Packages, parties, concerts, and decorations flood the senses at the holidays. Sometimes all the flashing lights and holiday activities can become a distraction from what you really want to focus on—your family. Creating traditions with purpose is key to building those family relationships and memories that you’ll share for years. Here’s a list of possibilities, but the most important thing is to find traditions that work for you and your family.


1. Serve Others

Gratitude and love are underlying themes of the holidays. Serving others as a family will help focus everyone’s minds on those who may be in need. Some service possibilities include:

·         volunteering at a local soup kitchen

·         buy and donate toys to a charity

·         help an elderly neighbor set up and decorate a Christmas tree

·         clean a neighbor’s yard

·         go caroling

·         help neighbors dispose of trees after Christmas

2. Start a Gratitude Jar

During the holidays, put out a gratitude jar with slips of paper and a pen next to it. Members of your family can write down the things for which they are grateful on the slips of paper and place them in the jar. On a special evening at the end of the season, read them as a family.

3. Tour Neighborhood Christmas Lights

This is an easy, inexpensive tradition that everyone can enjoy. Make the evening special by bringing individual bags of popcorn or candy for everyone as you view Christmas lights. Play Christmas music and if your family is so inclined, sing along.

4. Food Traditions

Most families have favorite treats they like to bake at the holidays. If you don’t, this might be a fun way to start something new. Together with your family, bake your favorite family treat. It doesn’t have to be a specific holiday treat, but make sure everyone gets to be involved. To make it even more fun, make enough to take to your neighbors or someone else special in your neighborhood.

5. Have a Holiday Movie Night

A movie night is a relaxing way to spend time together. Pick your favorite holiday movie, make popcorn, and relax. There are some great holiday classics that you can share as a family. For something a little more ambitious, make it a holiday movie marathon where you take in all the classics plus a new holiday movie or two.

6. Decorate Together

Do you have holiday decorations with a history? An ornament handed down from your grandparents? When you decorate this year, do it as a family and talk about the history surrounding your decorations. This could also include humorous stories of past holidays.

7. Use Your Childhood Traditions to Create Your Own

This is less of a suggested activity and more of an idea of how to develop your own traditions. Part of what makes traditions special is the connection they can build between the past and present. Merging family traditions between spouses can be tricky. If you can incorporate one or two elements from each family to create one of your own, you’ll have a tradition that builds meaning for your family while also connecting to the past.



Traditions should bring your family together. If you have one that’s causing more strife than happiness, it might be time to let it go. Find activities that build meaning for you and your family so that you can have a special holiday season.