Pass­ing Down Hol­i­day Tra­di­tions

Fam­i­lies pre­pare for the most fes­tive time of year


The hol­i­day sea­son is a busy one—with gifts to wrap, meals to pre­pare and homes to dec­o­rate. While many tasks are un­der­taken by mom and dad, even lit­tle ones can help with the prepa­ra­tions.


Bess Charles, cake de­signer and co-owner of LadyCakes bak­ery in Cape Coral, has fond mem­o­ries of help­ing out over the hol­i­days, in­clud­ing mak­ing cook­ies. It’s a hol­i­day tra­di­tion that she now takes on with her daugh­ter, Kate­lyne. “Even to­day, I still en­joy work­ing with my mother, and now my daugh­ter, in the kitchen and cre­at­ing many hol­i­day cook­ies for us to share with fam­ily,” says Charles.

Charles would also al­ways in­vite friends over to make gin­ger­bread houses, which she now does with Kate­lyne. Once fin­ished, the gin­ger­bread house is proudly dis­played in her bak­ery, which is lo­cated at 2924 Del Prado Blvd. Its web­site is ilove­la­dy­ A ba­sic recipe for mak­ing a gin­ger­bread house can be found at food­net­


Help­ing dec­o­rate the Christ­mas tree is a per­fect task for young­sters of all ages, and a lovely and sim­ple idea is to string pop­corn or cran­ber­ries. Use fish­ing line or em­broi­dery line in lengths of 5 feet or shorter, to make it eas­ier to man­age. Tie a knot at one end, thread a nee­dle and push through the cen­ter of each cran­berry or ker­nel. (When string­ing pop­corn, let the popped ker­nels sit for a day or two so they harden.)

Dec­o­rat­ing the tree can also in­clude adding clear plas­tic or­na­ments that are en­hanced with glued-on col­or­ful craft paint, glit­ter and fab­ric scraps. Or use pic­tures of fa­vorite peo­ple, places and things. Photos of fam­ily mem­bers and pets look great, and even fes­tive cut-outs from mag­a­zines work well. Tied with pretty bows, the or­na­ments also make great gifts for grand­par­ents.

To en­hance clear plas­tic or­na­ments, first gather up sup­plies such as glit­ter, pic­tures, fab­ric scraps and rib­bon. Then re­move the metal tops and hang­ers from the or­na­ments. Squirt all-pur­pose glue on the out­side. Add glit­ter and fab­ric scraps to the glue. Once set, add craft paint. Put the or­na­ments up­side down in

pa­per cups or other con­tain­ers so they can dry. Once dry, re­place the metal tops and hang­ers. Us­ing rib­bon, tie bows to the tops.


Chil­dren also love to help wrap gifts. In ad­di­tion to as­sist­ing with fold­ing cor­ners and tap­ing, young­sters can dec­o­rate the gift pa­per by us­ing col­or­ful, wa­ter-sol­u­ble mark­ers and/or craft paints. Hol­i­day draw­ings and a child’s hand­writ­ten sig­na­ture on gifts add a spe­cial “wow fac­tor” to the out­side of pack­ages.

Use white or brown craft pa­per, acrylic paint and/or wa­ter-sol­u­ble mark­ers. Cut the craft pa­per into pieces that are large enough to wrap gifts. Place on a flat sur­face and tape down cor­ners. Paint and/or draw on the sur­face of the pa­per; let dry.


“I have my young ones make hol­i­day placemats by dec­o­rat­ing pa­per with pic­tures, glit­ter and draw­ings that are sealed with clear con­tact pa­per on each side of the pa­per,” ex­plains Kathryn Knowles of Fort Myers. She then asks her chil­dren to use the placemats when they help set the ta­ble. “They love it and it keeps them oc­cu­pied,” Knowles adds.

To make the placemats, take pieces of col­or­ful con­struc­tion pa­per and set on a flat sur­face. Us­ing craft paint or mark­ers, cre­ate de­signs on one side of the pa­per. Add glue and glit­ter on top of the de­sign. Once dry, cover both sides with clear con­tact pa­per. Trim to the edges of the pa­per.

At all times of the year, and es­pe­cially dur­ing the hol­i­days, en­cour­ag­ing chil­dren to pitch in helps them un­der­stand the im­por­tance of help­ing out. Plus, the tasks they learn might even be passed down to the next gen­er­a­tion.

A va­ri­ety of chil­dren’s hol­i­day pro­grams and work­shops are of­fered through Lee County Parks & Recre­ation.

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