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Creating Family Holiday Traditions

Great activities for all ages you'll want to do every year


What is your favorite part of the holidays season? Opening gifts under the tree Christmas morning? Caroling with friends? Ice skating at a local pond? No matter how you celebrate, parents everywhere agree that when kids are part of the holiday festivities, the winter holidays are that much more special. The best thing about family holiday traditions is that they can be ones that your family has done for decades, or new activities that you decide on together as a family. Try one of these.

Share What You Are Thankful For

A great tradition for the Thanksgiving table, talking about what is most special and precious to you is a great way to start off the holiday season. You may get funny answers from kids -- one year my friend's son announced he was grateful to the dry cleaner for giving him a lollipop every time he came in -- but that is part of the fun. Instilling a sense of gratefulness early is something that will stay with your little ones their whole lives. And don't feel you have to limit this conversation to that big meal held the fourth Thursday in November -- this is a great way to encourage your child to do some self-reflection year round.

Chocolate Gelt Lost and Found

Hiding the chocolate Gelt can be a fun game to play during Hanukkah.
Divine Chocolates

A popular Hanukkah game designed for the kids, you may find everyone wanting to get involved in this fun family activity. Buy a bag of chocolate gelts (gold coins). Hide them throughout the house and see who can find the most. You can award prizes to whoever finds the most, but really, when chocolate is involved, doesn't everyone win? If younger children are playing with older ones, make sure to hide the coins in easy-to-find places and consider placing a limit on the number of pieces find so it is fair to everyone.

Pajama Mama (and Dada and Sister and Brother)

Wearing holiday pajamas can be a fun holiday tradition.
Pottery Barn Kids

In our house, we celebrate Christmas. And every Christmas Eve we all get one special gift to open -- a set of brand new pajamas to wear that night to bed so we all have something nice to wear when we open our presents Christmas morning (sometimes we are even nicely coordinated as well). Make the tradition more special by letting your little ones pick out what their siblings or even what you will wear. You can all match one another, or simply wear corresponding (or not) patterns.

Let Your Little One Be Santa's Helper

The hardest part of opening gifts on Christmas morning when you are four years old? Watching other people open gifts. When your a kid, for sure, it's more fun to tear into your own gifts. Help curb your little one's impatience by giving them an important job. Maybe she can hand out the gifts -- help her read the tags if she needs assistance -- or put him in charge of gathering up the discarded wrapping paper. He hand hand out drinks and snacks or, if she's responsible enough, hand over the camera (or pick up a disposable for this very purpose) so she can document the fun of the day.

Make Gingerbread Houses

Making and decorating a gingerbread house can be a great holiday activity.

Whether you make your own or buy a pre-packaged set, spending an afternoon making a gingerbread house with your preschooler can be quite fun. Stop by your local dollar store and load up on fun, interesting-shaped candies like peppermints, chocolate dots and licorice (think ahead next year and set some leftover Halloween candy aside for this very purpose). It doesn't have to look perfect -- let your little one take the lead. And after some photos, display it for all to see, or, feel free to snack on your creation!

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