With the economy in shambles, many parents are struggling to find a way to create that magical Christmas for their children. I myself was facing this same dilemma, trying to conjure up ways to put on my "mommy" face and not let them know that this year Santa was broke. While looking over the abundance of toys they have acquired over the years, I was struck with an idea... an idea that is so anti-modern Christmas that it just may work! Substituting presents with memories! What?! How can someone pull that off? It's actually easier than I thought, and here is how:
Step One: Assess your budget. How much do you usually spend per child? This is important because you need a figure to work down from. Sure you could just say "here is what I have and that's that", but if you see your past totals and are able to cut it in half and pull this off you will get a tremendous sense of accomplishment which is your own little "awesome parent" bonus gift. In my case it was $700.00 and that was my number to cut in half.
Step Two: Decide where you want to spend Christmas. Whether it's in your town, or a relatives each place has something to offer that you may have over looked. Once you decide on where, Google that towns tourism web site (IE: http://www.800padutch.com/) for a complete listing of activities, hotels and restaurants. You may be surprised to see what you find! I chose Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. When most people hear that, thoughts of Amish horse drawn buggies fill their minds. What they tend to over look is that Lancaster has literally thousands of things to do.
Step Three: Now you look at how much money you can comfortably part with, the list of available activities in your selected town, and your child’s interests. The tourists website’s typically provide links to each activity, once you find those links you can check rates and availability.
Step Four: Book it, book it, and book it! If you can’t afford to do it just now, I have found that if you call the listed numbers for the location you are trying to book, they will typically take your reservation over the phone without requiring a credit card like the websites often do.
Step Five: Review the places you are going to, see if there are any locations or activities nearby.
Step Six: Enjoy!
So what did I achieve with my 20 minutes of trying to piece together a Christmas vacation? I booked a 3 night stay aboard a steamboat, set up a complete Christmas meal from honey baked ham, purchased tickets to a children’s musical presentation of “Holly Jolly Christmas” and set up a day trip to The Choo Choo Barn (a building full of nothing but train sets). My total cost? $337.58 and memories that will last my sons a lifetime! It is so affordable that I am thinking this is going to be a family tradition that will also result in a train collection! It’s not about presents, fancy games, gift receipts or even spreading a message, it’s about spending time with your children, and bonding with them without the stress of holidays. After all isn’t the magic of Christmas about love and family?