Creating holiday traditions as a military family can get tricky. The schedule of our loved one can be unpredictable with duty days, unscheduled underways and even extended deployments. There was a time our family went through 3-4 years where my husband was gone for either Thanksgiving or Christmas. It was tough. We managed by getting creative on how we celebrated the holidays. We learned to be flexible and celebrate a day early, a day late and sometimes even a few weeks early, or a few weeks late. Celebrating a holiday can indeed be adjusted to fit your family’s unpredictable schedule.
As you finalize your holiday plans keep in mind spending time working on a craft can be both fun and relaxing. I find the trick is to pick things that are simple and not too complicated. Doing activities that can take your mind off a long deployment/mobilization is a great way to relieve stress.
Here are 4 Thanksgiving inspired DIY projects that can help you create some fun memories with your children, other spouses in your command, neighbors and friends:
Thankful Tree: This is an easy and fun project for everyone at the Thanksgiving table. Have everyone write down 2-3 things they are thankful for on cut out leaves. Arrange the tree branches in a container and then use a small piece of double stick tape to attach the cut out leaves to a branch.
Small Tree branches
Crayons and/or markers
Container/vase with filler at the bottom (rocks, pinecones, paper, etc.)
Pinecone Turkey: Have your kids trace their hands with a pencil onto construction paper and then write on each of the “tails/fingers” something they are thankful for this year. Use scissors to cut out the paper hands and then glue to the back of the pinecone. Trace at turkey’s head on the construction paper, cut out and glue to the front of the pinecone (see photo above). These cute pinecone turkeys can be used as placeholders.
Harvest Centerpiece featuring Trail Mix: Creating a fall harvest centerpiece can be quick and easy. Here is a simple recipe that is both yummy and colorful. Place a flameless candle in the center of a glass container/hurricane or vase. Fill the container with the harvest trail mix (recipe below). Feel free to substitute your favorite peanuts (honey or dry roasted peanuts, mixed nuts, etc.) and even add more M&M’s.
Harvest trail mix
Harvest Trail Mix:
2 cups candy corn
2 cups dry roasted peanuts
1 cup M&M’s (fall colors)
Thankful Mini-Placemats: Create a simple printout that prompts your dinner guests to write down what they are thankful for this year, “I’m Thankful For…”. This can be printed on cardstock, computer paper, or even scrapbook paper.
If your loved one is far from home this holiday, set up a Skype date or video tape your craft activities to share with them. Keeping them involved in these activities is one way to creatively communicate through the miles.
How are you connecting with your spouse while they are gone? What are your favorite DIY crafts for this time of year? Share your ideas and insight by leaving a comment below.
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