PRIME TIME WITH KIDS: Make holiday cleanup family time

By Donna Erickson

Five-year-old Jane Richards recycles holiday cards into “thank you” notes.

It feels anticlimactic: Eating the last of heated-up holiday leftovers, taking down the Christmas tree and hauling tattered boxes overflowing with decorations up to the attic or down to the basement. Living in Sweden when two of our kids were young, we learned how Swedes put a positive spin on the duty by calling it “julgranspludring,” which basically means “saying goodbye to Christmas until next year.” Traditionally, families sing and dance around the tree for a final hurrah, then throw it out the door! The grand finale is taking time to eat cookies and drink hot chocolate together.

However you celebrated your special religious and family traditions in December, here are four activities to pick and choose from that your family might do this week as you sort through holiday memories.

—While the holidays might be over, winter is still blowing through, and it gets dark early in the evening. I like to add some sparks of happiness to the inside of the house, since it looks bare and dreary when the decor is gone. Keep white minilights strung around windows to brighten the kitchen and family room on cloudy afternoons and dark evenings. Light candles at dinnertime. Tape handmade paper snowflakes in your children’s windows and line up snowman figures on a bookcase.

—Recycle holiday cards into thank-you notes, then take a “field trip” to the post office. Cut off the front of a card that depicts a wintery scene or colorful design. On the plain backside, help your kids write a thank-you note. Tuck them into envelopes and go to the post office to mail the letters the old-fashioned way. Ask to see commemorative stamps and let your kids choose as you explain to them the people or events represented. “Who is Maya Angelou, Elvis Presley or John F. Kennedy currently featured on Forever stamps?” your youngest may ask. They’ll love adhering the illustrative stamps they’ve learned about on their letters, and dropping them in the mail slot.

—Display holiday photo cards of far-flung relatives and best friends on your family message board. Arrange at child height and refer to them throughout the new year to keep your kids familiar with the important people in their life.

—Don’t pack away holiday ornaments, glassware and linens with a heart motif quite yet. Put them aside, along with bright-red serving trays and dishes, to use in February for Valentine’s Day.


Donna Erickson’s award-winning series “Donna’s Day” is airing on public television nationwide. To find more of her creative family recipes and activities, visit and link to the NEW Donna’s Day Facebook fan page. Her latest book is “Donna Erickson’s Fabulous Funstuff for Families.”

© 2018 Donna Erickson; Distributed by King Features Syndicate


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