Making Memories Through Holiday Traditions

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Memories…memories stay with us as we get older…memories affect how we live our lives. One way we can make memories is through family traditions. What are family traditions? Family traditions are those activities your family does on certain days or holidays throughout the year, such as for birthdays, anniversaries, spiritual birthdays, holidays, family nights, etc.

Making Memories Through Holiday Traditions

I don’t know about you, but it is these special times we had as a family when I was growing up that have a special place in my heart. I want to create special memories with my family as well, so that when my children are grown and on their own, they will remember the fun times we had and cherish the relationships built and memories that were made.

But…this will not happen if we just allow life to “happen”. We must be intentional! That means that we have to plan. We have to take the time now to sit down, talk it over as a family, and start writing some things down. Decide as a family what special holiday activities you want to do together..

Before we get into more details on exactly how you can be more intentional in planning these special memory-making holiday traditions with your family, I thought I would share a few from our family. I am only sharing these to give you an idea of what I am talking about…please don’t feel you must copy everything that we do. What can you do together as a family that would build memories, build character, and more importantly – build relationship with your family? Focus on those things for your family! Ok…here is a glimpse into our family traditions…

Friday Night is Pizza Night – This tradition started right after we got married and has continued to this day. Friday night is always pizza night!

The first snow – Whenever we get our first snow that accumulates on the ground, I make homemade hot chocolate with marshmallows for breakfast!

Christmas Cookie Plates – Every year after Thanksgiving, we begin planning for our cookie plates (using my Christmas Cookie Plates Project ebook). I buy all the ingredients we will need for the cookies, then plan what cookies we will make each day (1 recipe per day for 2 weeks). Over the next several weeks we have fun baking cookies together and then putting together cookie plates to give away to neighbors, city offices, library, etc.

Making Christmas Gifts – Each year we decide on some simple crafts for the kids to make to give as their Christmas gifts to family. It is always fun working on these as the holidays approach and the kids love having something “made by them” to give.

Our Read-Aloud Time – Yes, I am including this in our family traditions because it really has become a special time. We love reading together in the afternoons each day. During our school year we include biographies, classic literature, books on topics of interest, etc. Over the holidays, we enjoy reading holiday-related books such as Christmas in My Heart.

Christmas Decorating Night – Every year we choose a night the first part of December to decorate our home for Christmas. After all the decorating is done, we have a special dinner of yummy snacky food like crackers and cheese, summer sausage, chip and dip, sparkling cider, etc. We all get our plates, turn all the lights out except the Christmas tree and window lights, and sit and eat our dinner. I so enjoy this night every year.

Our Giving Jar – We have a giving jar that I put a pretty label on, and it sits in our dining room on the bookshelf. Whenever we have change or some extra cash, we stick it in the jar. It is fun to see it fill up through the year. In December then we take the jar down to the bank and convert it to paper money. Then as a family we decide what we are going to use the money for. This really is a fun idea and will encourage the spirit of giving through the whole year!

The Community Thanksgiving Dinner – For the past 10 or so years we have helped with our local (free) Community Thanksgiving Dinner. Each year I have helped by making pies, cakes, or turkeys. My husband and two older children have helped serve at the meal – from helping at the serving tables, cutting pies, doing dishes, cleaning up tables and pouring drinks, to helping with the carry-out orders and taking the orders over the phone. This has been a fun family “tradition” that has provided opportunity for us to serve as a family.

Now to get down to the practical steps to get you on your way to developing your own family holiday traditions…

How to Plan Intentional Family Traditions for the Holidays

1 – Make a list of special things you want to do as a family over the holidays. There are a ton of ideas, but things like making gifts, going to look at Christmas lights, a baking day, family movie night, etc. Include the whole family in coming up with ideas!

2 – Make a list of everything you need to buy for these special times. Now that you have your list of special things you want to do over the holidays, make a shopping list of everything you need to get ahead of time.

3 – Add these special times to your calendar. Once you have your ideas down on paper, it is time to add the activities to your calendar. Instead of just adding them to your calendar, you can also download the “Countdown to Christmas” free printable (link below) and write an idea for each day of December up until Christmas!

Now that you have your family traditions all written out and added to your calendar, you can focus on making memories with your children! Just remember that the purpose in these “traditions” is not to just give you more things to do. Family traditions should always be focused on building relationships among family members.

As you grow closer to the Lord and to each other, I pray that you also will find that your cups will be filled to overflowing so that you can in turn serve and bless others.

Resources you can use:

Countdown to Christmas {free printable} – This is a fun free printable that you can use to create a “Countdown to Christmas”.
The Christmas Cookie Plates Project
A Season for Giving
Christmas Cookie Plates Tips
Christmas Cookie Plates – Free Labels
Treasuring God in Our Traditions

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One Comment

  1. Love this! Our family does many of the same traditions! So grateful someone (most likely Sally Clarkson at Wholehearted Conferences) inspired me to be intentional with family traditions. I’m sharing this!

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