The holidays truly are a magical time, especially if you have young children. However, it can be easy to get caught up in the commercialism of the season and to develop feelings of guilt or inadequacy when you can’t afford everything on your children’s wish lists. Another pitfall that many mums experience is being so busy – with holiday events, shopping, social obligations, cleaning the house prior to company coming, and planning parties – that you don’t take time to slow down and truly enjoy the festivities.
It’s a cliche to talk about how spending time together as a family is much more meaningful than simply piling expensive presents under the tree, but it’s a cliche for a reason – it’s true!
One of the best ways to spend time together and make memories that your children will cherish for years to come is to develop holiday traditions. Sometimes, parents carry on traditions from their own youth, while others develop organically – returning to the same farm to cut down your own Christmas tree, for example, or baking a certain kind of cookie because everyone in the family loves them. You can also start brand-new traditions! Read on for some clever ideas that will not only be fun year after year but that your children will go on to share with their families.
Delicious, Homemade Holiday Traditions
Food plays a pivotal role in holiday celebrations. Many families have special recipes that get dusted off during this season. Maybe you indulge in the traditional Italian feast of the seven fishes, baking up a batch of cookies, build a gingerbread house together, or gather in the kitchen to make Christmas Eve tamales. The food takes a backseat to retelling family stories, laughing, and reminiscing.
A few other suggestions for edible traditions:
* Host a latke party, with plenty of applesauce and sour cream to go around.
* Make fondue for the grownups to enjoy on Christmas Eve, after the kids are abed, and while wrapping or assembling last-minute presents.
* Prepare a breakfast casserole, like baked french toast, the night before, then pop it in the oven before you open gifts in the morning.
* Make fudge, candy, or cookies to share with friends, neighbours, and teachers
* Rather than cooking an elaborate meal on Christmas Day, assemble cheeses, charcuterie, crackers and crusty bread, pickles, mixed nuts, veggies with dip, and other nibble food for everyone to snack on as they play with their new toys.
Traditions for Cozy Evenings at Home
Put together a YouTube or Spotify playlist with all of your favourite holiday tunes. That way, you won’t be at the mercy of radio stations airing commercials or playing songs that make you cringe. (lookin’ at you, “Christmas Shoes.”)
Decorating the tree — and the whole house, for that matter — can be a celebration that kicks off the holiday season. Make a big batch of hot chocolate, cue up your playlist, and get everyone involved in hanging ornaments or setting out decorations.
If your family spends every Friday evening watching a movie and eating pizza, make the switch to holiday-themed flicks or TV shows. Whether you prefer the animated specials from Rankin and Bass or classic films like It’s a Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street, this is a surefire way to get in the holiday spirit. Reading aloud is also a fantastic tradition, and there’s no shortage of Christmas books to choose from. For younger kids, choose “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “Olive: the Other Reindeer” or “The Polar Express.” Tweens, teens and grownups alike will appreciate “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” “The SantaLand Diaries” or “The Gift of the Magi.”
Crafty Christmas and Holiday Traditions
While it’s easy to buy ornaments, wreaths, garlands, greeting cards, and other holiday items, it’s much more fun and meaningful to make them yourself. Creating a paper chain from craft paper is an easy craft for the littlest members of your family if they are old enough to use safety scissors. Older kids can cut snowflakes, string cranberries or popcorn for a homemade garland, wrap wreath forms with fancy ribbon, or finger-knit glittery yarn to festoon the tree.
Another clever tradition is to make holiday t-shirts. For this craft, you’ll need fabric paint or markers and a supply of white or pale-coloured shirts. Save money by purchasing wholesale American Apparel t-shirts and stashing extras away for future years. Other fun supplies that you can use for embellishment include sequins, rickrack, lace, stencils, or appliques.
Once your t-shirts are done, don them for your family portrait. Or wear them, with coordinating fleece or flannel bottoms, in lieu of matching store-bought pyjama sets.
We hope that these ideas have inspired you! What unique holiday traditions does your family have? Tell us all about it in the comment section below – we’d love to hear what the holidays mean to you and your family!