how they play teaches me a lot about their individual personalities. Here are some games we’ve enjoyed together — they’d make great Christmas gifts (affiliate links):

Visit the Library

… Or schedule a visit from the “Amazon Fairy” (haha), and get some books to read together. If you’re just beginning this practice, good for you! Research indicates that one of the best things you can do is read aloud to children.

For younger kids, you might begin with a goal to read 1-2 age-appropriate books before nap or bed time. And if you have older kids, they still need you, too! Set a goal to read about 20 minutes before bed each night, and begin reaping the benefits of reading with your child.

Not sure where to start? We’ve recommended manners books, Christmas books, books for kindergarten readiness, and books for baby sign language. Take a look or grab some ideas from this list — these would all make great gifts or stocking stuffers for those Christmas wishes (affiliate links):

Great Board Books:
  1. Little Blue Truck
  2. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
  3. Moby Dick: A BabyLit Ocean Primer
  4. Anything written by Sandra Boynton
  5. Jamberry
Great Picture Books:
  1. The Great Donut Parade
  2. Pirate vs. Pirate: The Terrific Tale of a Big Blustery Maritime Match
  3. Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit
  4. Pretend
  5. Stuck
Great Chapter Books:
  1. Charlotte’s Web
  2. Matilda
  3. The Phantom Tollbooth
  4. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
  5. Beezus and Ramona

Christmas activities for kids will make their wishes come true

So this year when you’re thinking about your kids’ Christmas wishes, keep in mind — sure, your kids want presents — but they also want your TIME. Devoting some extra attention to them may be just the thing to build a close relationship that lasts a lifetime. It doesn’t have to be grand or expensive. In fact, just the opposite…

Start small, keep it simple, and give your children their biggest Christmas wishes — spending time with you!

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About Aubrey Hunt
Before hopping on the crazy ride we call motherhood, I studied engineering and taught math and science to middle and high school students. Now, perhaps like you, I fill my days singing The Itsy Bitsy Spider and praying my preschooler will eat a vegetable — any vegetable!

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