Christmas – it’s the most wonderful time of year, right? In 2020, this sentiment might elicit a few more ‘Bah, humbugs!’ than usual. COVID-19 has put a dampener on the holiday spirit, but that doesn’t mean you have to go full Ebenezer Scrooge.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed this Christmas, don’t worry – Orchard Fostering are here to help. We’ve consulted with Santa’s elves and have pulled together some tips for foster parents this Christmas. Read on to find plenty of fun Christmas activities for foster children, and ways to make this Christmas with your foster child one to remember.

Get creative with the Christmas decorations

With Christmas a little confined this year, you may find yourself and your foster children spending a lot of time at home. While decorating the Christmas tree is a great tradition, why not take things a step further this year, by creating your own Christmas decorations?

Take an afternoon, and get to work. You can use cereal boxes, wrapping paper, tinfoil – anything will do. Cut out classic Christmas shapes, like stars, Christmas trees, even Santa Claus himself. Punch a hole in the top of your decoration and thread some string through it. Hang it on the tree and Christmas can truly kick off.

This activity works well, especially if it’s your foster child’s first Christmas in your home. Decoration creation is one of the great Christmas craft ideas for foster children. It can act as a new tradition, and give your foster child their own decoration to hang on the tree – making them feel part of the family.

Host a Christmas Zoom party

Christmas is all about gathering together. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has made that element of Christmas unfeasible. However – all is not lost. You can still have a family get-together this year – it’ll just be through a screen.

Get into your matching PJs, and invite your family and friends to a Christmas Zoom party. You can play some Christmas games, take part in some online carol singing, or even stage a Christmas Zoom movie marathon (our recommendations: It’s a Wonderful Life, The Muppet Christmas Carol, and Home Alone).

Whatever you decide to do, a Christmas Zoom party can be even better than the real thing – because you can invite family and friends from all over. Introduce your foster child to your American cousins, your Swedish grand-uncle, and your Kiwi best pal – and make it a Christmas to remember.

Help alleviate gift anxiety with Secret Santa

 Foster children can have anxieties around gifts. Too much attention on Christmas day – and a potential lack of gift-receiving/giving with their birth family – might cause tension for your foster child. You can help reduce this anxiety by doing Secret Santa.

Secret Santa works like so – your family draws names from a hat. Whoever you get is your responsibility – you must get them a gift. You could bake them a Christmas cake, find them that perfect book, or give them their own personal Christmas decoration. After opening their gift, the giftee has to guess who the identity of their Secret Santa. You can do Secret Santa on top of regular gift-giving – it’s a great way to form bonds, particularly between your foster children and your birth children.

Remember – Christmas is an emotional time for foster children

Christmas can be tough on foster children. Make sure to talk about Christmas with your foster child with empathy and understanding. Be prepared to utilise coping skills for anxiety this Christmas – in particular around giving and receiving gifts, new traditions, and having visitors over (if this is a possibility in 2020). These events can be triggering for a foster child, and having a conversation about them in the run-up to Christmas can go a long way towards reducing anxiety.

Perhaps the toughest element of Christmas is its focus on family time, which can sometimes bring up conflicting emotions in foster children. In particular, Christmas can create pangs of loss related to separation from birth parents. If appropriate, try and incorporate your foster child’s birth family into the festive season. Help your foster child purchase small gifts for their birth parents, or get them to write a Christmas card. While this will be an emotional task for many foster children, it can also provide a sense of connection to their birth parents on a family-focused holiday.

If you’re particularly concerned about your foster child’s separation anxiety around Christmas, you can read our related article on How to Handle Separation Anxiety in Foster Care.

 If you follow these tips and tricks, we guarantee your Christmas will be a little jollier. Remember – while things are tough out there, we still have to take the small moments of joy where we can find them. Embrace Christmas 2020 for what it is – a one-off, an anomaly, a weird moment in a weirder year – but it’s still Christmas. Even Scrooge came around eventually.

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.”

If you’re interested in fostering, or would like to know more about Orchard Fostering’s services, please contact us today.