Holiday Traditions: Embrace the Old. Discover Something New.
Updated: Jul 30
Holiday cards. Cooking decorating. Elf on the Shelf. It seems we all have our favorite traditions this time of year and we love sharing those moments with family and friends.
I grew up in a family steeped in tradition, and many of these we’ve continued with our own kids. But there’s something a bit different about the holidays this year. I sense a stronger desire to make sure we don’t miss out on these memorable moments.
Perhaps this is normal as we age. We do have four teenagers now. Perhaps it is because two of our kids have been away at college and are craving some ‘normalcy’ as they return home. Or perhaps it’s the unavoidable effect of the pandemic on our daily lives as we live in a constant state of change.
Whatever the reason, everyone seems eager to participate (which I admit has not always been the case in years past!). So this year we’re making time for all our favorite traditions and starting some new ones as well.
Traditions don’t have to be extravagant. They don’t have to be limited to your immediate family. And there’s no reason we can’t ditch some of the olds ones and start some new ones this year.
So ask your kids, what are their favorite traditions this time of year?
Why We Love Traditions
Celebrating traditions each year can be a fun way to create lasting memories with your family and friends. However, beyond the memorable moments, holiday traditions can also be an important reminder to slow down and embrace some of the fond memories we have as a child.
"Traditions remind us of our values and provide consistency in our constantly evolving lives. They are things we do repeatedly, but they aren’t routine or automatic – they are deliberate actions that connect us to our loved ones and provide a sense of identity and comfort. In times like these, we need these the most." - Mental Health America
Old Traditions. New Traditions.
Traditions don’t have to be extravagant. Most importantly, they should be something your family looks forward to each year, from the simple to the silly. Here’s a few ideas to get you started -
Create Traditions Unique to Your Family
Our family’s favorite tradition each year is a trip to the mountains to find the perfect Christmas tree. It’s always an adventure, some more memorable than others, and involves a full day of driving, hiking and wondering how we’ll drag a 20’ tree back to the car. We’ve been fortunate to have friends and family join us in years past, although by the end this seems to be a one time ‘bucket list’ activity for most of them!
Include Friends and Neighbors
This weekend we celebrated our twelfth cookie decorating party with our neighbors. Our youngest was an infant when we started the tradition. There’s absolutely nothing fancy about the cookies we make. We stick to your basic sugar cookie and put all our energy into the decorating! And with four teenagers in the house now, we can get pretty silly with our ideas.
Give Back to the Community
There’s so many ways to give back to your community over the holidays. Partner with your school, sports team or a local non-profit to learn about the opportunities that exist this holiday season. We are fortunate to have an active team mom who organized an event this year to adopt-a-family for the holidays.
Start Something New
There’s no doubt the pandemic has impacted how we celebrate the holidays, and this is a great reason to find some new traditions to celebrate. With store shelves a bit more empty than usual, we’re taking it upon ourselves to make a few of our favorite foods and beverages from scratch. First on our list - eggnog!
Still Looking for Ideas?
Traditions for the Family
Display decorations that have been passed down from family members
Send holiday greeting cards
Create a Christmas countdown activity - paper rings are a simple craft even the youngest kids can enjoy
Write letters to Santa - our neighbor claimed to know exactly how to get these letters to Santa so our kids delivered their letters to this neighbor every year
Start a holiday themed collection of ornaments or villages
Create a holiday music playlist
Create a annual family photo
Wear matching holiday-themed jammies
Honor a loved one - share stories or hang special holiday decor
Drive around to see the Christmas lights
Tired of Elf on the Shelf? Try the Snoop on the Stoop
Traditions with Friends
Host a create your own pizza night
Plan a movie marathon - our daughter has Lord of the Rings at the top of her list
Host a game night - poker tends to be our go to at our house
Do a holiday puzzle
Host a white elephant gift exchange. Here’s the rules!
Have a cider tasting or perhaps an eggnog tasting (or maybe chocolate?)
Hold a cookie bake off
Watch the same holiday movie every year - Polar Express is always a favorite
Plan a day-after-Christmas shopping trip
Go caroling through the neighborhood
Don’t Forget About Yourself
Read a book
Make New Year resolutions
Find time to meditate - we can all use it this time of year!
Treat yourself to a spa day
Learn a new hobby - knitting, photography, drawing and painting. Our neighbor introduced me to these 5D diamond paintings!
Join the Discussion
With our holidays once again being impacted by the pandemic, the familiarity of traditions can help create a sense of closeness among family and friends. Take a look at your family traditions and evaluate which ones create the best memories, which ones create a bit too much stress (so perhaps skip those this year!) and which you look forward to the most.
Have a favorite family tradition? We’d love to hear from you!
About the Author
Jennifer Larson is an entrepreneur, charter school founder and mother to four children. Connect with her @startupjen.