Home Is Where the Holidays Live: Keeping Family Central to the Holidays

Andrea Evans
December 11, 2015

Sometimes in all the rushing around, we forget to slow down and enjoy the moments. Shopping together takes the place of sitting around the fire roasting marshmallows. Hopping from party to party supplants taking the time to walk around and sing carols to your neighbors. It's hard to slow down -- we have as a hard a time with it as the rest of you. But this year, we're hoping to do things a little differently. Many of us have traditions that we carry with us from our own childhood. Decorating the house on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Polishing the menorah that has been handed down from generation to generation. Baking cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve. But how many of us have taken the time to create a tradition of our very own? One that we begin with our children and hope that they can carry with them as the grow up and continue with their families. Maybe it isn't really a tradition if this is the first you do it, but these ideas all have the potential to become one. And they'll help you to slow down a little and enjoy the season a little more.

Keep a journal throughout the year of things that each family member is thankful for. This is something that could be filled out every Friday night, for example. At the end of the year, maybe during one of your holiday dinners, your family can enjoy reading from the journal and reflecting on all of the wonderful things that happened during the year.

Help your child choose a craft to make as a gift for family members or friends. This is something that can be done every year with the crafts getting more intricate as the children grow older. Some ideas are hand-painted plates with cookies, hand-painted frames with a favorite photo from the past year, handmade ornaments, beaded candle holders, and flower pots with filled with candles or plants. For very young children, handmade cards, hand-decorated gift wrap, and sticker-coated gift bags are a great way to start.

Let each family member pick his or her favorite holiday book. Sit down together one night and take turns reading all of these treasured favorites.

Go caroling with friends and neighbors. This is such a wonderful tradition that seems to have fallen by the wayside. Afterwards, invite your neighbors over for hot chocolate and cookies.

Start a family cookbook for your child and collect all of your family's favorite holiday recipes. Be sure to collect recipes from grandparents, too.
Take your family out for an adventure to find and cut down your own tree. You might also take this opportunity to teach your kids about the importance of planting more trees when one is cut down.

Visit your local farmer's market and take a moment to thank local farmers for the hard work that they do all year long to provide your community with such a bountiful harvest. Let your children pick out their favorite seasonal fruits and vegetables to cook for the week.

Write a family newsletter and give each child a section to either narrate or draw something that is special to them and they want to share or remember. This newsletter can then be part of your family's album or part of a holiday card that you send.

Make s'mores together. You don't need a campout to make this delicious childhood treat. You can roast marshmallows in your fireplace. If you don't have a fireplace, pick up some bamboo skewers and tea lights at the grocery store. You can make s'mores right at the dinner table!

From the Parents

  • Parent # 1

    Not at all! You could cut a shape out- example a bell and have him or her glue (with fingers- great sensory activity) different items on, like colorful sequences or even use stickers if easier. Punch a whole in the top and hang it on the tree. :-)

    over a year ago

  • Parent # 2

    Is my 18-month-old too young to do a Christmas activity with us, like make cookies or decorate the tree? Can anyone think of something that would be appropriate?

    over a year ago


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