Creating New Holiday Family Traditions

Here we are in the final countdown if you’re celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, the Yule or Kwanzaa!

Several people have asked for suggestions on new traditions they could create for this holiday season. Sometimes their family dynamics has changed and the big family get-togethers seem to be a bit of a disappointment. Other people have really happy memories from their childhood, and they want to be sure that their own kids have something like that. Some are finding that the old family traditions are feeling a little stale and don’t fit with what they want in their own family now.

Let’s up the merriment, ok?

Here are 25 ideas that might help you keep those wheels turning for something that could work in your home. Some are activities we did as a family, others I only heard about – and quite a few Pinterest links!  Who knows, maybe one or two of these will find their way into your own holiday traditions with your children. 

  1. Midnight Game Night. Prep all day baking cookies, making snacks or favorite appetizers for that night. Load up on the Anticipation…. cue the music for the 1979 ketchup ad! Plan for easy self-serve breakfasts the next day as everyone wakes up verrrrry slowly the next morning.
  2. Holiday Party Food. Do you need some inspiration? Check it out and get inspired! Holiday Party Food
  3. Video each other with phones saying what they like the best about each other.
  4. Do a Family Photo – Pile on the couch together, be as goofy as you like. Then next year, do it again, with everyone in the same places. It will be fun to watch everyone grow!
  5. Create a Facebook group for just your family – did you know you could make it “secret” so no others can even find you? Share photos, encourage funny captions. Keep it going all year long. It could turn into a great way to record what everyone is doing, where you’re going, etc.
  6. Create a family Hashtag, so you could post them something catchy like #BowensAreBest or #WenzelsAreWonderful – Just a couple of cool examples.
  7. Favorite Toy of the Year. What’s been the favorite toy in 2016? Everyone takes a photo of their favorite toy, game, activity! Or have each kid take a picture of the other kid with their favorite toy. Make a day of that.
  8. Start a family blog. Retrace this past year… what were the highlights each month? Everyone can dictate what they remember most about the prior months.
  9. Watch Chevy Chase’s  Christmas Vacation and then drive around to see which house wins the Christmas Vacation Award this year. Or which neighborhood is best.
  10. Christmas Movie Marathon Day. Make a list of Christmas movies and vote on which ones get Family Favorite status. These will become YOUR family traditions!
  11. Movie Week. If you have too many movies to do a Marathon Day, you could spread it out over this next week! There are so many available to you: Animated, oldies, comedies, dramas – plus now with Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, you can watch old Christmas specials or the Christmas episode from a regular TV show!
  12. Declare a “PJ All Day” day. Maybe even have new Christmas pajamas for the occasion.
  13. Winter Night Hike. Get the kids flashlights and headlamps (there are some cool ones attached to hats now), and go on a night time winter walk after dinner. Maybe go Pokemon hunting!
  14. Paper chains to count down until Christmas. Cutting each ring as you get closer. If you don’t want to do Christmas, do it to count down to the New Year.
  15. Cookie Bake Off. Spend at least a week baking various cookies (maybe one batch per day?) and let the cookies compete for which is the favorite! You could keep the ongoing score for the cookie on the fridge. Or use a white board and let each person put their 1st, 2nd , and 3rd choices. Here’s a collection of recipes from my cookie exchanges over the years!
  16. Winter Garden Stores. Go to the local garden center to see what’s different in the winter. Buy one of those Rosemary trees and bring it home to decorate. Keep it on the front porch or in the kitchen, just to remind everyone how awesome it smells. Or get something else that makes anyone excited when they stumble across it.
  17. See A Show! Check out the live performances in your area. What would be a fun one to go see all together? Remember that the afternoon matinees are sometimes less expensive – and easier to go to if your kids are younger.
  18. Hallelujah! Where can you go hear live Christmas music? Check online for local events – chorale groups, festivals that will have carolers, church performances that are open to the public. You don’t have to be a member of a church to go hear their music. There’s something about the way organ music can fill a big church – maybe your kids would enjoy that.
  19. Make Gingerbread houses out of graham crackers, frosting and candies. Or make a snow cave scene. Get creative!
  20. Community Service. See what kinds of community service options are available to you. We used to do the hand outs for the Salvation Army Toys for Tots program. It was an awesome experience. But we also collected mittens, made blankets, adopted families through Angel Trees. Lots of options.
  21. Make a Donation. Help make room for new toys by seeing which toys the kids might like to regift to someone in need.
  22. Get Fit. What if you took an hour each day to exercise together? What about the YMCA? Or finding an indoor pool. Or how about a yoga stretching class on video?
  23. Wreaths. Make a cool wreath for the front door. Would they like to make ones for other rooms? Pull up Pinterest to get inspiration for some of my favorite Winter Wreaths.
  24. Fun Runs. Join a local 5K Run over the holidays. Usually it’s a recurring event – sometimes on the actual holiday (early in the a.m.)
  25. Collections of Other Family Traditions. I’ve collected collections! My Family Holiday Traditions board is full of suggestions from other people too.

I love Pinterest, (did you know that?)
I actually have 2 accounts…
one for myself and my own interests and one for Unschooling Mom2Mom.

Read more about Why I think Pinterest is an Unschooler’s Dream.

About Sue Patterson

Wife. Mom. Daughter. Nana. Mentor. Coach. Writer. Editor. Speaker. Activist. Find me also at: Instagram: @UnschoolingMom2Mom Twitter: @Sue5 Pinterest: /umom2mom Facebook: /UnschoolingMom2Mom AND /SuePattersonCoaching
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2 Responses to Creating New Holiday Family Traditions

  1. Ellie says:

    What a great list! I second a night time hike, especially if there is snow. It really is magical. One of our favorite family traditions is making each other a handmade gift.

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