Baking cookies. Finding and decorating the perfect Christmas tree. Terrorizing your children with escapades of a deranged elf. These are cherished holiday traditions that families across America partake in.
While it’s fun to look back and remember good times, I find even more joy in creating new memories with my family.
There are many reasons why you might want to create your own traditions. Marriage and having children brings two families into one, something new. Or maybe something happens that changes the way you experience the holidays, like the loss of a family member or a big move. Or maybe you’re just looking to change things up this year.
Finding the right holiday traditions for your family can be exciting and fun, but it can also seem intimidating. A quick Google search of “holiday traditions” yields about 55,200,000 results and you could spend weeks sifting through ideas about holiday activities, food and decorations on Pinterest.
Fear not. I’m here to provide some tips to help you identify holiday traditions that work for your family.
Try new things.
Just because you’ve always done something, doesn’t mean you have to continue, and just because you decide to try something new, doesn’t mean you’re married to it. Test the waters. You might find something you love. For instance, my family has annually gone to the same tree lot since my daughter was a newborn baby to pick out a tree and it has grown into a special tradition. This year, we decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather on Black Friday and visit a tree farm to cut down our own tree. It was such a fun experience for us, and I can see it growing into an annual event. I’m so glad we decided to try something new.
You don’t have to do it all.
We all want to create strong, meaningful holiday memories for our families, but in the era of Pinterest perfection, sometimes we feel pressured to stretch ourselves thin creating one spectacular experience after another. A little holiday magic can be fun, but choosing a few opportunities to wow your kids will be easier on you and will be just as appreciated. And, at the risk of sounding like a crotchety old lady who walked a mile uphill to school in my day, I don’t remember anything like candy canes growing from peppermints or waking up to my bedroom door wrapped in colorful tissue paper and guess what? I still thought Christmas was a magical, special time. If matching Christmas jammies are your thing, go for it. But, if you only feel pressure to grab the perfect pajama Instagram photo because it’s what the cool moms are doing, you may want to use your time differently.
Prioritize what matters most.
Your time is valuable, especially during this busy time of year. Christmas is so much more than presents and reindeer, and we make it a priority to focus on that. One of our meaningful traditions is attending Christmas Eve service at church (sometimes a day early) and we also seek out opportunities to teach our children to be generous to and show love to others during this special time of year. My family loves everything that comes with the holiday season, but, we don’t want to lose sight of why we’re celebrating.
It doesn’t always mean out with the old.
Carry on the traditions from your childhood that you loved most, but don’t be afraid to do them on your terms, in a way that works for your family. For as long as I can remember my grandfather’s siblings and their families have gathered on Christmas Eve. Growing up, I looked forward to this gathering every year. Although we live more than an hour away, my husband and I choose to prioritize attending with our own children each year. Partaking in this tradition has sprouted into other traditions for our family: singing along with Christmas songs on the radio, new jammies for the kids to wear home in the car, and late night Santa duty for my husband and I (we love it).
Finally, and most importantly, ask yourself why you’re doing it.
Is it aligned with your values? Is it worth the time or effort? Are you doing it just to appease someone else? Be truthful in your answers. You’ll be able to eliminate some activities that aren’t as meaningful to your family and replace them with more impactful traditions.