Moment 2 Moment Masterpiece Parenting Blog

Finding Joy in the holidays with your special needs kiddos and adults.

by: Elizabeth Thorndike

I love the Holidays! I always have. I remember all the little things that my mom, who was a single mama, did to make the season so much fun. It was a special time, rich with tradition, even when money was tight. I could not wait to hand some of those little things down to my family and create some new traditions with my hubby.

As our family grew, it became apparent that not all the things that were on my holiday “to-do” list were going to work. I had such grandiose expectations of how it was going to go, but not everything would work with our family’s extra needs and comfort zones. We have had many fails over the years as we tried to figure out what would work for everyone in our family, however, we are now logging some “wins” in the Thorndike Holiday Playbook!

Here are a few of our recommendations based on some of those wins.

  • Less is more, but don’t be afraid to try.

We love doing events around the holidays to create memories with our kiddos. We have learned though, that the simple things are what the kiddos ask for. Hot chocolate in the van as we drive around looking at the Christmas light displays has become a favorite with our crew. We now have a list of simple things we love, but if something new comes our way, we are not afraid to try. It could possibly go in the win column!!!

surviving christmas body 2 resized

  • Choose events that cater to our kiddos.

There are several holiday events around our area that are specifically for kiddos and adults with diverse needs. These events usually provide more space for movement, turn down the music, and provide an easier flow to enjoy activities. Check for local adaptive programs in your area. For more information you can try contacting your local community center.

  • Choose events that are less crowded and outdoors.

This is a huge one for one of our girls. She needs fresh air and space to regulate her excitement. We shoot for outdoor Christmas light displays that allow us to get out and walk around as well as activities that provide some movement and less sitting down. This is actually super beneficial for my typical kiddos too!

surviving the holidays body resized

  • Choose get-togethers with other families that have special needs loved ones.

This has become our favorite! We love this because we need understanding and not judgement. When we get together with those that see us, then the pressure is low, and the enjoyment is high. We relax knowing it won’t be perfect and operate from that place. It is peaceful and fun. You know who you are!!!!

  • Letting Christmas day be just the fam!

We now get together with our extended family before or after Christmas. On Christmas day, it is just our immediate family. This way, we let things unroll as they should, if we need to change the routine, we do. If we need to take 5 hours to unwrap gifts, we do. If we go on 5 walks to regulate, we do. It took us some time to understand this need and to make it a tradition. It also took a bit for the extended family to grasp it, but now they surround us with love and understanding. However, if your extended family is sensitive to this, don’t be afraid to set some healthy boundaries, and involve them the best way you can without compromising your diverse needs loved one and their comfort.

surviving christmas body 3 resized


These are just a few ways over the years that we have found to help the holidays be merry and bright for our entire family. Things change year to year as kiddos grow older, however, we stick to this list for most of our needs. We always love hearing new suggestions. Let us know how you and your diverse needs family celebrate the holidays. It can be such a special time.

about us

Meet the Thorndikes - Moment to Moment Family

Hi there! We are the crazy cool parents to 5 amazing and crazy cool kiddos. But, first, we are Dan and Elizabeth Thorndike – married 15 years and living this life one moment at a time. We have a full and blessed life, but we are clumsily tackling a journey we never foresaw ourselves living.

Read our story of how this journey all started in our blog post titled:
“The Beginning. Our Special Needs Journey”


Elizabeth Thorndike

Introverted extrovert – that’s how I describe myself. I absolutely love being a mama but never knew how hard it would be, nor how deeply I could love.



Find Us Elsewhere

share this article with friends and family…
that’s not all…

there’s more you might be interested in

Moments of a Special Needs Parent

Moments of a Special Needs Parent

Moments matter. They happen all the time, and if we are present when they happen, we can find the magic within. Sometimes these moments are quiet with tears, and sometimes they are doing a celebration dance at a basketball game. I have had the privilege of taking care...

read more
Siblings Rock Week 4

Siblings Rock Week 4

Today we are once again focusing on the amazing siblings that surround our special needs kiddos. These siblings are such an integral part of the lives of those with special needs. They can challenge them and support them throughout their growing years. They often...

read more
Rock your socks!

Rock your socks!

As most of you moms and dads know, March 21st was World Down Syndrome Day!!! This is a big celebration in our house. This year, surprisingly enough, it was Dollar Store for the win! The sock selection is amazing! We sported York peppermint patties, space jam, and cute...

read more

Subscribe to Receive Notifications of our New Posts

Only helpful tips, words of advice and stories to inspire.

error: Content is protected !!