Christmas Holiday Traditions

Christmas traditions create family memories. Ideas to help you plan one or two activities for your family.

In today's fast-paced lifestyle families have little time to establish traditions. The Christmas season is the perfect time to create memories for your family, and starting traditions is a great way to build them.

Establishing a family tradition can be a family decision or an individual's desire to start the activity and continue each year. The idea doesn't have to be discussed, just acted upon each holiday season. Before long, your family will come to expect it, and tradition is set. The holiday season brings family together in a different way than other family get-togethers. The holidays place a magical veil of expectations on the season. Traditional activities can help lessen after holiday "blues".

Things to consider when planning your family traditions:

- Age groups

- Does your family have children? Some activities will require that you plan for several age groups:

- Infant to Toddlers

- Three to Six-year-olds

- Seven to Ten-year-olds

- Eleven to Fourteen-year-olds

- Fifteen to Eighteen-year-olds

- Young Adults?

- Nineteen to Twenty-five-year olds

- Married

- Unmarried

- Adults

- Twenty-six to Forty-eight-years-old

- Forty-eight to Sixty-years-old

- Seniors [over sixty-years-old]

- Family Size

- Large families may need to divide into age categories for certain activities to lower cost and encourage participation.

- Small families may need to encourage participation to make an activity interesting.

- Cost

- Keep costs low so everyone can participate.

- Whenever possible establish a tradition that costs nothing.

- Always consider other family members' income before establishing a tradition that costs a lot to prevent financial strain or prevent someone from participating.

- Time commitment

- If your activity takes preparation before the family get-together be considerate of the amount of time it takes to prepare.

- Keep activities uncomplicated and fun so "everyone" will enjoy them rather than dread the annual activity.

Ideas for individual families:

- Twelve Days of Christmas

This tradition can be started when your children are toddlers or at any age. Twelve days before Christmas [Christmas serves as the twelfth day] hang a stocking for each family member. Each day place a trinket or goody in the stockings. This is usually a "Mom tradition" but anyone and everyone can get involved if they wish.

Stocking Ideas:

- Candy/gum

- Bubbles

- Balloons

- Crayons/coloring books

- Paper dolls

- Play dough

- Water colors/paper

- Inexpensive toy

- Barrettes/headbands

- Makeup/fingernail polish

- Fishing lures/bobbers

- Magazines/paperback books

- Movie tickets

- Video/game rental vouchers

- Dinner vouchers

- Kids might want to add vouchers: back rub, carry out trash, do the dishes, dust, vacuum.

You can collect a box of goodies throughout the year whenever you see something you think a family member would like. Some of the gifts [dinner out, movies, videos, games] are activities you would do with the your family anyway but receiving them as a gift makes them twice as fun.

- Another traditional activity that is fun for small children is a Christmas countdown. You can purchase a calendar with doors that open to reveal a different holiday picture each day or hang twenty-four candy canes (one for each day of December minus Christmas Day) across your fireplace mantel or on a string hooked across the wall. Each day split one cane between the children or hang it on the Christmas tree.

- Family night once a week throughout the hectic holiday season is a great way to create childhood memories. Rent videos of your favorite holiday movies, add popcorn and sodas or hot chocolate and snuggle under blankets to watch without outside interruptions.

- Insert a holiday CD into the CD Player and spend the afternoon or evening baking cookies and making candy for the holidays. Get everyone involved.

- Take the family to a tree lot, tree farm or into the woods to pick out a Christmas tree.

- Have a Tree-Trimming Party. Play Christmas songs while the entire family decorates the tree. Serve pizza afterwards.

- Read holiday stories together.

- Buy each child an ornament [use a permanent marker to put their initials on the bottom]. When each child leaves home they will have a few ornaments to start decorating a tree.

Ideas for large family get-togethers:

- Drawing names for gift exchange is a traditional activity in large families. Add to the fun by requesting that no one reveal the name they draw and only write who the gift is for on the tag along with a description of the gift giver. They have to figure out who brought the gift before they can open it. Another fun gift giving activity is to write a description of the gift inside on the card. They have to guess what is inside before they open the gift.

- Divide into age groups and bring a gift that anyone in the age group would enjoy. Play chance to steal with holiday trivia [before or after opening gifts]. Each person [by age, youngest to oldest or oldest to youngest] is allowed to ask one question of the person whose gift they want to steal. If they answer correctly they keep the gift. If they give the wrong answer, gifts are switched. No limit on the times an individual person can be asked a question.

- Share funny memories of past Christmas'.

- Take a family portrait of everyone [take two so the photographers can each be in one].

- Traditional foods are a Christmas tradition unsurpassed. Most families pass on their favorites from generation to generation, adding to them as new members marry into the family and bring along their own traditions. Christmas Day is definitely a time to put diets aside and enjoy samples of everyone's favorites and new dishes that may be the best yet. Make it a tradition for everyone to bring a favorite dish.

Remember that holiday traditions are supposed to be fun and a tool to bring family closer. Add one or two new traditions each year to build the holidays your family dreams of experiencing.

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