When you look back on your childhood, you can probably conjure up loads of happy memories. Summer vacations at the beach, game night with the family, choosing a special meal for your birthday; the list goes on and on. The holidays lend themselves particularly well to honoring and celebrating traditions. There are so many to choose from! Baking cookies with grandma, building gingerbread houses, lighting candles, singing songs, spinning dreidels and visiting Santa are just a few of so many precious holiday memories that you hold dear, and that will last a lifetime. No doubt, you will want your own new family to revel in the magic of holiday traditions as much as you do. The holiday season is a great time to create your very own.

While the holidays provide the perfect backdrop for establishing traditions, your family can begin building its own legacy at any time. Traditions don’t need to be grand gestures; they can be very small acts that are nestled in the hearts and minds of you and your children. Just like the rituals you establish with your family, it’s the quality of the time spent with people you love most that will be remembered for years to come and passed along to generation after generation. Family traditions are like the secret sauce. Each is as unique as the family that celebrates them, and the sentimental value is priceless. They’re exciting to look forward to and treasured to look back on. In eager anticipation, your little ones will no doubt ask, ‘is it time yet’? That alone will become a treasured memory!

Fun Holiday Traditions

The sky’s the limit when it comes to establishing your own family traditions. Start with some specific to the holiday season to get your creative juices flowing.

  1. A visit to Santa is an annual favorite for many families. It just might be what comes next that kicks the tradition up a notch like going to a local café for hot chocolate and sugar cookies. Extra marshmallows, please!
  2. Lots of communities now have their own version of a Festival of Trees. Have each family choose their favorite tree and tell what they like most about it.
  3. The holidays wouldn’t be complete without a little baking. Bring on the frosting and sprinkles! Don’t forget to set aside a couple of cookies for Santa.
  4. Frosty, Rudolph and Charlie Brown continue to delight audiences of all ages. Choose at least one of these Christmas classics to watch as a family. Hang a ‘do not disturb’ sign on all your devices and enjoy uninterrupted family time. Extra points for serving popcorn!
  5. Go toy shopping with your kids – for the Toys for Tots program, of course. Kids have an innate desire to help other children and will be proud to contribute to this worthy cause.
  6. Build a gingerbread house. Give each family member a side of the house to decorate and watch the creativity and happiness unfold.
  7. Read a holiday book every night as part of your child’s bedtime routine. Choose one for each day of Advent, the 12 Days of Christmas, or during Hanukkah.

Everyday Traditions

Of course, the holidays aren’t the only time to create special moments with your family and create lasting traditions. Sneak in a few all year long.

  1. Choose a random day and announce Pajama Day! Stay in your PJs all day long, relax the rules a little bit and enjoy the giggles the day will bring.
  2. Birthdays are the perfect backdrop for tradition-making. Wear a crown for the day? Choose a special meal? That goes for you, too, Mommy and Daddy.
  3. Have a family game night. Put away all electronic devices and spend some good old-fashioned quality time playing a board game. The timing of this family activity will enhance the memory of it, for instance, every Friday or the first evening of Grandma’s visit.
  4. Holidays throughout the year may call for their own traditions like an Easter egg hunt, carving jack-o-lanterns (with adult supervision, of course), and a family touch football game on Thanksgiving.
  5. Create a family gratitude journal. Every night before bed, have each family member jot down what they were most thankful for that day. Watch the gratitude grow, along with penmanship!
  6. Spending time together as a family is wonderful, but sometimes your children will need special one-on-one time. Take turns having daughter- or son-date night. Keep it simple as long as it’s just the two of you, it will be perfect.
  7. There will certainly be lots and lots of photo ops as your family grows. Include the first day of school and last day of school photos and be amazed at how much they’ve grown in a year.

There are so many activities that your family shares that can easily become traditions. The list is just too long! Most importantly, traditions provide a sense of belonging for every family. They connect each member to each other and begin to tell the family story. Many are tied to cultural activities which also give your children a sense of identity and a peak into their culture. More than anything, your children will remember the experience of the times gathered together, whether around a holiday table or a board game, that will stay in their hearts for a lifetime.