Home and Family     Family Fun     Parties     Party Guide     PlacesTo Go Guide    

Holiday traditions to start right now

40 ways to start your own family memories

The holiday season, and in fact, any season, gives us plenty of opportunities to kick off a new tradition. By doing something that creates and rekindles memories year after year, you are building a family custom. Looking to try something new this year? Consider these ideas to freshen up the holidays in your family. Be of service:

1. Play board games with residents at the senior center

2. Prepare a meal for the families at your local Ronald McDonald House

3. Write cards for Operation Christmas Cheer

4. Stock shelves at the local food pantry

5. Make a double batch of tonight’s dinner and share it with a friend.

6. Prepare bagged lunches at the homeless shelter

7. Make no-sew blankets for hospitals or nursing homes.

8. Start a book drive in your area and donate the books to local shelters and children’s hospitals

9. Make an Advent calendar that includes a random act of kindness to carry out each day.

10. Go caroling with friends and take up a collection for your favorite charity.

 READ MORE: Easy winter crafts to make with the kids!

Learn something new:

11. Attend a holiday service at a different place of worship.

12. Research holiday traditions from your ethnic background and add one to your current day celebration.

13. Read a different holiday story each night — find a mix of old favorites and new reads.

14. Sit down with the family to discuss their New Year’s resolutions.

15. Try a traditional holiday recipe from a different country every year.


Take a trip down Memory Lane:

16. Start a holiday journal. Encourage everyone to write down their holiday memories from this year and add new pages next year.

17. Call the friends on your holiday card list with whom you have lost touch.

18. Watch home movies of past holiday celebrations.

19. Take a family picture in the same spot every year and add the picture to an album that you display during the holidays.

20. Buy a white table cloth that you can write on. Write messages or draw pictures each year to create a wonderful keepsake.


Make something together:

21. Build a Gingerbread house — from scratch or from a kit.

22. Create a homemade gift for someone each year.

23. Design a Christmas time capsule to be put away in your holiday boxes.

24. Make an outdoor Christmas tree for the birds by stringing popcorn, dried fruit and bread or add bird seed ornaments made with seed, nuts and gelatin.

25. Bake cookies, make candy or put together Gifts in a Jar to share with your neighbors.

 READ MORE: Start a NEW holiday tradition

Holiday purchases:

26. Purchase a new ornament each year for each child representing something about him that year or buy an ornament from each vacation spot and add that to your collection.

27. Give your family the gift of pajamas to be opened on Christmas Eve.

28. Buy a new board game to add to your arsenal for family game night.

29. Start a collection of holiday decorations like snowmen, snow globes or illuminated houses and add to it each year.

30. Get a new holiday DVD every year and watch your collection grow.

READ MORE: Great cold-weather hiking spots

Have some fun:

31. Host an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party

32. Purchase an Elf on a Shelf and set him up in different situations each night.

33. Plan a couple of evenings to watch holiday movies together. Add it to the calendar so everyone can look forward to it.

34. Leave out shoes for St. Nicholas Day

35. Play holiday decoration bingo as you drive around and mark off things like a blow up snowman, a house with all red lights or a menorah in the window.

36. Host a cookie exchange

37. Re-gift the same gift over and over and see who ends up with it this year.

38. Have a Christmas Carol Karaoke Night

39. Host a holiday-themed Favorite Things Party

40. Play holiday versions of games like Scattergories, Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary or Minute to Win It.

Pam Molnar is a freelance writer and mother of two teens and a tween. Her family hopes to add a few of these traditions to their holiday celebration this year.