Traditions are important to help bind families together, create a sense of togetherness, and bring generations together. They create moments and memories to share, and pass along to future generations. And, they’re especially special when they come in the form of cherished holiday traditions.
Some holiday traditions are intentional, while others are accidental. Either way, they become treasured memories carrying families from one holiday to the next. It is these traditions that are remembered far longer than the presents under the tree.
If you don’t have holiday traditions for your family, maybe this is the year you can start a few. They can help to bring everyone together, whether virtually or in person, and help all enjoy simple togetherness as a family, which is sorely needed this year.
These are a few ideas for holiday traditions that have stood the test of time.
- Making Your Own Ornaments
While creating an amazing-looking tree, making your own ornaments is a fun tradition to build memories for many years to come. Here’s how it works: during every holiday season, each family member (including the little ones) makes an ornament for the tree, and hangs their ornament. Year-by-year, the hand-made ornaments grow in number, and by the time the children of the family are grown, they have an excellent ornament collection to start for their own trees. This allows them to carry on the tradition as they leave home and create families of their own.
- Baking Holiday Treats
While you spend time baking as a family, everyone has the opportunity to talk about their lives, their histories, and their hopes and dreams of the future. These conversations are as dear over the years as the tradition itself, which makes this a tradition you’ll want to keep and continue, even if the things you bake evolve (and disappear!) over time. Not only do you spend time together baking goodies everyone loves to eat, but it also results in some treats to share with others and give as gifts.
- Volunteering as a Family
From offering to be a bell ringers for the Salvation Army’s Kettle Drive to volunteering in children’s hospitals, soup kitchens, and domestic violence shelters, you have countless opportunities to give back as a family during this “giving” time of year. Not only does volunteering as a family give you the opportunity to help others who are less fortunate during the holiday season, but it also helps your family count your blessings, and realize how fortunate you may be when so many other families struggle.
- Attending Worship Services as a Family
Traditions like these help reinforce religious beliefs for families, and serve to remind all of the true reason we celebrate this time of the year. They can be good for your family as a whole, and for the soul. These religious services are also beautiful testaments of faith, often delivering messages of hope worth remembering throughout the holidays and beyond. As your family participates in singing hymns and much-loved carols while lighting candles and celebrating your faith, your bond as a family grows even stronger. And, this is yet another tradition your children may one day share with their own.
- Watching a Holiday Movie(s) Together
There are so many great holiday films to watch during the holiday season. Whether you’re a stickler for the classic black and white films of yesteryear, or are all about the newer Christmas movie releases, there are a plethora of holiday flicks to choose from. With plenty of time leading up from Thanksgiving to Christmas, you may even consider having a long weekend where you pop popcorn, order pizza, stay in your jammies, and binge watch for an entire weekend.
- Riding Around Town Looking at Holiday Lights
This is the perfect holiday activity for the 2020 holiday season. You get to experience all the cheer and glad tidings of the holiday season, without ever leaving your vehicle. To complete the mood, you might want to bring along cookies and cocoa, and listen to holiday music during the drive. Of course, you may have to ban screens during the ride, so that younger passengers are with you “in the moment”. These times together might be some of the fondest memories your children take into adulthood with them.
- Trimming the Tree and Decorating Your Home
Trimming the tree, whether you go out and get your own tree each year, or you have an artificial tree in your home, is a special event and an excellent opportunity to build important family holiday memories. In some households, the youngest child always puts the star on top of the tree. Regardless of how you decorate your tree and your home, doing it as a family is a must when it comes to creating steadfast and lasting holiday traditions. It is something, no matter how much the children and teens complain about, they secretly cherish.
- Reading a Special Story Together
It doesn’t matter what the story is. For some it’s the traditional “Night Before Christmas” story. Other families read from the Bible on Christmas Eve, sharing the story as it appears in either Matthew or Luke. Still others believe the tradition of reading as a family is the important part, and opt for other stories that become just as memorable to their children over the years. Many go on to read the same stories to their children on Christmas Eve, bringing the tradition to a new generation.
- Going Black Friday Shopping
Some families take their holiday shopping extra seriously, and no one day for shopping is more carefully constructed and planned than Black Friday. With so many great sales, some families spend the latter half of Thanksgiving Day mapping out a strategy for getting the best bargains possible starting at obscenely early hours the following morning. It’s a tradition many families share. It can be a true bonding experience for everyone, and a tradition that is becoming sorely missed as many people turn to online shopping for their holiday bargain hunting.
- Having an Ugly Sweater or Pajama Contest
Last, but certainly not least, are the traditions of ugly Christmas sweaters or pajamas for the big day. While it may have started as a sort of joke among family members, there are those who search all year for the gaudiest, loudest pajamas or sweaters possible to make this day an eye sore to reckon with. In fact, family members may get together and vote on who has the best (or worst as the case may be) taste in sweaters or pajamas for a special award you make up for the event. It’s all about good clean fun for the holidays, and traditions everyone can enjoy.
- Bonus Holiday Tradition: Create a Family Photo for Holiday Cards
Time passes so quickly, but one great way to slow down time is to capture moments on film. And, for many families, taking a yearly holiday photo is a beloved tradition. Whether your photo is taken on the beach where everyone is wearing Santa hats, or, more traditionally, in holiday PJs in front of the Christmas tree, your card recipients will love to see your family’s smiling faces, year after year.
As the holidays approach, traditions take on greater importance for families. In a year when there is so much uncertainty, these traditions can be the tie that binds families together – closer than ever. Happy Holidays! May you revisit some of your favorite traditions — and start a few new ones of your own during this holiday season.