Establishing Special Traditions with your Family

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The holiday season is upon us, and with it, all of the pressures that the holidays bring. Will your turkey be ok, will they love your gifts, which family will you be visiting? I mean the list goes on and on. But today I want you to forget about all of those things. I hate to break it to you, but your holiday won’t be perfect. And that is exactly what will make it special. The imperfections are the things that make good stories later. And even more than that, I can’t remember what gift I got when I was 7, or how great the turkey was when I was 10, but what I do remember, are the special traditions that we shared. Traditions are the things that people look forward to year after year and they are the things that give you a bit of nostalgia. A certain smell can give you all the feels, a song, a taste, even a movie. The traditions created around the holiday are really what we look forward to year after year. But establishing traditions? How does that work? How do you come up with really cool ideas and then get them to stick?

I’m currently trying to figure this out with my young family, and I’ve come up with four ideas that I’d like to share with you.

Crowdsource (establishing traditions ‘buffet’ style)

Other people have really cool traditions! Seriously. Whether it’s friends, co-workers, other cultures or even people you don’t know that well. It’s just like a buffet, take what you want, pass on what you don’t and in the end everyone will be left with their own unique plate. See what I did there?

My family used to always open one gift on Christmas eve and I always thought that was cool. But then one day I was talking to someone and they were telling me that their family did the same thing except they would have a scavenger hunt to find the one gift. I thought that was so neat! So I incorporated that tradition.

Talk to people around you. See what they do, and take what you like! This is the one time when it’s ok to take someone else’s idea!


Re-use the traditions that you grew up with. So maybe you didn’t love everything that your family did, but maybe there were some that you did. It could be as simple as the menu for the big day, or reading The Night Before Christmas. Maybe you watched hallmark movies in your special ‘movie watching’ blanket.

When I think of Christmas growing up, I remember good food, great music, games and fun. All things that I want to incorporate with my family. And if you have a significant other, incorporate some of the things they loved growing up as well! Mesh the ideas and take the best of both worlds!

Don’t force it- establishing traditions should be enjoyable!

There are two points here. First, if you try something one year, and no-one likes it. Scrap it. It’s ok if it doesn’t become an annual event. It will make a good story, and that’s almost worth the bad experience. I remember when I was young, my parents decided to light a fire for Christmas. We’d had the fireplace for a long time, but we’d never used it, so I guess they thought it would be festive. Well, when i tell you our Christmas went up in smoke…..it’s literal. There was smoke everywhere. We had to open all of the windows to get the smoke out of our house and there we were on Christmas morning freezing and shivering instead of being huddled warmly around a fire. And after that, I can’t remember another time when my parents lit a fire in that house. Ha. They definitely scrapped it, but we got a good memory out of it.

The other way this tip goes is this. Don’t be so rigid about trying to institute these traditions, that you take the fun out of it. We’ve been decorating rice Krispy trains, or sweaters every year because my son has allergies. Well last year I couldn’t find them in stores and I felt panicked. I even looked them up online and they were almost 50 dollars (MAJOR up-charge). That’s when I realized I was trying to force something that wasn’t neccesary. I was stressed about this thing that didn’t really matter. In the end, they finally showed up in stores, but more importantly I learned that allowing the trivial things to hold so much importance is just setting myself up for failure. So don’t force it!

Have Fun with it

There really is no right way to do this. If your family has something that they really like to do, incorporate it! Last year, I decided to mix up my Christmas dinner. So you know what we had for Christmas? Lasagna. And it was amazing! I don’t know if that tradition will stick, but it was something my family enjoyed. What does your family enjoy? Is it games? Why not have a thanksgiving evening game showdown? Do you like outdoors? Why not have a Christmas eve geo-caching adventure? Are you into books? How about a family story night?

The options are endless. There is no right or wrong way to do this, and if it doesn’t work out for you, just scrap it next year! No harm done.

You’ve heard me say over and over again, that it’s the little things that matter. The same applies with holidays. It isn’t about all of the perfection and material things. It’s about how you make others feel. Will your children have fond memories of family togetherness and love when they look back on the holidays? You have the opportunity to make that happen for them. Have fun establishing traditions!

Make life sweet and learn all you can.

P.S. What are some neat family traditions that your family has adopted? I’d love to hear them below!

(1) Comment

  1. […] it. The only holiday drink you’ll ever need! Maybe it’ll become one of your December traditions! Let me know how you like it, and happy holidays to you […]

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