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How to make meaningful memories this holiday


Published: 11/09/2015

by Marcus Johnson

• Make your own gifts. Drawings, cookies, jams, and hand-made decorations are a special way to show your love for friends and family. Buy white mugs from the dollar store, paint the outside with chalkboard paint and wrap with a few pieces of coloured chalk for a fun and useful gift.

It's about that time of year again, when your to-do list grows along with your stress levels as you try to get ready for the holidays. This year, why not swap all the shopping, cooking and cleaning for some meaningful memories instead?

Not only will it simplify your holidays, it will also keep your family focused on what's really important.

• Create family rituals. Whether it's decorating the tree, baking cookies with Grandma or watching your favourite holiday movies together, creating rituals will give everyone some extra-special time together. Make a holiday calendar by hanging a piece of string, numbering clothespins and clipping an activity to each day—from sharing hot cocoa to ice skating or getting an extra hug at bedtime.

• Help children around the world. Instead of buying toys, give vulnerable children life-saving gifts. UNICEF offers a Survival Gifts catalogue with more than 60 vital supplies, from baby blankets and vaccines to pencils and education for girls. You can even give in someone else's name. These gifts come with a tax deductible receipt. More information is available online at

• Volunteer. Have your kids fill a box with toys they no longer play with and donate them to a children's charity. Give food, clothing and your time to local homeless shelters. Your kids can also create hand-made cards for children who will spend the holidays in hospital. A mailing list is available online at

• Give coupons. Draw up some fun and colourful coupons and hand them out as gifts. Offer to babysit, cook a meal, go for a walk, play a board game, or read an extra story at bedtime.

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