The Importance of Family Holiday Traditions and Suggestions for Traditions you can use every Year
A tradition is something that a person or family does year after year pretty much the exact same way. It’s something that we treasure as a family and spend time looking forward to.
Every year we would sing Christmas carols and drink hot chocolate after Christmas Eve dinner. I have such fond memories of this as each of us got to sing our own small solo. I still remember the laughter and all the fun that we had. Mom always made the best hot chocolate and homemade cookies .” – Jessica
Traditions are the one thing that stands out when an adult looks back on their childhood.
Traditions brings smiles to the faces of older adults when they stop to remember their past family good times. It’s the tradtions they remember … the ones that are forever engraved in memory. Holidays are one of the times when traditions become prominent.
It’s easy to create a tradition during the holidays because they are annual events and because they are special for everyone involved.
Why Holiday Traditions Matter
Traditions are an important and powerful part of life. They provide children with a sense of unity and security. They give children something to look forward to and to count on.
When families create holiday traditions, they’re creating something unique to that family. It’s a powerful bond. As your children grow up, they may hold onto their family traditions and share them with their own children. Even if they don’t hold onto the tradition themselves, you can rest assured they’ll remember them fondly.
Christmas Traditions Are Important
What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions? We all have them and they may just be more important than you think. Traditions like putting up the tree on the day after Thanksgiving, buying a special new ornament each year, or opening one gift on Christmas Eve are a special part of the holiday season. While we share many traditions, we also have unique twists on them. Maybe it’s making pizza on Christmas Eve or putting out the boot on December 5th. Maybe it’s having cookies and hot chocolate for breakfast Christmas morning, or heading to Waffle House after Midnight Mass.
No matter what traditions you have – traditional, or quirky, they are the glue that binds us together during the holidays. They help us share celebrations with our loved ones and our community. They give us a sense of belonging and help us mark important dates. Even more importantly, they help us make memories. Think back on your favorite Childhood memories of Christmas. Chances are that they are tied to Christmas traditions. Those traditions help us remember the meaningful events around them from one year to the next.
Another important aspect of traditions is that they are something we share with others. Creating and following through with traditions helps us strengthen and nurture relationships. That’s why it’s so important to blend and come up with new family traditions as you start your own family. You take the best traditions from each side, blend them, and then come up with a few of your own. You’re creating you very own set of family holiday traditions that will bind your little family together. Of course we also share traditions with the larger community like church service on Christmas Day, or the city holiday parade. They are events where we interact and meet others in our community. They make us feel part of the city, group, or church.
Take a minute to think about your own holiday traditions. What do you do year in and year out? Is there something you have to do or have or it doesn’t feel like Christmas? Nourish those traditions and pass them on to your children. If you don’t have a lot of traditions yet, there’s no better time than the present to start them. And don’t stop at Christmas. Traditions can be shared throughout the year. Build a sand castle during summer vacation, make Thursday night, pizza night, or play board games on the first Sunday of the month with friends. Embrace traditions and see for yourself how they can enrich your life and your relationships.
Creating Holiday Traditions – The First Step
The first step to creating holiday traditions is to look at activities or events your family has enjoyed in the past. For example, perhaps you went to see the Nutcracker as a family last year. That could become a holiday tradition. Maybe your family enjoys baking cookies, decorating your tree or caroling with the local church. Take a look at the opportunities you’ve already taken advantage of. Is there a potential family tradition there?
Next, take a look at activities your family might enjoy together. Traditions don’t have to be elaborate; they can be quite simple. For example, you might read The Night Before Christmas together on Christmas Eve.
Once you’ve pinpointed a tradition or two to adopt this year, relax. Don’t go overboard with too many traditions. You can wind up exhausted from trying to meet everyone’s expectations. Additionally, make sure to get your family on board with the traditions. Make them responsible for some aspect of the tradition so everyone is involved.
For example, if your family tradition is to decorate the tree to holiday music, assign one child to choose the music, one child to retrieve the ornaments and the adults can put up the tree. When everyone has a role to play, it brings the entire family together.
Family traditions are a fun way to remember the holidays. Traditions that you establish from year to year will stick with your children long into adulthood. They’ll become part of the story of their life.
Thanksgiving Tradition Ideas
- Make one special food item that everyone looks forward to each year. This can be anything from a special salad to a vegetable dish you wouldn’t normally prepare.
- Go around the Thanksgiving table and tell what you are thankful for that year.
- Make special place mats that can be used every year.
- Make name tags to use as place settings and use them year after year.
- Use your best dinnerware and glassware.
- Get a guest book and have everyone sign their name and a comment about the day!
- Create a family tradition cookbook that has recipes from those that have passed away to remember them by.
- Play a game after dinner that can be played year after year.
- Have the same centerpiece on the table every year.
- Display pictures of past Thanksgiving dinners.
Christmas Tradition Ideas
- Colorful Advent Calendars are a great way to start off the holiday season.
- Tree Trimming Night – Don’t just throw up the tree in a rush. String cranberries and/or popcorn and hang on your holiday tree with white lights for an old-fashioned holiday tree.
- Bake Cookies – Children love to bake. They love to eat too! Baking cookies and holiday treats is a tradition in many families. You can set aside an entire day or weekend to bake with your family. Make a list and create a plan. Who is going to bake what? Who gets to decorate the cookies? What kind of cookies and treats will you make? Get everyone involved in the baking decisions and process. Even the youngest children can contribute. They certainly have a favorite cookie and their decorating skills are unmatched!
- Make Paper Snowflakes – If you’re skilled with paper cutting and folding, the fun childhood activity of making paper snowflakes can take on a new look. Cut out elaborate snowflakes in beautiful paper and display on a table or hang in a doorway.
- Make Gingerbread Cookies or Homes – Who doesn’t love a good gingerbread cookie! And decorating them is extremely fun. If you want to get even more elaborate or detailed, consider making a gingerbread house instead. You can buy kits at the craft store to help you make a gingerbread house. They usu ally come with everything you need, including the candy decorations. Or you can try it yourself by following a basic recipe, do your own design, and purchasing the candy and frosting to fit your needs.
- Make Homemade Place Cards – Let children design the place card for each person that is coming to dinner.
- Write a bible verse or a verse from a Christmas carol on a strip of paper. Let everyone pick one and read it before Christmas dinner.
- Buy a personal Christmas ornament each year – Make it special! Personal Christmas ornaments are perfect for creating lasting holiday traditions. Everyone has such a great time reliving past holidays!
- Christmas Lights and Take a Look Around! – All around your community, families try to outdo each other with the holiday lights. Some resemble the Griswolds with crazy over-the-top scenes and enough lights to see their home from the moon. Others put out a beautiful display. Take your family for a night walk or drive around your community to enjoy the holiday lights. You can make a game of it to find the most beautiful display or the craziest display.
- Make a Special Dish for Dinner – Make a dish that only comes out for holiday meals. One that everyone looks forward to. Vegetables work great for this and here is one of ours to try. Christmas Lima Beans
- Make your own cooked table and have each guest bring a small plate of special cookies.
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