Whether it’s decorating cookies, having snowball fights with the neighbors, or celebrating the Winter Solstice, we all have our favorite winter traditions…many of which stem from our own childhood and family memories. To celebrate this magical time of year, take some time to think about which traditions you want to carry on, and what new ideas you have that could establish new traditions for generations to come. Here are some ideas to help get the ball rolling.
My best friend’s parents used to host a Christmas Eve drop-in party for family and friends. There were lots of kids in the house and there would be games to play and delicious food to eat. Now that I’m older, it doesn’t feel like Christmas without attending a gathering on December 24th!
When the kids are young, it’s a great time to begin incorporating donation gifts into the holiday traditions. It fosters a spirit of charity and makes the holidays meaningful in a different way, as the whole family learns the joy of giving to those who may not always have what they need.
Many families celebrate the Winter Solstice…the shortest and darkest day of the year. This is a day that has been celebrated by many cultures around the world and in a variety of ways. You might prepare a special meal, take a family hike to marvel at the beauty of our precious planet, or set up a screen and projector and watch a favorite movie under the stars.
Have a camping adventure INDOORS! – On a cold winter night, build a wonderful fire and bring sleeping bags and pillows to sleep on the floor. Turn off the lights and use candles and lanterns. You can roast marshmallows for s’mores or make hot cocoa. Tell stories and enjoy your time together until you all fall asleep by the fire.
Create a scavenger hunt of candy canes around the house. Whoever finds the most candy canes will win a prize: it might be the first mug of hot chocolate or the choice of what movie to watch that evening.
Make gingerbread houses together. You can be so creative and original. Use all kinds of candy decorations, and don’t forget to take pictures of your creations.
One way to make Christmas special is to choose your own Christmas tree. There are many Christmas tree farms within driving distance, and it can be a wonderful family occasion to drive to a farm to pick out the annual tree. Everyone helps choose just the right one, then it’s cut down and carried home to be loaded with decorations. There is nothing better than sitting around a beautifully lit-up, decorated tree with some delicious cider or hot cocoa, and watching special Christmas shows together.
Video chat (on Skype, Zoom, FaceTime) with a family or friend who lives out of town. Bring joy to someone far away who would love a conversation with you and your family. This is a win/win for everyone. If you’re not able to video chat, make a family video you can send to a far- away relative or friend.
Assemble a “family memories jar.” Make it a fun craft by cutting out long strips of paper and decorating a special jar. Then have each member of the family write out his or her 5-10 favorite memories from the past year on the strips of paper and add them to the jar. You can choose when to read them…maybe on Christmas Eve or perhaps New Year’s Eve. Each person can pull out a memory and read it. You can try to guess whose memory it is. Then put the jar away with the year clearly marked so you can look at your memories again the following year and in years to come. Make it a tradition and you will soon have a collection of yearly memory jars.