It is a bit cliché to say that Christmas will be here before we know it, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
Given the hectic pace of the holiday season, families who want to create meaningful memories have to be intentional and purposeful about their time between now and the New Year.
A great way to give focus to these busy days is by starting a new holiday tradition. These customs are activities that you and your siblings, children, parents and loved ones can enjoy together and look forward to every year.
Start a Christmas Ornament Collection
Decorating the Christmas tree is a time-honored tradition in many families. Unpacking those ornaments can take on a new meaning when you revisit a treasured collection of ornaments. Whether you buy an ornament from your family vacation spot each year, collect a type of ornament, like German glass, or have your kids make an ornament every year, unpacking a collection of cherished ornaments is a special tradition.
Start a Tradition of Giving Back
What better time of year to volunteer to help those in need? Give back to your community by taking your entire family to a local soup kitchen to serve dinner or bringing your dog to a local nursing home to spread cheer.
If you or a family member is a recovering addict, volunteering during the holiday season can keep you busy while avoiding common triggers. It is a great way to maintain focus on what is important and establish an attitude of gratitude throughout the season.
Bake a Favorite Cookie Together
Christmas cookies are a quintessential winter treat, but we often buy cookies during the hectic holiday season rather than make them by hand. But baking them yourselves and giving them as gifts will be even sweeter than the cookies themselves.
Unplug Everything but the Lights
As busy as the holiday season is, why not consciously take some time to be together as a family without distraction? Perhaps on Christmas Eve or another day before or after the holiday, turn your smart phones, tablets, and televisions off. Go through old photos, talk about loved ones who can’t be with you and play board games. No matter what you do, this undistracted, intentional time together will be priceless.
Adopt a Cultural Tradition
They holidays are a special time to connect with cultural traditions. Many families celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas in early December by leaving shoes by the door and waking up to find them filled with treats. In Denmark, St. Nicholas Day is celebrated by writing riddles for family members or elaborately wrapping their gifts.
In Ireland, a common Christmas Eve tradition is to leave a candle in the window overnight. No matter your heritage, embracing a tradition is a special way to mark the holidays.
Recently we were sent Walk This World At Christmas Time by Debbie Powell and my kids have had a blast learning about Holiday Traditions around the world!
Go Christmas Caroling Together
Even if your family isn’t particularly musical, everyone can belt out Christmas carols. Thanks to smartphones and music apps, you can press “play” on a sing-along album and walk your neighborhood spreading holiday cheer. Caroling will help you meet neighbors and overcome shyness pretty quickly.
Create Your Holiday Card Together
Mailboxes fill up with holiday cards starting just after Thanksgiving. Creating these cards is a great family project. Start by reviewing your photos — and all the fun you had — from the previous year. Which ones do you want to share with loved ones and friends?
You can also select the design, use a child’s drawing and customize the message. This creative endeavor will bring smiles to so many faces when they receive your card in the mail.
Celebrate with Special Pajamas
Most of your Christmas Eve and Christmas morning photos feature kiddos and parents in their PJs. Would you rather feature your tattered old jammies or festive new duds in these snapshots?
Giving your family matching festive pajamas every Christmas is not only a fun tradition, it’s also a way to ensure your photos are full of holiday cheer.
Start a Christmas Countdown
Advent calendars help build suspense and remind young and old alike that Christmas is just around the corner. But don’t feel like you have to stick to the old paper versions. There are plenty of Advent calendars for older kids and grown-ups, like those filled with LEGO bricks or chocolate.
Celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas
The lead up to Christmas is full of work parties, shopping and family get-togethers. By the time December 26 rolls around, you might want to keep the party going without the stress of other obligations.
During this quieter time after Christmas, your family can embrace the 12 Days of Christmas, since they actually start on Christmas Day and go until January 5. With no parties, cooking or shopping left on the to-do list, you can focus on doing an act of kindness each day, or by giving one gift each of the twelve days, instead of all of the presents on Christmas Day.
Build Gingerbread Houses Together
Both kids and grownups will love getting their fingers sticky with icing as they construct their gingerbread house. Don’t get too caught up perfecting the design. Instead, focus on the good times had with your loved ones, and sneak a candy or two along the way.
Host a Christmas Movie Marathon
Is your family type more “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “Elf”? No matter your tastes, curling up together and watching beloved holiday movies is a fun activity for all generations. Let the young adults introduce their grandparents to “Love Actually” while the grandparents bring a copy of “The Bishop’s Wife.”
Every family has their own traditions, many of which are steeped in years of history. But the new traditions started by your family this year will be cherished by generations to come. So embrace one of these holiday traditions this year.
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