Holiday traditions are what childhood memories are made of! But they shouldn’t be made at the expense of mom’s sanity. Here are some favorite ideas for creating simple holiday traditions that can endure year after year, with minimal effort.
Holiday season is upon us and it really does feel like the most wonderful time of the year! I was raised in a house FULL of exciting, family memories centered around Thanksgiving and Christmas…but I also distinctly remember my mom being stressed out and (when I got old enough to notice) sleep-deprived.
I had all sorts of expectations of doing the same when I became a mom, until I realized that I’m kind of lazy. And really value sleep. And don’t want to do something if it’s not fun for me.
Because of that, we’ve developed a few super simple holiday traditions that all the kids get excited about and that I don’t dread. In fact, these are all simple enough that the kids themselves can take charge, if I’m feeling particularly overwhelmed.
Look at old photos
We subscribed to Chatbooks for years and automatically had our Instagram feeds made into keepsake photo books! And now, many other photo companies offer this super simple option for preserving family memories.
I’m always surprised how much looking through these old books delights my kids. You could create a book of holiday photos to look back on at the same time every year. Or just set aside a day & time every Thanksgiving season to look at past pictures and see how much everyone is grown.
What about going one step further and setting up the projector or TV to show old pictures while everyone munches popcorn? My kids would go crazy over that.
Decorate for the holidays on a specific day
You might already be doing this tradition without actually calling it a “tradition”. If you’re going to decorate the house and Christmas tree anyway, why not have the kids help and make a special snack to commemorate the occasion?
This tradition is especially fun to do while holiday music plays and wassail simmers on the stove. If you’re OCD like me (and can’t stand how kids decorate things), try to let go of your control issues for one day…and then you can rearrange everything after they go to bed.
Do some (simple) service
The holidays can be very lonely and sad for single parents, those who have lost a loved one and the elderly. Why not have one of your traditions involve bringing cheer into someone’s life?
A few super easy ideas include:
• visiting a Giving Machine in your community
• taking a treat or meal to someone less fortunate (storebought or takeout counts!)
• going caroling at a Senior Center
• dropping off blankets or stuffed animals at a local children’s hospital
Admittedly, a few of these require some forethought but the dividends of teaching your children Christlike service are well worth it. There’s no tradition more noble for kids to look forward to every year than service.
Read a special story
The Night Before Christmas, the Bible Nativity, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever…holiday story options are endless. You could choose an entire week leading up to the holiday and read a different themed book each day, or just designate one special night of the season as “holiday story night”.
I picture hot chocolate, a cozy fire and Christmas pjs. Or just everyone cuddled on the couch right before bed. Simplicity is the key to longevity.
Recording the year’s highlights
Several years ago, a friend gave me a cute tin box and a stack of blank cards to write Christmas memories on. I decided instead to write down a few highlights from the entire year itself on these little cards and store them for the future.
They have been SO fun to look back on every holiday season. We store them with our Christmas decorations so they stay special and don’t get lost. We bring them out to read over and over again during the holiday season, and then before packing everything back up, I write the current year’s highlights on a new card and put them all away.
My favorite part is that the cards are so small, I don’t have to come up with much to fill them. We include things like getting a family pet, a baby’s birth, a family trip, or any other major life event. The kids just never get enough of reading what happened the year they were born, or the year they turned 3, etc. So simple!
I hope these ideas are helpful for you as you navigate holiday time with your family. Remember, once you start even simple holiday traditions, kids will often latch on and never let go, so make sure it’s something sustainable. And remember, it’s family togetherness that makes the holidays special, not the activities, so feel free to let go of whatever isn’t serving you.