Ten Holiday Traditions to Create with Your Family

2 min read

By Cecilia Clark

Let’s be honest. Cultivating holiday traditions that are meaningful yet not too expensive or grand is what many of us desire. While some families manage to create larger than life traditions and special events that might eclipse your family’s simple traditions, there’s no need to feel guilty or ashamed because your activities don’t scale to others. Traditions are personal and should be manageable and fun for you and your family so you can pull them off each year without a herculean effort.

Why are holiday traditions important?

Traditions foster positive and warm childhood memories, they also create identity and cement your family’s values in ways that other activities and communications cannot. They give everyone something to look forward to each year and help people share stories across generations.

There are probably many traditions that you already do and don’t even think about. Halloween costumes, Thanksgiving special dishes, and birthday celebrations are a few of the many ways families honor their heritage and create new customs for their children.

Once your children are old enough, let each child select a holiday tradition they’d like to include in the family’s annual celebrations. This gives them ownership and a role in creating and maintaining family traditions.

Here’s a short list of kid-friendly ideas of how to make your holidays brighter without draining the “good cheer” battery.

1) See your town with a completely new light.

Pile everyone in the car dressed or in their favorite pj’s with hot cocoa and snacks and head out for a holiday lights tour in your neighborhood. You can snap photos and have a blast looking for the streets that are the most lit up.

2) Pick one holiday cookie that everyone loves.

Select a “family cookie” and give it a funny name. Only make this cookie during the holidays but talk about how fun it is going to be to make “the cookie.” Shop together for the ingredients and involve your kids in helping prepare the dough, baking the cookies, and in cleaning up.

3) Adopt a family through a nonprofit.

Show your children how good it feels to give gifts to less fortunate children by adopting a family. You can discuss what the children on your list might like at their age, shop for the gifts together and then have a good time wrapping the items. You’ll be surprised at the conversations that surface from your children’s understanding of charity and selflessness – a tradition that will bear fruit for a lifetime.

4) Make a special breakfast.

Having a favorite breakfast that everyone enjoys and anticipates is always popular. Select foods that everyone likes and are easy to fix. When your child gets old enough, put them in charge of one of the dishes.

5) Honor a departed loved one by making their recipe.

Keep the memory of someone who was special to you and your family alive by making a dish, dessert, or drink that was one of his or her favorites. This provides an opportunity to share stories and details about the person with their kids.

6) Select one activity that you do each year to break up the holiday to do’s.

Go ice-skating, go for a hike or walk, or see a movie. If you live in snow country, take a day and make a snowman, pose for photos and head in for cocoa and cookies. Whatever your family fancies for a break from any holiday stress is what’s important.

7) Put stockings or small gift bags on neighbor doors.

Surprise your neighbors by hanging a stocking or gift bag filled with a few goodies on their door. You choose whether the gift is a surprise or not. Personally, I love surprises!

8) Select one night a week after Thanksgiving through December to watch a holiday movie together.

Take turns selecting the movie each week. Make popcorn and get cozy together.

9) Start a gratitude list with your children.

Creating a gratitude journal is possible at any age. Start the list on December 1 and end on January 1. Ask your littlest ones to name something they are thankful for each day. The older kids can write their own – they will need reminders, though. The result will be rich and rewarding journals to peruse each year, not to mention the fun your children will have reading them as adults.

10) Share how other cultures celebrate the holidays.

Share a few examples with your family of how other cultures celebrate the holidays. Maybe you try a new dish, a new dessert or a new activity from another country. This gives everyone an opportunity to learn something new about the world, keeps curiosity fresh and expands the American version of “holiday.”

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