Holiday Traditions to Start With Your Family

holiday traditions

About this time last year I was in the “new mom fog” with a 2 week old newborn on my hands.  It was hard to tell day from night let alone trying to get in the Christmas spirit. (My family was lucky I even got dressed for Christmas dinner!) That’s why I’ve been looking forward to this year’s festivities, now that my daughter is one years old and can, somewhat, experience the joys of Christmas! The morning after Thanksgiving I was blasting Christmas music (Mariah Carey and N’ Sync Holiday albums, mostly) and began to search for some tried and true holiday traditions to start with my little family. I was PRETTY overwhelmed to find out that there are so many traditions to choose from! And while I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I plan to implement all of these traditions (Repeating in my head: I have just as many hours in the day as Beyoncé, I have just as many hours in the day as Beyoncé…) I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you, in case any resonated with you and your family. Here are my top holiday tradition recommendations.

holiday traditions

  1. Elf on the Shelf: Apparently this is all the buzz for kids these days. Parents tell their children that Santa’s elf will visit them every day between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve to report back to Santa who has been naughty or nice this year. Every morning the kids wake up and find the clever elf somewhere around the house. I’m not going to lie – it’s pretty genius – keeping kids on their best behavior throughout the month of December because the Elf is watching!
  2. Christmas Lights: One night leading up to Christmas, put some hot cocoa in mugs, pack the kids in the car and find the best neighborhoods for Christmas lights (there’s always one neighborhood in every town that goes above and beyond).
  3. Wrap Books: Each night leading up to Christmas, leave a wrapped holiday book under the tree for your kids. Have them open the pre-holiday gift and read the story together before bed.
  4. Letters to Santa: Help your children write a letter to Santa and leave them at the foot of the fire-place. Watch their astonished faces when they realize that it magically disappeared, on its way to the North Pole.
  5. The Nutcracker: If your kids are old enough, have the entire family get dressed up and attend The Nutcracker ballet performance at your local theater. If the kids aren’t old enough to sit through a performance, make it into a date night with you hubby, complete with dinner and drinks before or after.
  6. Holiday Baking: Invite your friends and family over for a holiday baking extravaganza! Bake cookies, fudge, candy, whatever your heart desires. You can even throw in some wine and make it a real party.
  7. Holiday Movie Marathon: Reserve a lazy Sunday to all lounge around, eating Christmas cookies and watching some holiday movie classics. Don’t forget: A Christmas Story, The Holiday, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and Elf!
  8. Give Back: Find a local non-profit or soup kitchen and donate your time to helping those less fortunate during the holiday season.
  9. The ReGift: Have your older kids wrap one old toy that they no longer play with, and have them gift it to one of their younger siblings.
  10. Get Crafty: Help each of your kids make an ornament each year. Make sure to include the year somewhere on the keepsake.
  11. Quality Time with the Hubby: Leave the kids with relatives or a babysitter and go out and enjoy some holiday fun with your significant other. Go ice skating, wear santa hats and go shopping, see a holiday play or have a dinner in a festive restaurant, just the two of you.
  12. Christmas Eve Present: Let the kids unwrap one present on Christmas Eve – their special Christmas jammies that they get to wear that night (and probably most of the next day).
  13. Christmas Eve Caroling: After your Christmas Eve dinner and a couple of glasses of wine, take the whole family out caroling around your neighborhood to spread Christmas cheer and enjoy the fresh air.
  14. Cook Something Unique for Christmas Eve Dinner: In our family we always had clam chowder and corn bread the night before Christmas. Random, yes – but I always looked forward to the meal because it meant Christmas day was just around the corner.
  15. The Night Before Christmas: Have the oldest (perhaps Grandma or Grandpa) read everyone “The Night Before Christmas” on Christmas Eve.
  16. Don’t forget the Reindeer: Make reindeer food (oats and candy sprinkles) and have the kids throw some on the lawn in the front year. Santa’s not the only one who get’s a treat!

2 comments

  1. Great list! But I'm glad you mentioned NOT attempting to do them all. I think some people (especially in this age of Pinterest) feel like they need to do it ALL, and then they get overwhelmed and don't enjoy the holidays... One thing we always do on the 24th is track Santa on the NORAD website. My kids love that.

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About The Author Kristin Helms

Corporate life turned stay-at-home #momlife, Kristin Helms is a mother of two, writer, and founder of Tribe Magazine. Her mommy musings have been published on The Huffington Post, Pregnant Chicken, Big City Moms, and Literary Mama, among others.