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Create Traditions for Your Family: Start Now

When we look back at our childhoods, usually one thing always stands out: traditions at the holidays. They are near to our heart and hold a wealth of memories. It’s no surprise then that we may reflect on these traditions to create our own—or the opposite can occur: we might decide it’s time to trade those traditions for new ones that are a better fit. (There’s no rule after all that says you have to replicate the traditions of your own childhood.) No matter which activities and memory-makers you decide to start, do it twice and your children will understand it’s a tradition—simple as that.

As you consider which traditions to begin or continue with your children, keep these suggestions in mind:

Consider what your family likes. Are you a puzzle-making family? Or more of a board game fam? Do you enjoy taking drives together? Ask yourself what are things you already do well together as a family? Simply add some holiday flair to those activities and it’s an instant tradition. For example, turn your Sunday afternoon drive through the park into an evening of viewing holiday lights complete with hot cocoa.

Be creative. Let’s be clear: your holiday traditions are your holiday traditions—they don’t need to look like any other family’s and there’s no need to compare. Also, if you have traditions you already enjoy you can always take them up a notch or tweak them to make them work better for your family this year (sometimes this helps as children grow).

Think about the feeling you’re hoping to create. Do you want to bring a sense of wonder to the holiday season? Maybe develop a stronger connection with your religious beliefs? Or are you hoping to simply foster happy connections with the ones you love? Once you narrow down the feeling you’re going for, you can choose traditions that align.

Look at the big picture—and don’t stress about the details. If you’re trying something new, go in with an open mind and low expectations. Being too attached to how you want the new activity to go can cause unnecessary stress and make you focus on the wrong things. Think about the big parts of your new tradition and see what happens. There’s something special in the unknown, isn’t there?

Take a risk. Don’t forget to have a little fun in the midst of all this new-tradition planning. Be ready to laugh and keep your sense of humor. If something doesn’t go according to plan or totally flops don’t worry—laugh about it this year and skip it when the holidays roll around again.

Know when it’s time to let go. Our families change—what worked last year may not this year. Riding the train downtown may not be in the cards this year if your toddler has moved on from the choo-choo phase. And watching a family movie together might be too embarrassing for your tween. But that’s OK—it’s important to enjoy the memories you’ve created and move on to new ways of celebrating if the old ones no longer fit. Think of it as #festiveflexibility.

Give yourself grace. Sure, you may want to be supermom or dad … but let’s face it: the holidays can be a chaotic and stressful time (yes, even in the midst of all that joy!). Nobody is keeping score on what traditions you start or stop—so whether you do a complete overhaul or don’t change a single thing, be patient and gentle with yourself as a parent. The old adage is true: it’s the thought that counts—and your children will feel your love from the simplest tradition to the grandest. 

Still Looking for a New Tradition to Start?
How about subscribing to Little Learning Hands explorer boxes? Not only will you enjoy spending time together as a family each month in the new year, but you’ll foster a sense of learning and cultural awareness for years to come. Just because the holiday season comes and goes doesn’t mean the traditions have to.