Family Traditions: 7 Ideas to Try This Holiday Season

Haley Zapal | December 15, 2020 | Parenting Tips

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**This blog post was updated on November 25, 2022.**

The holidays are a special time for families all across the world. The family traditions you start now can last for a lifetime and become not only cherished memories but also established activities that everyone looks forward to each and every year. To get you inspired, we’ve compiled a list of some fun things to do together to help make the winter days a little more special and quality time a little more meaningful. 

Make or Order a Special Meal

Cooking and eating together can be a great way to increase family bonding time and add to your annual family traditions. Most folks probably know about holiday food staples like Christmas ham or turkey, and the delicious latkes and jelly donuts of Hanukkah. To mix things up though, consider an entirely new tradition this year. You won’t have to replace existing traditions, of course. Simply pick a different night and make a brand new recipe, like lasagna or tamales. You could also designate a holiday pizza night and order everyone’s favorite slice. And for family members that don’t live nearby, it can be great to ask for recipes and then take lots of photos of the finished product to send!

Explore Somewhere New Together

Whether it’s just across town to a park or neighborhood you’ve never visited or a vacation out of the state, getting out and exploring the world can definitely help raise spirits during the colder days of winter. You could even make it educational with a visit to a nearby historical site or monument, or something purely fun, like if a movie or TV show was filmed near you. 

Give Back as a Family

Teaching your kids about the importance of giving back to their community is even more special during the holidays, and there are all kinds of ways to help make the world a better place. Something that every family can do is head out together on a walk with a trash bag and help clean up your local neighborhood or park. You could also organize a socially distant canned food drive for a food bank or church in your city. If your family has money to spare this year, you could discuss as a family the issues important to everyone, and then make a contribution to an agreed-upon non-profit or charity.

Host a Zoom Family Trivia Night with Relatives

For family members who don’t live nearby, a great way to bond during the holidays is to have a Zoom call with a fun activity! Consider creating a family trivia night to see who has the best memory — the ones that do can bask in the glory and the younger ones will get to learn! Questions could include things like “When did Grandpa graduate from high school?” and “What is Mom’s favorite movie?” You could also mix things up with general trivia questions or family history.

Create Movie Family Traditions

Your family probably already has a long list of holiday movies they like to watch, but it can be fun to create a brand-new movie tradition in your house. Whether it’s a marathon viewing of all of the Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings movies, or a single screening of a classic like The Princess Bride or Jurassic Park, you and your kids can snuggle up with hot cocoa and popcorn to watch these family favorites year after year.

Make Holiday or Year-End Music Playlists

Everyone loves music, so add year-end playlists to your family traditions! Have everyone make Spotify or YouTube playlists around a theme: favorite Christmas songs, most karaoke-able songs from musicals, or everyone’s most played tracks from throughout the year (even if it’s just the Greatest Showman or Hamilton soundtrack, no judgment here). When you’re done, create one master playlist with a few songs from everyone’s list to make one wild and diverse collection of songs! (Don’t be surprised if it’s a very eclectic mix — you’ll definitely be able to tell who picked what when it has Billie Eilish, Fleetwood Mac, Hall and Oates, BTS, and Outkast).

Make a List of Yearly Family Milestones

Think about big milestones like school graduations and birthdays, but also smaller, sillier things like “Bella learned to whistle” or “Mom and Dad learned how to play Among Us.” Whether you start one or two new family traditions this year or a dozen, at the end of the day, it’s all about who you’re with. Take time to show some love to your family this holiday season and add some extra family bonding time. The kids will be grown up before you know it!

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