Kids Learn Vital Skills When Helping with Holiday Tasks

by Kimberley McGee

This is the 10th in my 12 Days of Holiday Organizing series, which is part of the 12 Days of Homeschooling Fun that includes craftsmeal planning, recipes, holiday-themed study units and more! Today, we talk about how to turn holiday tasks into fun activities and drop the stress.


Holiday tasks often get relegated to the adults, but taking time (and it takes time and patience during a busy season!), to let kids help can be a big opportunity. Guide them through the process of buying and wrapping gifts to hone vital skills.

The holidays are full of skill-building activities, from using fine motor skills with Christmas crafts, learning about the history of the holiday and its many traditions, how to budget and shop for family and hone those creative and spatial skills with gift wrapping.

Realize that this is going to take some time and the child is going to rip, tear and use too much tape. It’s okay. Perfection isn’t the goal. Have fun. This is about confidence and skill-building.

help with holiday tasks

Skills They Learn with Holiday Tasks

Gift wrapping helps kids to follow through with a plan and work on those fine motor skills and creative juices. Learning how to measure how much paper works well for a package and not cutting too much or too little helps them with visuospatial skills.

Cutting the paper in a straight line uses visual-motor skills. Holding the wrapping paper and folding it all work on bilateral coordination skills. Writing name tags also works on visual motor skills and the dreaded handwriting my one child would rather not do, unless it involves anything that also involves Santa.

If your little can’t maneuver the wrapping paper, being in charge of the clear tape is plenty!Measuring the tape and pulling it from the dispenser work on bilateral coordination skills. It also helps them to realize how hard and fast they need to pull the tape from the dispenser to get the right amount of tape to place on the package, which helps with learning the degree of force needed to accomplish a task.

This is also a good time to keep track of gift ideas and what you gave this year so you don’t repeat next year. A holiday planner can become a keepsake of all you did as well as phone numbers, emails and addresses to send birthday gifts and to have for next year. A birthday tracker can be a great place to jot down gift ideas that occur to buy later for those you have already bought Christmas gifts for.

What to Have on Hand

Have everything ready and plenty of space to finish the job. I also put out a plate or tray where the scissors and tape go after each use, in theory. Take your time. You’ve been doing this longer. And you have had your frustrating moments as well. Make it a fun time. Put out some cookies, put on some music, go ahead and get your Christmas on!

  • Wrapping Paper
  • Pens of different colors (and make sure they work!)
  • Ribbons
  • Bows
  • Gift tags (have plenty for those inevitable misspellings or putting the to name in the from or vice versa. It’s a tradition.
  • Two rolls of clear tape (one always disappears)
  • Two scissors (they run away with the tape)
  • Twine, bells and other embellishments


Tips to Wrapping Gifts

I’ve made wrapping gifts a rushed event and a mad dash to just get it done. Then we are stuck with strewn bits of paper, ribbon and missing name tags, or none at all. I personally like the mystery of Christmas, but my husband prefers people open the gifts that were intended for the recipient. But I actually really enjoy wrapping gifts and embellishing them with bells and bows.

Rather than rush it, I take each kiddo, alone, and have all the supplies set up to wrap a beautiful present. It’s nice to have some calm time together, not shushing one while explaining how to tie a bow to the other or searching for scissors the other has absconded with to watch TV. We focus better when it’s one-on-one and one present at a time.

Offer a few paper options, ribbons, name tags and embellishments for kids to choose from. If you have a theme, put out different colors or patterns. If you want to practice, use bits of old paper, or the crinkled edge of last year’s roll and wrap wooden blocks or empty boxes.

Make it easy on you and the kiddos and buy paper with grids on the inside. Thicker paper is easier for cutting.


holiday kids help


Ribbons and bows

Once you’ve wrapped all the presents, put all the paper away and clear an area to festoon the package with ribbon, bells, little clay ornaments or other spirited bobble. But if you’re rushed, a tag will do. Teach kids to criss-cross a package with ribbon, make a bow or curl the ribbon with the edge of a credit card or other hard piece of flat plastic.

Ribbons and bows can help make an oddly sized gift that is put into a bag look impressive. Help them to make a bow. Use a scarf or other oversized, soft length of fabric for them to practice. Tying bows is a much more fun way to learn that skill than tying shoes.

How to Help Kids Shop for Others

Kids can learn early on that the holiday season is about giving and planning to make other’s spirit’s bright. We begin by making lists and keeping track of what we’ve bought for each person, parent, sibling, grandparent, cousin, etc.

I ask them what they think the gift recipient might like. If they aren’t sure, kids can research what the gift recipient might like by asking some pointed questions, such as:

  • What is your favorite color?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • Who is your favorite actor/musician/chef/TV character?
  • What do you like to do on the weekends?Make a list of all the people they would like to give gifts to, from the babysitter to the mailman and all of the family members. Have them write down their ideas next to the names. If they are old enough, have them write a budget for all of the presents and break that down into a budget for each present.

Some good ideas for small gifts are handmade ornaments, cookies or a card.

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