These meaningful family traditions will make for a memorable holiday for sure!
Traditions are such an important part of life. They give families a sense of identity, help make special days more memorable, reinforce our values, and strengthen family bonds. Traditions also highlight the importance of special occasions, making them more than just another day.
I really love traditions. Growing up with divorced parents and step-parents on either side, I often felt like there wasn’t a place where I really belonged. But traditions gave me a comforting feeling that I was part of something. They added something special to my childhood. So while I think traditions are important for families without small children, I do think they are especially important to families with kids.
We often associate holiday traditions with Christmas. But I personally think it’s wonderful having small but meaningful traditions sprinkled throughout the entire holiday season of Thanksgiving through New Year’s. They don’t have to be hard or expensive or time consuming. They just need to be meaningful to YOU and your family.
I asked my subscribers what their favorite traditions are, and here are a few of the responses.
“Trimming the tree and listening to Christmas music.”
“My Gams (grandmother) always made kuchen. She taught me how when I was a young girl. … Now I’m teaching my daughter to make it.”
“All whole family plays a game of football on Thanksgiving. There’s about 30 of us!”
“I don’t know if this is really a tradition. I like the quiet time after everyone leaves. Just us and our kids.”
Here are 13 traditions to try – but not all at once! Just pick ones that seem like they would be great for your family. 🙂
Related: Simplify The Holidays
13 Traditions to Try This Holiday Season
Have a special routine.
As an INTJ, I love routines. And I think having a special routine associated with a holiday adds to the excitement and special-ness. It can be something totally simple, like watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade together every year. Or it can be an entire day (or longer!) filled with certain meaningful activities!
I love a Christmas morning routine. Doing the same thing each year on Christmas morning just makes it even more special. And creates lasting memories.
Eat something special.
Many holiday traditions are centered around food. Again, it just adds something special to the occasion.
I’ve recently read articles suggesting we take the emphasis of our holiday traditions off food, claiming this promotes an unhealthy relationship with food. I heartily disagree. I believe making certain foods part of our holiday traditions emphasizes that these foods are special, not something we indulge in every day.
I also believe that gathering for meals is part of what makes us human. And keeping foods as a tradition means they are passed down from generation to generation. It adds to a family’s sense of identity and connectedness.
Related: Non-Traditional Christmas Dinner Ideas by Good + Simple
Make something together.
This is such a great memory-making activity. Make something you can keep (like ornaments each year) or something that will be consumed (like cookies) or something you’ll give away as gifts. Whatever it is, it will become a special memory and part of what you look forward to each holiday.
Talk about the deeper meaning of the occasion.
I think it can be easy to assume kids just remember or understand the deeper reason for celebration. Pick a time each year to talk about it.
Look at old photos.
This has always been one of my favorite things to do when the whole family gathers for holidays. I remember pulling out old photo albums at my granny’s house, probably at EVERY holiday. This is the main reason I am working on putting together annual photo albums. I want my kids to know the joy of looking through those pages and reminiscing.
Talk about the great things in your lives.
Talking about all the great things that have happened over the past year is a tradition that can add much more meaning to the New Year holiday. Try writing them all down in a place where you can read them the next year. Or if you are much on-the-ball with this sort of thing than I am, make a place where you can record great things as they happen all year. Then read through them on New Year’s Eve.
Go to a special event.
Many communities have special events around the holidays. One of the big ones in my city is the “Night of Lights”. Each year, on the night before Thanksgiving, all of the Christmas lights downtown, including a huge Santa made of lights on the side of one of the big buildings, are lit during a special ceremony. That’s the kind of thing kids really look forward to and will remember forever.
Look at the lights.
There was this neighborhood in the town I grew up in that went ALL OUT on Christmas lights and decorations. There would be a slow train of cars throughout the entire neighborhood on weekend nights. The entire town came through to see the lights. We drove through while listening to Christmas music and drinking hot cocoa. This is one of my most vivid memories of something we did each year as a family.
Related: Christmas Playlist by Life with Dee
Do something special for neighbors, teachers, and service providers.
Show your neighbors, teachers, mailman, garbage collector, hair dresser, and the other service providers in your life they are a special, appreciated, and that you are thinking of them during the holidays. Bring them cookies or another treat. They’ll appreciate that you thought of them.
Related: Creative Christmas Gifts for Teachers by Organizing Moms.
Give back with your time.
As my kids get older, this is a tradition we will make a priority. We are not rich, by any means, but there are so many kids far less fortunate than mine who deserve to feel special during the holidays too. And there are so many families who are on hard times, but still want to give their kids a special Christmas. Helping them is a wonderful thing to add to your holiday traditions.
Give back through donations.
If you are unable to give with your time, consider giving through donations. Each year, my husband and I participate in the Salvation Army adopt-a-family program and their wishlists always make my heart sink. These parents ask for things like a winter coat, snow boots, pots and pans and cooking utensils, even socks and underwear. As my kids get older, they’re becoming more involved with this tradition.
Watch a special movie.
I LOVE watching Home Alone every year at Christmas time. I know other people like much more sentimental movies, like Miracle on 34th Street, but Home Alone just reminds me of my childhood Christmases (not that I ever experienced anything close to what happens in the movie! 😉 ).
Related: The Best Christmas Movies by The Stress Free Christmas
Exchange handmade gifts.
I truly love handmade gifts. One of my favorite bridal shower gifts is a handmade apron I still wear every time I cook. Even if it’s just among immediate family, try making handmade gifts a part of your gift exchange. If you are a parent, this tradition will have the added bonus of giving you an opportunity to make your kids feel special by showing them how much you adore their creations.
What are your favorite holiday traditions? Share in the comments!