Traditions are important. Keeping them up is especially important when you aren’t with everyone you would like to be around during the holidays.
In our home, every season has traditions that we like to do together as a family. It is tough to want to do some of those things when you aren’t all together, but it is even more important, especially so for kids. Your children want your time and to laugh with you doing specific things that bring back fond memories and create new ones.
One year we decided to do a Christmas vacation to the sun and sand. To get a good deal, we flew on December 25th at 6 am… the kids loved the holiday but did want to do it ever again. They felt like they missed out on Christmas – it wasn’t the presents. They still got plenty. It was about the days leading up and afterward and all the things we did as a family that the sun and sand couldn’t replace.
Creating traditions for your family will support a sense of togetherness, predictability, and routine that all children (no matter what their age) need and crave at what can be a chaotic time of year. Make a list of things to do before the beginning of December so that you have a sense of what is most important to your children. You cannot do it all, especially if you do it alone.
You may find it interesting what the rest of the family finds most important and what can be let go. Ensure that the activities you do, don’t need to be on a specific date, since it is easy when your children are young to keep to dates, but as they grow up and out of your homes, it will be easier to keep traditions alive if you are flexible with timings. It isn’t so much about the date you do them on, but about the fact that you do them together.
Traditions to Consider:
1. Go ice skating. Even if you have to go indoors
2. Hot chocolate and Beavertails. Or whatever you and your kids associate as a treat at this time of year
3. See a holiday concert. We challenged ourselves to go and see concerts from different cultures and celebrations
4. Make a snow fort. Snow dependent, but you can make a sheet fort if the weather isn’t cooperating.
5. Have a snowball fight. If global warming continues, make it a water fight.
6. Bake cookies. Each family member chooses a favourite in our house.
7. Drive to see the Christmas lights. There is no shortage of people who love to decorate.
8. Have a movie marathon. A great excuse to put your feet up, put your phone away, and get lost in other worlds.
9. Make cards or ornaments. We make a new ornament every year for the tree
10. Christmas shopping day. We do this early, but it is still really fun to go out and find things for others together.
11. Sit by a fire. We have a wood fireplace, but if you don’t, there are usually quite a few outdoor places that have one, especially where there are sleigh rides.
12. Go on a winter sleigh ride. Wrap up and enjoy the cold on a sleigh
13. Board game night. A family favourite for us, we usually end up having a few nights of playing with different people.
14. Pajama day. Nothing says relaxing like not getting out of your pyjamas!
15. Fancy dinner. This isn’t to suggest you have to cook it. Get out the fancy plates, some holiday napkins, a candle or two, etc.
16. Go bowling. We do this when we are tired of embracing the cold and need to get everyone off the couch!
17. Pick out a Christmas tree. Try a tree farm or go to your local seller and make a night of it by doing a few other things on the list, like seeing the lights.
18. Tree decorating night. Invite a few friends, have a few snacks and drinks available and watch them decorate your tree.
19. Take Down The Tree Night. This project is one of my least favourite jobs. This year I am ordering pizza and making my teenagers do it. So they can invite friends and make a night of it.
20. Make a gingerbread house. There are a ton of different things you can make with gingerbread. For our family, it is all about the icing and candy.
21. Sing Christmas songs. They play for a month until someone tries to delete them from my phone!
22. Gift-wrapping night. My daughter and I put on a Christmas movie. Then, I get wine, she gets hot chocolate, and we wrap all our gifts.
23. Go for a hike in the snow. I can be a bit of a bear and want to hibernate in the winter, but going for a walk together is free and fun.
24. Selfish day. Everyone gets to do whatever they want and cannot ask anyone to do anything for them – eat leftovers, sleep in, read in peace and quiet, etc.!
25. Christmas Party. We do a Christmas drop-in party every year, which is an excellent way of seeing a lot of people without running around everywhere.