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Ohio State University Extension


First Grade: Holidays—What a Great Time!

Backpack Buddies for December
Family and Consumer Sciences
Rose Fisher Merkowitz, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences/Community Development, Highland County.
Betsy DeMatteo, Extension Program Coordinator—Family and Consumer Sciences, Hamilton County.

"TIME"—A Friend or Foe?

"Time is the only strictly limited resource we have. We can borrow money, rent space, and buy equipment, but everyone is gifted with only 24 hours each day. Through all the devices and techniques known today there is no way to get more hours in a day. It is up to each of us to make the very best use of every minute in each day since it will not pass our way again."

C.W. Lifer

Each year you tell yourself that this year the holidays will be different: "I will have presents bought and wrapped early." "I will not stay up past midnight to finish my holiday baking." "I will not overeat, overspend, and become so overtired that the holidays pass by in a blur of activity." Yeah, right!

So, how do you juggle holiday activities when you are already too busy? Before your head begins to swim with everything you want to do, take a few minutes to make a holiday action plan. Set aside days on your December calendar for shopping, baking, gift wrapping, and family time.

Here are some tips to help make the holidays more manageable.

Tips for Handling the Holidays

  • Spend time with people instead of things during the holidays. Having fun making cookies is more important than beautiful cookies. Children remember the time you spend together, not how nice the decorations look.
  • Spread holiday fun over several days so all the excitement doesn't get to be too much for your children. 
  • Do not expect children to be happy all of the time. They may feel upset by the changes in routine or the stress and frustration of their parents. 
  • Remember, the needs of your children remain the same regardless of the holiday. Try to keep routines as close to normal as possible.
  • Involve other family members in holiday preparations.

Are you interested in more information about reducing stress and helping to keep your children healthy? Check out the Family Guide website created by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): For holiday stress reliever ideas, enter "holiday stress" in the search box.

Keeping Up With the Kids

Quick Tips for Keeping the Kids Busy During the Holidays

Little hands love to be a part of the holiday activities. Here are a few ideas that you and your child may want to try.

String popcorn and cranberries for tree decorations. (Easier for older children to do as popcorn tends to crumble.) Younger children can string Cheerios and cranberries to hang outside for the birds to eat. (Use blunt-ended yarn needles.)

Packaging squiggles garland. Make a garland of white packaging foam packing squiggles. Watch that children do not put these in their mouths. Packaging foam is not edible. (Hint: Dip the end of the string or yarn in melted paraffin to make a "needle" which will be stiff and yet bend. Masking tape or scotch tape can also be used to tape the end of the yarn into a needle shape.)

Modeling Clay Homemade Recipe:

  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup salt
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon food coloring (red or green for holidays)

Combine flour, salt, and cream of tartar in pan (preferably nonstick). Mix liquids and gradually stir them into dry ingredients. When mixture is smooth, cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until dough leaves sides of pan and forms a ball. Remove from heat and knead until smooth. This is a pliable and long-lasting play dough. Store in an airtight container or plastic bag. Children can use this with holiday cookie cutters.

Happy Holidays!

Sources: Joyce Murphy, Early Childhood Educator; Melinda Hill, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences.


Galinsky, Ellen, and Judy David. 1988. "Dear Ones Care." In The Preschool Years: Family Strategies That Work. Crown Publishing Group.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2006. "Managing Holiday Stress." Family Guide

Van Horn, Jill E. 2002. "Make Holiday Times Special Times." Family Time, Work Time. 

Edited by: Rose Fisher Merkowitz, Extension Educator—Family and Consumer Sciences, Highland County; Kathy L. Jelley, Extension Educator—Family and Consumer Sciences, Brown County; and Scott Scheer, Professor and Extension Specialist—Human and Community Resource Development and 4-H Youth Development, The Ohio State University.

Revised by: Betsy DeMatteo, Extension Program Coordinator—Family and Consumer Sciences, Hamilton County.

Originally posted Dec 9, 2010.