Most families create annual traditions that turn into life-long memories – backyard Easter egg hunts, July Fourth beach picnics, festive birthday dinners. But the end-of-year holidays can be so rushed and hectic that we fail to generate the togetherness events our children will always remember.
Marriage and family counselor Marianne Denton suggests six cozy and meaningful traditions you can start with your kids this year:
- Holiday book nights – Gather up some age-appropriate favorites like The Polar Express and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas – and a book or two about holiday traditions in other lands. In the seven nights before Christmas, gather as a family to read these holiday treats together.
- Personal advent calendars – Create your own advent calendar using homemade markers, like cloth or paper bags tied with ribbon. While most advent calendars are filled with sweet treats, try filling yours with coupons offering family or personal activities.
- Cooking around the world – Set aside a night to cook a meal together featuring holiday treats from various ethnicities: Swedish stollen, tamales, German spaetzel, marzipan candy, or potato latkes.
- Giving traditions – Deliver homemade cookies together to a local nursing home along with an hour of caroling – or “adopt” a family through a local church or synagogue and fulfill their holiday wish list. Shopping, wrapping, and delivering gifts together can start a lifelong appreciation for giving.
- Pajama light party – Get the kids into pajamas, and surprise them. Load them into the car along with some popcorn and a thermos of hot chocolate – and drive around town looking for neighborhoods with the best holiday light displays.
- Open House get-togethers – Keep it simple, but invite the neighbors in one evening between Christmas and New Year’s Eve for a bowl of chili, a cookie buffet, and some non-alcoholic sparkling beverages for family toasting.
By Barbara Pronin