New Fostering Family

The Christmas holidays are fast approaching, and for many, it is a time of excitement, good cheer and fabulous memories, but for a new fostering family, it may not be so cut and dry. While the holidays can still be wonderful, there are some caveats to be mindful of now that you have a new foster child in your home.

New Fostering Family at Christmas

8 tips on how to celebrate Christmas as a new fostering family

Let’s take a look at some practical tips and advice on how to celebrate Christmas as a new fostering family to ensure it’s a positive and memorable experience for all. 

Understand Your Foster Child May Not Have Positive Memories 

The first thing to recognise is that just because you love Christmas and have all kinds of special memories, it doesn’t mean your new foster child is the same. You don’t know what their home life and family dynamics were during the holiday season, and instead of joy and happiness, Christmas may spark anxiety, stress and even sadness in your foster child. 

If your foster child seems open to conversation, ask about their previous Christmas experiences. Allow them to share how they may be feeling and make sure you don’t minimise anything that they have gone through or their current emotions. 

Incorporate Their Traditions into Yours 

Having a conversation with them about their previous Christmas celebrations gives you a chance to ask about their traditions. Are there any specific traditions their biological parents/family did and if so, would they like to continue them? This is a great way to make them feel welcome in your home and give them a sense of familiarity and happiness during the Christmas season. 

Traditions can be as simple as baking or cooking a particular recipe, visiting a Christmas-themed attraction, playing Christmas music or watching a Christmas movie together.  

Let Them Know How Your Christmas Season Typically Looks 

Now that they have told you a bit about their traditions, you need to do the same so that they know what to expect. Let them know what the entire Christmas season looks like in your house, the traditions you follow, any visiting/socialising you do and of course the routine for Christmas day. Giving them all the information in advance can help quell any stress or anxiety they may be feeling about Christmas in their new foster home. 

You May Need to Keep Things Lowkey 

Sometimes even with your best efforts, the Christmas season may spark too much stress and anxiety in your foster child for it to be enjoyable. If that’s the case, it’s best to keep things lowkey. This may not be the best year to have a house full of guests or attend large holiday parties. You need to do what makes them feel comfortable and safe, and if that means cutting back significantly this year, then that’s the best plan. 

Remember, Christmas can be extremely chaotic. You’re probably used to it and used to the noise, commotion and flurry of activity at your family gatherings, but for a foster child new to the mix, it can be way too much. 

Ask Them for a Christmas Gift List 

Because you may not know your foster child well yet, it’s a good idea to ask for a Christmas wish list or gift list. You want them to love any gifts they open so they feel like they are understood and welcomed. It doesn’t mean you have to stick with the list only, but it will at least point you in the right direction. 

Plan Christmas-Themed Activities as a Family 

A great way to create a fresh start for Christmas is by planning activities together. Involve them in any of the plans so that they experience the joy of the season. It’s a good idea to look at your local calendar of events so you can provide them with a list of options. There are typically lots of family-friendly events happening at this time of year. 

If you pick events that neither you nor your foster child has attended in the past, then it works as neutral territory and can therefore be much less stressful. 

To keep things stress-free, it’s also a good idea to put everything down in writing, making a Christmas calendar of events. This will give your foster child something to refer to so that they know what to expect and when. Just look for a printable PDF calendar online, fill it in and hang it somewhere the whole household can see it. 

Will Their Birth Family Be Involved?

Each situation will be unique, but it’s important to determine if your foster child’s birth family will be involved in any of the celebrations. Will they be visiting their family, and if so, when? Be open with them about the schedule and answer any questions they may have. In the days leading up to their visit with their biological family, they may show signs of stress, so you’ll need to be kind and give them the space they may need. 

Sadness and Grief are Normal Emotions for Foster Kids

What may come as a surprise is that sadness and grief are very normal emotions for foster kids to have during the Christmas holidays. It can be very hard for them to be away from their biological family, regardless of what the situation was like. They will also be grieving what used to be and is no longer. 

It’s not uncommon for kids to display a variety of symptoms if they are dealing with sadness and grief. These can include such things as bedwetting, being rebellious, having temper tantrums, being withdrawn, reverting in development behaviour, and more. Make sure to stay calm, cool and collected, showing them empathy and support so you can help them work through their feelings. 

Each of these tips will help you to celebrate Christmas in a positive and stress-free manner with your new foster child, incorporating existing traditions from you both and introducing all new ones to the mix. Just remember to be mindful of their emotions, and make sure you’re open to talking any time they need or want to. 

Interested in learning more about becoming a foster parent? Whether you’re prepared to embark on this rewarding journey or simply wish to have a friendly chat with an expert, we’re here to engage with you.