The holidays are exciting- but with foster kids in the mix, things can become emotional and overwhelming for both your family and the child. In hopes of making things simpler for you this year, here are a few points, tips and reminders for you as the 25th rolls around.

Prepare your child by briefing them about your family’s traditions, who they will meet and what to expect. This is especially important if the foster child is a more recent addition to the family, or if this is their first Christmas with you or away from their own family. By simply giving them a basic idea of what to expect, they’ll feel more comfortable going into family gatherings. 

On the other hand, talk to your family about etiquette around foster children. Kindly explain to them that this may be an emotional time, and that it’s important to make them feel included. Remind them not to overwhelm the child with personal questions or comments. Instead, encourage them to include the child in the festivities. Depending on how your family celebrates, another important thing could be to remind relatives to include your foster child on their holiday shopping list, especially if other siblings are receiving gifts. This will make them feel welcome and part of the family.

Respect their traditions. Not all foster kids are familiar with Christmas and may celebrate a different holiday than you. You are welcome to use this as an opportunity to teach them about the meaning of the holiday, both in terms of the birth of Jesus and the spirit of giving and family. Enjoy introducing them to all the fun traditions like lights on the trees, stockings, hot cocoa and Christmas movies. Of course, invite your child to teach you about their Holiday celebrations if they would like to share. Also- think about incorporating some of their traditions into your family festivities this December, in order to make them feel more at home. 

Lastly, consider a gift for your foster child’s biological parents. Depending on the situation and your relationship with the birth family, you may or may not find this to be appropriate. Of course, contact your caseworker for advice and to get the go-ahead. This can be a sweet gesture that opens a healthy stream of communication, for both you and the child.

Don’t get too stressed or worried about how things will turn out. When you stay calm, your foster child is more likely to stay calm. Keep things light and fun, but reach out if you sense they need support. Happy Holidays!