We all have our favorite traditions to look forward to every year. Some of the most common traditions include such things as getting a Christmas tree, putting up lights, or making festive holiday treats. Traditions are a great way of making this time of year even more unique and special, helping to bring friends and families closer together. Beyond just being fun, holiday traditions actually have some health and positive psychological benefits, particularly for kids.
While it’s true that most children get excited for the special toys and gifts they want for Christmas, they also look forward to the special traditions this time of year brings. Having traditions every year brings kids a sense of stability. This sense of stability can be especially important for teenagers, who tend to have a lot of changes happening in their world during this stage of their lives. In a nutshell, having traditions can help children feel safe and secure.
In addition, having holiday traditions can help kids feel useful. Because most holiday traditions involve everyone in the family, from helping decorate cookies to decorating the Christmas tree to singing Christmas carols, being actively engaged and playing a role in the tradition helps give children, especially younger children, a sense of importance.
Furthermore, studies show children raised in environments with traditions and family rituals have higher academic success, more happiness and emotional well-being, and less stress and anxiety. Researchers believe a big part of benefits come from the security, safety, regularity, and sense of order provided by regular traditions. Family rituals and traditions also give kids a sense of belonging. Engaging in fun and memorable traditions decreases stress from the business of life and helps to strengthen relationships as well.
Because holiday traditions are so fun, special, memorable, and beneficial, picking up new and different traditions can be a great way to give each year a little something unique and extraordinary! Here are some new and fun ideas for various holiday traditions you and your family can try this year!
- Go to a Christmas tree farm and pick out a tree together, then trim the tree, decorate it, and sip on hot cocoa! Make a day (or evening) of getting and putting up the tree; make it special by enjoying festive treats, listening to holiday carols, or putting on a Christmas movie!
- Make or find a personalized ornament for each person in the family! Another fun twist to ornament finding is to go on a family search to find the perfect ornament that symbolizes something big or special that has happened this past year.
- Bake holiday goodies and doorbell ditch them to your friends and neighbors!
- Get dressed up in nice or fun festive outfits and get pictures taken.
- Build gingerbread houses. For those of you who are competitive, have teams and see who can make the best gingerbread house.
- Get your picture taken with Santa Clause.
- Participate in doing a family “12 days of Christmas” giving project. This can be done however you decide to do it! For twelve days, do something for or give something to someone in need or who could use some additional holiday cheer.
- Have a Christmas movie marathon. This is especially fun when everyone puts on their special Christmas PJs.
- Have a Christmas story telling night around the Christmas tree and/or fireplace and enjoy telling the stories of the season.
- Go Christmas caroling around the neighborhood or at an assisted living facility.
- Decorate holiday cards and send them to family and friends.
- Have a Christmas (cookie) exchange party. Everyone who attends brings a plate of their favorite Christmas cookie to share.
- Another great and simple party idea is to have a hot chocolate bar. Have a big batch of hot chocolate with an array of toppings laid out.
- Go see local Christmas light displays.
- See a holiday play, such as the Nutcracker. Or go see a Christmas concert, such as Mannheim Steamroller or a local artist.
- Participate in an Angel Tree. Many department stores have a tree with names of kids or people who are in need this Christmas. Purchase a gift for those children in need this year.
- Donate food to the local food bank. This is another great way of giving and helping during this time of year to those who are less fortunate.
- Write letters to Santa and send them off to the North Pole.
- Make a countdown to Christmas chain.
- Have a Christmas talent show.
- As a family, write a holiday letter where each member of the family contributes a memorable moment from the past year.
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