Holidays and favorite family traditions go together, like hot cocoa and marshmallows or Christmas carols and Christmas lights.
In fact, it can be tough to pinpoint what makes the holidays so darn special without reminiscing about the family rituals that signal “’tis the season.” There are so many wonderful holiday traditions, whether reading a special bedtime story on Christmas Eve, preparing a specific holiday meal, or even playing a stack of board games until the ball drops on New Year’s Eve. These meaningful family traditions can highlight your family’s history, celebrate your cultural heritage, enjoy some quality time, and, most importantly, strengthen family bonds.
You may already have all your holiday traditions in the bag…er, stocking… But if you’re looking for a new fun tradition to start for yourself, with friends, or with family, we’ve lined up a few to consider. This list of family tradition ideas was submitted by our devoted “Local Anchor” readers who were happy to share their family’s traditions, how they get in the holiday spirit and how you can, too.
Fun Holiday Traditions to Start This Year
Here are holiday traditions you may want to adopt (or adapt to suit your needs!), centered mainly around food and loved ones. Because, well, that’s what makes the holidays meaningful!
Foods Bring all the Feels
Starting with Thanksgiving dinner, the holiday season of indulgence will likely have you eating homemade goodies and making them, too.
You may already gravitate toward foods with meaning – that take you back to your own childhood, remind you of a special time with loved ones, or celebrate your family’s heritage with traditional dishes. To that end, consider using your kitchen mixer or holiday breakfast or dinner table to prep and share foods that tell a story. Like these readers do:
“Our homemade cinnamon rolls are a must for our family each year, and our recipe has been passed down for generations.”
“In addition to eggs and potatoes for Christmas breakfast, we have lamb chops. My great-grandparents were ranchers, and to them, lamb was special. Just like the holidays. My kids call them ‘lollipops.’ We also incorporate a Christmas ring, which was Grandma’s recipe, and Texas pink grapefruit, which is a nod to my dad’s Texas roots. We top it off with fresh squeezed orange juice using oranges from the tree in the yard of my childhood home.”
“It wouldn’t be the holidays without us making our famous peanut butter cups to share with our friends (and, of course, to over-indulge ourselves).”
“Our heritage is Polish, so a Christmas doesn’t go by without our family coming together to make grandma’s homemade pierogi. That assembly line is great for loosening up the inevitable tension that comes along with too much family time. And a couple bottles of wine on the assembly line don’t hurt, either!”
Family-Friendly Fun Time
Family togetherness can be fab, but let’s face it – sometimes, getting out of the house for a fun activity that you only do together on special occasions like the holidays is a must on the agenda to keep everyone’s sanity and make some new memories.
Hikes, a movie night, or going on a bike ride are things that you may already do. Want more fun ideas? Here are a few:
“It wouldn’t be the holidays without the tree lighting and open house in downtown Manhattan Beach, watching Santa arrive by fire truck and Hermosa Beach, watching the boat parade in Redondo Beach, and of course, sand sledding on Christmas Eve. Our kids are now teens and still do most of this with us.”
“After the night service at our church, our family drives around and looks at all the fancy and festive lights in the neighborhoods.”
“After gifts are opened, we go play golf as a family to bring in an activity and time together that is purposeful.”
“Starting December 1, we put up a fresh pine tree, decorate it, and every night that month, watch a different Christmas movie. We turn off all the lights and have only the tree lights on and candles lit. I can’t wait to introduce this tradition to our first child this Christmas.”
Share in Celebrations from Other Countries
Take a page out of your book of ancestry by bringing to life a holiday tradition from another country. Or, check out the most popular December holidays celebrated around the globe and use the month as a time to talk with young children about how different families from other countries and cultures celebrate and how their traditions are similar.
“St. Nicholas Day is widely celebrated in Europe, but we’ve started the tradition in our family, too. The kids put out their shoes the night before to be filled with goodies. It’s something fun and different to do at the beginning of December.”
Lastly, here’s a bonus tip from one savvy mom for those who celebrate Christmas with kiddos. She said that before things get chaotic on Christmas morning (blame Santa for the frenzy!), in her house they make sure the adults get some moments of Zen with a little “me” time.
“Once everyone is awake, the adults get to have coffee first. Which totally annoys the children, but it’s a teachable moment: that good things come to those who wait!”
What are some of your own family traditions and favorite things to do around the holidays? Share them with us in our Local Anchor Facebook group.