Help Kids Fight Post-Holiday Blahs
Parent Advice

This year we have pledged to have someone over for dinner one evening per week or on the weekend - just a simple dinner (no big deal) but a chance to open our house to friends that we don't get to see regularly. We'll let our daughter, Annie, help with dinner (a huge deal for her these days). It's nice to spend time with others, and doing this is a reminder that it doesn't need to occur just around the holidays!

— Julie Williams

Two words: play date. Also, play games after dinner or have running games of Scrabble or a jigsaw puzzle set up to work on.

— Marie Grass Amenta

My favorite is to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas and have little stocking gifts continue until Jan. 6. It doesn't matter so much what the gift is (mittens, ChapStick, love notes). The important thing is continuing the anticipation and fun of the Christmas season.

— Deb Murray

Phone the missing cousins often, and write letters.

— Paula Glenn

Expert Advice

"Post-holiday blues are a state of mind - not something abnormal we are going through," says Mary Jo Rapini, relationship counselor and author of "Start Talking: A Girl's Guide for You and Your Mom About Health, Sex or Whatever" (Bayou Publishing). "With a little foresight, post-holiday can transition into one of your favorite aspects of the holidays."

Rapini recommends the following:

•Plan a family trip for February. "It can be a weekend in a hotel with a pool or a getaway to a nearby city to visit a museum," she says. "Where you go isn't important; what is important is that you begin to make plans so the whole family can look forward to it and begin saving money."

•Establish a fitness routine. "We all overeat and feel guilty about it," Rapini says. "Kids feel better when they exercise, and adults do too. It will get you all energized to begin the new year on a healthy note. Exercise is the single best way to cure blues." Hello, Wii Fit!

•Encourage a new hobby. "This doesn't have to be a New Year's resolution, but rather a redirection of your interests. Learning to knit after Christmas is not only a great new hobby, but it is inexpensive and there is still enough time to make a blanket to snuggle in before spring."

•Start a book club. "Choose one book that you save to read for the first day of the new year," Rapini suggests. "Try to choose a book that is symbolic or meaningful to your life. Bring your children in by suggesting this as a new tradition. Sometimes the best way to a new way of living is to read about someone else who has struggled and done something positive with their life. Children love stories of people who do and did fascinating things. Children need heroes."