1. Explain what to expect
If your child is old enough to understand, it can be helpful to tell them what to expect in the days and weeks before Christmas. For example, if you’re going to a party with family, you may want to explain to them how you expect the day to go. You can talk to them about how long you think it will take to travel to the party, how long you plan to be there and any house rules that they must follow. If they’re in for a long car ride or a long stay at someone else’s house, they might want to bring a favorite toy or book in order to feel more comfortable. If you’re hosting, your child might benefit from advance notice if they’re going to share a room with relatives or if they’re expected to share their toys with similar-aged children who visit.
Creating clear expectations can help your child feel comfortable in their new surroundings. It can help them conform their behavior to your expectations. Knowing what’s going on in advance can also help your child share in the excitement of their first Christmas as a family.
2. Include your adopted child in family traditions
It’s time to make some new memories as a family. If you have established family traditions, it’s time to include your new child in the fun. Even young children can go along on the family outing to pick out a Christmas tree. If you usually make Christmas cookies, remember that your adopted child wants to share in the fun. Your adopted child can feel like a part of the family when they’re included in your family traditions. Create age-appropriate ways for your child to join in on your family activities.
If you hang stockings by the fireplace, make a stocking for your new family member. If you give your children a new ornament each year, you can include your child in the tradition with their first ornament. Your child may carry these traditions on throughout their entire life. You can begin these beautiful traditions with your new child.
3. Help your child create memorial keepsakes
You only have one first Christmas with your adopted child. You can make it memorable by making sure that you memorialize the special time with keepsakes. Of course, you’re going to want to take lots of photographs. You might even take your child to take their photo with Santa. Perhaps you can put all of the photos into a handmade or printed photo book so they’re easy for your child to find and look at when they’re older.
You can find other ways for your child to make mementos of their first Christmas with your family. Perhaps your child can help write Christmas cards to family and friends. They might want to make their own Christmas ornaments or other craft projects. Homemade gifts are always a hit with family. These homemade items can help you remember your child’s first Christmas for years to come.
4. If your child has established traditions, celebrate them
An older child may come into your family with holiday traditions. Helping them continue to celebrate with these traditions can help you feel at home in your family. You can ask your child about the holiday traditions that are the most important to them. You can find ways to incorporate these traditions into your own family celebrations. Your child can feel valued and validated by helping your family learn new traditions for the Christmas season.
5. Plan for downtime
It’s normal to feel over-scheduled during the holidays. Adopted children may feel especially tired if the holiday schedule gets too busy. It’s important to include downtime in your holiday schedule. Children need time to adjust, and that means having time in between events to relax.
Even though it can be tempting to try to schedule something for every minute, your child also needs time to relax during their first Christmas with your family. Make sure that they get enough sleep and that they have a quiet place to recharge. If they attend school, they’re probably going to feel tired from school and holiday activities. As you plan to make your first Christmas together memorable, remember that you can plan too much. Finding the right balance can help ensure that your holiday is memorable without being overwhelming.
6. Remember that you don’t have to do it all
When you plan to make your first Christmas with an adopted child memorable, remember that it’s okay to take a deep breath and relax. Remember that what your child needs the most are you and your family. Keeping in mind what’s important can help you avoid disappointment when plans change or hiccups arise. Your first Christmas with your child will be memorable because you’re all together.
7. If you have an older child, involve them in planning and preparation
Older children can help you with planning for their first Christmas as a family. Your child might have certain things that they want to try. They can feel important if they have some say in what happens with your family as you spend your first Christmas all together. Trying new things can make Christmas exciting for your child and give your entire family some adventurous memories.
8. Remember that all families are different
As you spend your first Christmas together as a family, remember that there’s no right or wrong way to make memories together. Your family can do what’s best for you as you begin your journey as a family together. However you choose to spend your time and energies, your newly adopted child will have wonderful memories of their first Christmas as a family.
Celebrating your first Christmas with your adopted child
Welcoming an adopted child as a member of your family can make Christmas special. You and your child can make memories that last a lifetime. Give your child clear expectations about what’s ahead during the Christmas season. Make behavior expectations clear, and give your child plenty of rest time to recharge their energies. Involving your child in planning can give them a sense of inclusion and accomplishment. Showing your child your family traditions and creating new traditions together can make the season a wonderful celebration of your new, larger family.