Every year my family practices certain traditions around the holidays. We always make too many batches of peanut butter fudge and puppy chow, we drive around looking at Christmas lights together, we wear Santa hats and pajamas around the house for at least two days, we run through an entire Christmas karaoke CD, we watch It’s a Wonderful Life, we eat breakfast casserole, and we always open one present at a time. These are just some of the things we do as a family each year. Although they may seem silly or trivial, they are activities that I love, that I will always remember, and that are unique to my family.
Family traditions are important because they can bring a sort of bond and spirit to a holiday. When I start my own family, I’d like to start new traditions, and the holiday season is a great time to start. I’ve began to gather ideas for fun, new family holiday traditions that I can start with my family now, or my family in the future. There’s never a wrong time to start a new tradition! Here’s my list so far:
8 Family Holiday Traditions to Start Now
Holiday Countdown: This is always a fun family activity for holidays.
Whichever holiday it is that you celebrate, make a countdown to the day(s)! Decorate a memo board with trinkets, candy, and numbers. Add one trinket, number, or piece of candy to the board everyday until THE day. I’ve also seen some adorable Christmas countdowns on chalkboards. Each day the number would be changed, getting lower and lower, and the amount of decorations around or on the chalkboard would keep rising! This will really amp up the excitement around the house for your kids.
Read a Book Each Day: A friend of mine buys one Christmas-themed book every day for 25 days in December. Each day she reads the book (usually something she’s found for $1 or she already owns) with her son and they talk about what happened. He gets so excited for his new story for bed each night that he actually wants to go to bed early! This is a tradition that I would definitely consider since I deeply value the importance of reading. Plus, it gets the children away from electronics for a few minutes and focused on nothing but the sound of your voice. Reading is a great family activity for holidays!
Personalize/Make an Ornament: Personalize or make one to two ornaments each year to put on the tree. This is a fun family activity for holidays and it will provide you with a wonderful keepsake. My mom has so many ornaments that her children made growing up that she has to have a second tree in the house to fit all of them! Need ideas? How about a DIY snowman ornament or DIY gingerbread ornament?
Bake Cookies: Baking is common around the holidays, so why not have your family help? Assign your young ones (and maybe even your husband) simple tasks like pouring pre-measured ingredients, stirring, or cutting shapes in the dough to get the process flowing. When the cookies are done baking, leave the decorating to the kids. Christmas cookies could be a great gift for a friend or neighbor! Maybe your tradition could be to make a plate of holiday cookies for someone else each year.
Pictures: OK–the dreaded holiday family portrait might seem overdone, but it’s a fun way to spend some quality time with your family. If your family is as goofy as mine, dressing up for your photo each year could be fun. Last year, my entire family wore footy pajamas. Dress up as elves, reindeer, Santa, or anything! Choose something different each year, but take the picture in the same place and at the same time. Spread some holiday laughter and cheer to others through your family photos! You could even attach your family photo to an ornament and add it to the tree. This is a very memorable family activity for holidays.
Giving, Giving, Giving: One of my favorite things to do before Christmas is to bag up all of the things I don’t need or use and give them to others in need. It’s a great way to realize what you really need and to cherish what you have. I often bag up clothes, shoes, coats, or anything local charities are taking. Or even give things to anyone in your community. They don’t have to be old things of yours either. Create homemade gifts for teachers or friends or whoever. Try giving something away every day for the 12 days AFTER Christmas. Why? Because making others’ lives merry or joyful during the season of giving is a gift in itself.
Sing a Song: No matter how horrible your pitch or tone may be, bust out a song. There’s nothing like gathering all your family members together to sing a familiar tune that you’ll always remember. My family sings the funny, slightly inappropriate Redneck 12 Days of Christmas. Now, that’s not one that I recommend, but it’s not about the song itself. It’s about the fun we have dividing out the parts and dramatically singing the words together.
Christmas Eve Tradition: Find something to watch or read or play every Christmas Eve at a certain time. Like I mentioned previously, my family always watches It’s a Wonderful Life (the Grinch is another favorite but my sister is still terrified after 20 years) on Christmas Eve at 7 p.m. Some families read The Night Before Christmas or open one present. Whatever your family activity for holidays is, do it on Christmas Eve and stir up the excitement for Christmas morning!
Although Christmas is only one week away (wow I can’t believe it), it’s not too late to turn one of these activities into a new tradition or start a tradition I didn’t mention here. Share your family traditions with us! Do you write letters to Santa or get letters from Santa? What do you do with your family now, or which family holiday traditions do you remember from your childhood?