The holidays are a time for friends and family to get together and celebrate with annual traditions. How do you get the most out of your family traditions? I have a few tips here to help make holiday traditions more fun and more meaningful.
Family traditions are FUN
The more somber traditions we take part in this time of year are certainly important. But it’s also important to have some fun with your family!
Family traditions are a great way to enjoy the holidays and bring your family closer together, and they’re as unique as you are. Some families celebrate The Christmas Pickle, hiding a pickle-shaped ornament in the Christmas tree. The child who finds the Christmas Pickle first gets an extra present. Some families break the turkey’s wishbone after dinner for good luck. You can use traditions that already exist like these, or come up with your own.
Sometimes traditions evolve over time by themselves. Different families celebrating the same holiday will always do something a little different. If your family celebrates Hannukah, do you include gifts or not? Even the time you eat a holiday meal can be a tradition that develops over time.
Make them experiential
Holiday traditions don’t have to rely on objects to be meaningful.
Your family might:
- Take a walk in the snow (or balmy, 70-degree weather if you’re in Los Angeles!) after your holiday lunch or dinner every year. It’s a great way to make memories with your family, and work off some of that turkey.
- Go around the table and say what you’re thankful for on Thanksgiving
- Look over the past year on New Year’s Eve, and remember good things that happened that year.
Experiential traditions bring families closer together, cost nothing, and create no clutter!
Re-vamp when it’s time
As families grow and time passes, traditions will change—and that’s okay! When a change occurs, let your traditions be flexible to accommodate that change. As people in your family get married and have babies, new people will come into the mix. Three years ago your family dinner may have been upscale, but if there are now toddlers running around it might be best to put the good china away.
Traditions also adapt as family members depart. New people can step into the roles of the departed, or space can be left to remember the person who’s no longer with you. There’s nothing wrong with traditions evolving in the absence of someone, and it’s up to each family to decide how to proceed.
Whatever your family traditions are, remember to have fun and keep it flexible.
What are your family’s unique traditions? Comment below, I would love to hear them!
I particularly enjoyed the section on re-vamping. Our family has had to do this multiple times and one thing I learned along the way is that it is the coming together that is important and the actual day of the celebration is not that important – the day before or after or even a week later is fine.
You got it, Jonda! Adopting an attitude of flexibility really helps de-stress holiday plans.
I have so many traditions I can’t even begin to list them. One is that the day after Thanksgiving the women go out for lunch and shopping and the men put up all the outside Christmas decorations. Works for me!
I do agree that it is important to flex traditions. Traditions should enhance our joy during the holiday season, not cause stress.
Exactly, Seana. The whole point is fun and togetherness, not stress : )
What fun about the Christmas pickle! I never heard of that before. I love adding the “fun” factor into the holidays or adding something extra to traditions. Thanksgiving didn’t happen as usual last year, and this year it will be slightly different too. However, one of our traditions is that the entire family (or the people who want to) get up and take a walk in the woods before we sit down to eat. It’s a wonderful way to bond, get some exercise before the big meal, and have extra casual time together. This year because we’re starting a bit later, it will be e dark. I’m not sure we’ll get to walk. But some family will be around on Friday, and I hope we can take our walk that day instead.
A walk through the woods sounds so nice!
You are so right about revamping. In fact, as a kid, I experienced tense Thanksgivings and hated the holiday. But in the last 30 years, we changed venues, disinvited people who made us unhappy, and developed our own traditions— dancing to Ella Fitzgerald during hors d’oeuvres, saying what is is for which we are grateful, and listening (and singing along) to Alice’s Restaurant. Arlo Guthrie’s hysterical song about a Thanksgiving kerfuffle is an anti-Vietnam protest and an unlikely dessert accompaniment, but it works for us. Now, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.
We also break the wishbone, but assumed that was something everyone does with turkey, whenever they have it, holiday or not. No?
And what’s with the pickle? 🙂
The Christmas Pickle is a real thing, I promise! Haha. Your Thanksgiving sounds like beautiful chaos, I hope it’s just as wonderful this year.
When my mother was alive Christmas dinner was always a sit-down event passing serving dishes. Now we do it as a buffet. We use fewer serving dishes and more oven to counter casserole dishes. It is easier to keep the food warm for seconds. Everyone loves it.
I’m glad you found a way to evolve your Christmas dinner, Julie!