Celebrating the holidays is one of the best ways to bond with your family. When your kids are little, it's the perfect time to start a tradition that they will carry on to the next generation. Think about how your own family has celebrated the holidays, or even stories you've heard from the past about your family's history. Holiday traditions make lifelong memories and encompass everyone in your life, from young to old.
If you are struggling to think of some holiday traditions to share with your kids, or even if you don't want to move forward with the traditions from your past, here are some you can think about incorporating.
The holiday season is one when people, regardless of tradition or religion, give gifts. Each family will have its own style and methods for how it all plays out. Try drawing names from a hat for a 'secret giver' and revealing them after gifts have been opened. Play a quick game like 'Go Fish!" or "Duck, Duck, Goose," where the winner gets to open their present first.
When it comes to the gifts your children will give to friends and family, have them make ornaments—anything from beadwork to handprints to school pictures encircled by glitter macaroni. Speaking of ornaments, have your kids make knick-knacks for you too. You can collect these keepsakes every year until your children become of age, at which point they can pass them on to their young ones.
If you're religious, or even if you're not, there are a number of great stories that can be read about the holidays— from Bible stories to mythology. Depending on your beliefs, or how far you want to stretch the boundaries, find some books that you can read as a family. You may also wish to watch holiday movies. Complete the mood by getting into your pajamas and snuggling up to a fire with snacks and a blanket.
Should these ideas not tickle your fancy, you can decorate a dessert or have your kids help you make a meal that relates to your family's culture and upbringing. If you are looking to get out of the house, drive the kids around your city and check out the holiday displays, lights and decorations people set out. Once back home, you guys can end the night with a cup of hot chocolate, eggnog or apple cider.
Spread the Joy
Many people look for ways to give back during the holidays. What better time to teach your kids to have a "pay it forward" mentality? Take them with you when you volunteer at a local soup kitchen, or have them help gather up their old clothes and toys to donate. If you do the latter, be sure to tell them about the children their belongings will be going to. Paint a picture and tap into how there are children their age who, unfortunately, do not have all that they do and how giving them the items will make a difference in their lives.
Let Your Voices be Heard
Many young children love the feeling they get when they dress up and sing. Perhaps you have a child who likes to entertain the family and put on a show when everyone is around. While it may sound cheesy and unoriginal, there is something exuberant about learning carols and going door to door singing with your kids. It will surely provide long-lasting memories for you both—and you'll spread some cheer while you're at it.
Holiday parties are one of the best parts of the season. Consider throwing an annual holiday party at your home with games, food and even a 'white elephant' gift exchange. Don't worry about being fancy or fret about spending too much money—throw a potluck and have guests chip in, make the gift exchange limit $25 or less, and choose games that you or others already have.
Remember there is no "best" tradition that trumps the others. The best traditions are those that your family enjoys and those that will provide the most lasting memories. The biggest criteria for a holiday tradition is that it be one you and your kids do together. Whether you cook, create, sing, read or find other ways to spend time together, make the most of the holidays by making memories that the next generation will want to carry on.