Holidays can be difficult for children during a divorce.  To ease the pain, establish new traditions for you and your children to enjoy over the holidays.  New Christmas activities will bring you and your children together and give them joy during this trying time.  If possible, plan a joint Christmas celebration with your spouse because that will help your children feel you both still love them.  If that’s not practical, plan new activities for you and your children to enjoy.  The important thing is to make certain your children feel loved during this special time of year.

Keep Your Children Informed.  Discuss the holiday season with them and ask each child what they would like to do that would be special for them.  Let your children know things will be different this year, but that doesn’t mean the holidays will be bad.  Explain that mommy and daddy don’t live together anymore, but still love and care for them.  Tell the children exactly what you plan for the holidays, when they will see you and what you will be doing with them.  

Stay in Touch.  Even if you are not with your children on Christmas day, that’s no reason you can’t be there in spirit.  Call, send a small present or a card with a short message of love.  Your children will appreciate your thoughtfulness.  

Start New Traditions.  Don’t try to recreate familiar family holidays because they will remind your children of the loss.  Cook a ham, a duck or roast a rabbit for Christmas Dinner in place of the traditional turkey.  Or, go to a nice restaurant with your children.  Perhaps you can rediscover the meaning of Christ’s birthday or research your ethnic background and do a Scottish, Irish, German or French holiday. 

Make an Advent Calendar.  An Advent Calendar makes counting the days until Christmas more fun for your children because it’s packed with daily prizes.  Advent Calendars are easy to make or you can buy them at a local store.  To make a Advent Calendar, take candy or trinket filled colored envelopes and tack them to a calendar board.  You can also include candy canes or gingerbread men in the envelopes for your children.  

Visit a Tree Farm.  Start the holiday season right by visiting a tree farm to select and cut your very own Christmas tree.  Let your children find the perfect tree by themselves.  They will remember it forever.  Tree farms also have sleigh rides, hay rides, train rides and other family friendly activities.  When you get the tree home, let the children string the lights and decorate it. 

See the Christmas Lights.  Many neighborhoods, businesses and Universities decorate with Christmas lights during the holiday season.  In the middle of December, take the children around your city looking at the different decorations.  Take pictures and let each child choose his or her favorite set of lights and decorations.

Read a Christmas Story.  Bring out your favorite Christmas story and begin an annual tradition by reading it on Christmas Eve before bedtime.  Designate one family member as the reader or take turns passing around the book so everyone can take part in the fun.  If you won’t be with your children on Christmas Eve, record a story and send it to them so they can hear your voice reading to them on that special evening.

Cook Christmas Breakfast.  Start a Holiday tradition by cooking a favorite Christmas breakfast for the children.  If they like traditional food, make scrambled eggs, bacon and pancakes or waffles.  You can top the pancakes or waffles with syrup, little candies, fruit, yogurt or whipped cream.  If your children are adventurous, you can make kitsch or corned beef hash for breakfast.  It doesn’t matter what you cook, the important thing is to choose a favorite dish and cook it every year for Christmas breakfast.

Hunt for Presents.  Take the presents from under the tree and hide them around the house instead.  Assemble envelopes from Santa with instructions telling the children where he hid the presents.  You can give each child an envelope and let them take out slips of paper one at a time and hunt for that present.  When they find the present, they can bring it into the living room to open with everyone else.

Bake Cookies with The Kiddies.  Stir up some holiday cheer by mixing and baking a batch of fresh cookies with the children.  Assign little ones an easy task, such as adding pre-measured ingredients to a bowl.  Let them roll out the dough and cut or shape it into their favorite cookies.  When the cookies are baked and cool, give each child their own batch to decorate.  Lay out different colored frostings and small candies for them.  

Create a Digital Holiday Scrapbook.  Want to collect memories of your new holiday traditions?  Take pictures and organize them into a digital scrapbook.  You can enhance the pictures by adding music or a narrative.  Upload the set and send it to your family and friends.  Save a copy so you can relive past holiday fun with your children.  The important point is to do different things this holiday season.  Get your children involved; they will appreciate the love and attention during this tough time.

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