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 iloveladycakes.com. A basic recipe for making a gingerbread house can be found at foodnetwork.com.
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.