Christmas & Holiday Themed Ideas
The holiday season is such a special time of the year. It is a wonderful time for us to spread the joy, peace and cheer of the season with others. In our schools and places of work, it is also a nice time to connect and share those holiday sentiments through cards, special greetings and gifts. Albeit cliche, it is definitely more of a time for giving than receiving! I encourage you and your students to find ways to reach your school families and communities this holiday season.
Below is a list of holiday outreach ideas for teachers in the general classroom and music programs:
1. Christmas cards - keep it simply by creating your own or, if you have the resources, buy professional cards; have the students sign and include a simple holiday greeting on behalf of your class or program; send to parents, administration, school board and community sponsors or businesses that are important to your work
Feel free to download and use the samples below to save some time. The first is a postcard (4x6") that has a generic Season's Greetings design on the front and can be personalized with a message on the back. The second is holiday letterhead (8.5x11") that can be used as a "card" where all of your students can sign their names.
2. Caroling - if you’re involved with a music program, gather a group of carolers (this can be done with small instrumental ensembles, too) and go around the school or campus to different classes; it is also a great opportunity to drop off a Christmas card to those faculty members
3. Holiday social - yes, it’s okay to take a day to celebrate the holiday season, especially after all of the work preparing and organizing a holiday concert is done, but consider helping your student council, National Honor Society or TRI-M Honor Society students host a special holiday lunch or social for the faculty and staff of your school
4. Gift tree - (this has to be one of my favorites) get your parent association involved with the guidance department to build a list of gifts for children in need from your school district or community; there are many ways to execute this - a literal “gift tree” where families buy specific gifts and return them or just have a collection of money in which a small group of parents/students go out and buy the gifts
5. Clothing drive - similar to the gift tree idea, offer to hold a collection of clothing/winter gear to be able to donate to a local shelter or community mission group; get other programs and clubs involved in your school to expand the reach
If you are looking to be extra creative (and some great fun!) and have the time in your schedule to organize events with your students, the following ideas are a nice way to stop the work for a bit and celebrate the holiday together:
6. Decorations - decorate the stage for the holiday/winter concerts with Christmas trees and lights; I used to organize a poinsettia memorial where families would purchase a plant in advance in honor or memory of a loved one, all of the donations would be listed in the program, the stage looked great with the plants and all those who bought a plant were able to take one home after the concert; students also love to decorate around the classroom or rehearsal spaces, too - let your student leadership organize among the students for a great team effort (maybe even have them offer to go around to other areas of the school, with permission, to decorate?)
7. Gift exchange - this can be done with gifts (I suggest placing a cost ‘cap’ like $5 or $10) or just with cards; it is great activity to have the students focusing on ‘giving’ rather than receiving
We are just beginning the height of the "Christmas card" season. Cards are still a great way to share with those closest to you that you are thinking about them at this joyous time of the year. I am a constant promoter of handwritten letters and cards in today's technologically driven world of communication. It is so satisfying and sincere to write old fashioned notes of congratulations, best wishes or, in this case, holiday greetings.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
Give Thanks to Those in Your Life
Thanksgiving provides us with the perfect opportunity to share our gratitude and thanks to the people in our daily lives. So often, especially in today’s busy world, we take for granted the relationships and daily interactions we have with family and friends. Let the celebration of Thanksgiving be different this year – STOP and make a note or card to share with those meaningful people in your life. Tell them how much they mean to you; thank them for all that they do for you; let them know you appreciate them!
Relationships are an integral part of life and they are also important to effective and successful business. We are constantly surrounded by people no matter what our work happens to be. People enjoy being valued and are more likely to be positively involved if they are treated the same way. Just like your family, the friends and co-workers in your professional circles need just the same amount of value and appreciation from you.
So, do this: take a few minutes from your days leading up to Thanksgiving and reach out to those people in your personal and professional worlds – family members, friends, co-workers, students, parents – and share with them why you are thankful for their relationship. Perhaps they have done something special recently or remember your birthday every year or just simply put a smile on your face every single day. Connect with them by sending a Thanksgiving card, writing a handwritten note, or simply stopping by to speak to them in person.
To help you save time, I have included a few card and letter templates that can be used for a variety of audiences.
I hope that you are able to find time to go the extra mile and prepare special, sincere messages for the people in your life this Thanksgiving. The genuine, handwritten notes and cards are worth it and extremely meaningful! Each year in the classroom I had my students write to other faculty or staff members on campus, and there would always be custodians and teachers who would stop me to share how much they appreciated the letters, or to say that the letters weren't necessary but they appreciated it anyway. The impact is great, I know, as I am reminded of “Mike the Custodian,” because every year he would tell me how much he loved receiving the letters from the students and that he still had the letters from previous years. That always made me feel good; it was really rewarding to know that a simple gesture like a handwritten letter saying ‘thank you’ made such a difference!
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, thank YOU for being a special part of my world and all of what TWC has to offer for you! As always, please let me know how I can help YOU be more awesome!
PS: Don’t eat too much turkey; you don’t want to fall asleep during the football games!
"Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow."