Creating Meaningful Family Traditions

What holiday traditions do you practice in your family? Are they purposeful or do you do them out of habit? Click through to learn how to build deeply meaningful holiday traditions for your family.This post was originally published on Modern Alternative Mama last year. Are your family holidays full of meaningful traditions? Or do they feel weighed down by things you do by rote, or worse, expectations that leave you drained or fighting with your family members?This season is supposed to be a special time, a time to connect with family and loved ones and to celebrate the winter holidays. Family traditions can make this time more fun, add a deeper meaning and can also help strengthen family bonds.[Tweet "Tradition is a guide and not a jailor. - W. Somerset Maugham"]But if your traditions aren’t doing those things, consider changing them up. Let some go, adapt them, add some new ones. Here are some questions to consider when thinking about family traditions:

  • What is meaningful for your family?
  • What one or two values do you want to focus on at Christmas time?
  • What kinds of activities are reasonable to repeat every year (and not make mama crazy)?
  • What is your cultural background?
  • What traditions does your family look forward to most each year?

The answers to these questions will help guide you in determining what traditions to repeat or add and which to let go.Whether you have a new baby, young children, are blending two families or just wanting to change it up, here are some fun family traditions for you to consider.

Holiday traditions you can do with a baby

  • Make an ornament with a hand or footprint.
  • Make or buy an ornament with a recent photo of your child. Add a new photo ornament each year.
  • Take a cute photo for your holiday card. (Qho doesn’t love a baby in a Santa Hat?)
  • Make or give a special new stocking for the newest family member.
  • Gift a Christmas music box with a favorite carol.
  • Write a letter to your child (and do it every year).
  • Start a Christmas scrapbook.
  • New Christmas jammies or a blanket.

Holiday traditions that involve bigger kids

  • Make a batch of ornaments (grandparents love these) and keep one for your own tree.
  • Leave your shoes out on St. Nicholas Day (December 6th).
  • Give a special ornament to each child. When they eventually move out, they can take that collection with them to decorate their own tree.
  • Make cookies, have a cookie decorating party or a cookie exchange party.
  • Count down to Christmas with a themed advent calendar. Make it a craft advent, a family activity advent, or a book advent.
  • Wrap up “Christmas Eve in a box” with new pajamas, cosy socks, movies, hot chocolate and pop corn.
  • Drive around looking at Christmas lights.
  • Volunteer together (adopt a family, staff a food kitchen, support a cause, donate toys, food or warm clothing).
  • Go to a Christmas tree farm to cut down a tree and decorate it as a family.
  • Have special books or readings that only come out at this time of the year.
  • Practice giving: Help your kids make gifts for other family members, choose a special toy to pass on to a sibling, and help wrap gifts for others. Some gifts kids can make themselves are coupons (let them pick what the coupon can be traded for!), craft projects, handmade ornaments, those cookies you made together, or writing letters to soldiers or others who are far from their families.
  • Make a “wishmas tree” and decorate with wishes for other people.
  • Go caroling in your neighborhood
  • Attend the late service at your church on Christmas Eve, even if it is way past bedtime.
  • Go to a Christmas music concert.
  • Leave cookies for Santa (and then leave Santa evidence around the house for the kids to find in the morning).
  • Create a scavenger hunt for special presents.
  • Take turns opening presents so everyone gets to see all the gifts.
  • Make gingerbread houses (or cardboard houses if gingerbread and icing is too messy for you).
  • Have silly Christmas Eve fun, like having a themed dinner, have your kids put on a show or have a family-wide talent show.
  • Take the same picture each year of the whole family.
  • Write a love letter to your kids or husband.
  • Take the kids on a surprise adventure, like this Minivan Express.

Remember that an activity can be fun and still be full of meaning, especially if you talk to your kids about why you are doing something and why it is important to you to do it every year. Don’t forget to get the kids involved in deciding what traditions to repeat or not. You might be surprised at what means the most to them at the holidays. It might not be the presents!What is your favorite family holiday tradition?