Recently the hospitality queens over at Love Feast Table featured a post about keeping Christmas sweet and simple. Sandy from the Reluctant Entertainer shared her encouraging thoughts and ended with a question "What are some ways that you find peace in the Christmas season?"
This inquiry has motivated me to be more purposeful in my seeking of peace in my home this holiday season. Among other things, I know I can encourage peace by providing relaxing non-electronic activities for my family and I to enjoy as we wish. Last weekend my husband and children randomly gathered at the kitchen table to draw and write messages to our family in Maryland. The Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack was playing softly in the background, our decorated tree was glowing in the next room, and I was struck by the moment of idyllic peacefulness. Sprinkled among the episodes of Sponge Bob and battles on the Wii, I desire more of these type instances.
In addition to a new box of crayons and some Christmas coloring books, I am also providing a large puzzle for my family to enjoy this year. Last Christmas we set up a 500 piece puzzle on a table in the game room. Different combinations of us would stop by the puzzle table, interact, and add a few pieces at a time until it was completed. This simple act that reminds me of my childhood facilitated family unity and calm in our often electronic saturated environment.
Another activity that promotes peace in our home is working with play dough. The act of kneading, rolling, and punching a large mass helps to release holiday tension and stress in people of all ages. My youngest child loves to play bake shop with me and my older children often join in under the guise of assisting their little brother. It is nice that I can be cooking or washing dishes while they are busy and content in the kitchen.
This year I am thrilled to add a recipe for Gingerbread Play Dough to my dough repertoire. It comes from a book by the Ooey Gooey Lady who is my newest early childhood education hero. The dough is soft and pliable and looks and smells just like gingerbread. Making real cookies can sometimes be frustrating for young children because they just want to play with the dough that their mother tells them should not be overworked. Gingerbread Play Dough, however, gets better the more it is pinched and prodded. After my five year old son tires of helping me make real cookies at the counter, he can enjoy his gingerbread play dough at the kitchen table. To go along with the big ball of dough, I've gathered a garlic press, wooden skewers, a rolling pin, buttons, and cookie cutters on a Christmas tray for hours of peaceful fun.
Gingerbread Play Dough is also the perfect prop for acting out your favorite version of The Gingerbread Boy story. Reading aloud is another activity that brings peace to our sometimes hectic lives. I have a basket of Christmas books next to the sofa so that when things start to get crazy I can curl up with my children and share a good book.
I am grateful that Sandy's question motivated me to contemplate peace for my family. Armed with crayons, a puzzle, some seasonal books, and a batch of Gingerbread Play Dough, I think I can counter the mayhem and truly enjoy this Christmas holiday. Merry Christmas!
Gingerbread Play Dough Recipe
1 package gingerbread mix
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups salt
6 teaspoons cream of tartar
6 Tablespoons oil
3 cups water
- Mix all of the ingredients together in a large heavy bottomed pot, using an electric mixer or large wooden spoon.
- Stir constantly while cooking over medium heat until a ball forms.
- Remove from heat and place dough on a floured board.
- Knead warm dough.
- Store in a zip-lock bag or air-tight container.
Linked to the following merry blog parties:
T.G.I.F., Fun for the Kids Friday, Get Your Brag On, For the Kids Friday, Fun Stuff Friday, For the Kids Friday, Handmade on Humpday, Homeschooling on the Cheap, Christmas Traditions,