Every family has their traditions. They’re the things that always bring us together, that bring out our laughter, and make us who we are. Sometimes it takes an outsider for us to recognize what our family's traditions are, just like how we spot the unfamiliar quirks and routines of others when visiting friends.
That’s the beauty of traditions, particularly those shared during the holidays. Our neighbors down the road and across the country have different activities and celebrations, each of them deeply meaningful.
Today we’re sharing some of our favorite family traditions. Find one you love? Introduce it into your annual holiday routine (it’s never too late to start).
1. Bake Holiday Treats Together
Together is the important word here. Every year, pick a day to do your holiday baking with your family. If the idea of too many cooks in the kitchen is daunting, share the experience with a specific loved one – teach your daughter, get creative with your spouse, or visit your mom to carry on a decades-old tradition.
Whether you’re making dozens of Christmas cookies, chocolate chip challah bread or coconut pound cake, make the most of the experience. Turn on some festive music and shut off the rest of the world. Enjoy the time spent making something you love with a person you love.
2. Santa’s Footprints
Speaking of baking, set aside a cup of flour for a fun Christmas-morning surprise for the kids. Place a pair of large boots at the base of your chimney and sprinkle flour all around the perimeter of the boots. Do the same thing step by step over to your tree to show Santa’s snowy steps as he delivered Christmas presents.
3. Take a Family Photo, Your Way
Make it a tradition to capture a full family photo every holiday season. No absentees allowed! For your unique twist, choose a consistent style, pose or location to recapture each year, such as:
- Matching pajamas for all ages
- Coordinating cozy sweaters by the fireplace
- A goofy photo in reindeer antlers and elf shoes
- Candid, relaxed scene at home
- In action at the tree farm
Let the annual family photo become a tradition that you always set aside time for. Set the camera up on a tripod with a timer so everyone can be in it.
4. Add to Your Collection of Photo Ornaments
What’s your ornament stash like? One big bin with a mix of pretty, store-bought ornaments and homemade hanging keepsakes? Or do each of your children have their own shoebox full of favorites?
Make it a tradition to add one great photo ornament to your collection each year. They are the perfect balance between style and personality, and you can choose to follow whichever photo theme you like. An annual family portrait, a photo of the biggest family milestone of the year – like a new grandbaby or a great vacation – or a photo of the family dog having a riot playing in the snow.
5. Give Back as a Family
Understanding the importance of volunteering from a young age will last a lifetime, and generations to come. Make it part of your holiday tradition to spend an evening volunteering at the food bank, or any other local effort to give back to your local community.
One of our favorites: Go on a shopping trip where the purpose is for each of your kids to pick out (and purchase, if they’re old enough) a gift for a child in need. Go together to drop it off at the toy drive location so they can see the process through from beginning to end.
6. Hot Cocoa Nights
There is nothing quite like the feeling of togetherness and warmth you get from a night at home with the family, watching a classic movie and drinking hot chocolate together. Make it unique to your family with a twist, like:
- Making the hot chocolate mix from scratch
- Wrapping up all the holiday movies you have and picking one at random per night
- Creating personalized photo mugs with pictures you love
7. Relive the Memories of the Year
A year goes by in a flash. Slow down during the holidays to reflect and laugh over all the highlights. As a gift to the whole family, pull together all the pictures into a family photo book. Get everyone to put down their phones for a few minutes, and come together on the couch to flip through it page by page.
8. Go See the Lights
People put a lot of care and creativity into decorating their homes for the holidays. Enjoy it while it lasts! Pack into the van and go for a drive one evening to see as many decorated houses as you can. Many communities now create digital maps so you can plan your route around the best-decorated places. Blast some tunes and take votes on your favorites.
It’s never too late to add to your family’s list of holiday traditions. Whether they are religious, creative, simple or wild – enjoy them. After all, sharing love and memories with family is what the most wonderful time of the year is made for.