A How-To Guide for Setting Your Own Holiday Traditions

Thinking back to my childhood, some of my favorite holidays were the low-key ones at home with our immediate family. My brother and I would wake up intensely early, tiptoe to the living room to take in the magic and wonder of Santa, “gently” wake our parents {thanks, Mom and Dad!}, open treasures, enjoy breakfast as a family, watch movies, and stay in pajamas all day. I remember these favorite days as warm, calm, and without anywhere to be at any certain time. 

There are also a handful of years I remember as chaotic, rushed, and with multiple places to go. While it was wonderful to see multiple family members that we may not otherwise see in one day, it was stressful. Being little kids, we didn’t have much to be stressed about, so I can only imagine the stress it brought upon my parents. We’d end the day back home, exhausted, and spend the next couple of days recuperating. 

holiday tradition, evergreensTo me, holiday celebrations fly by just as fast, or faster, than a wedding day or a big birthday party. Months are spent making preparations, selecting and wrapping gifts, planning a menu, cleaning, etc…. then the big day comes and it’s over in a flash. 

Setting the Tradition

When my husband and I had our first child last fall, we discussed what was important to us for holiday traditions. Christmas Eve is an important tradition for his family. My family has typically switched it up each year, so we didn’t have anything set in stone. It was, however, imperative that I see my family on Christmas Day. Though we love seeing our extended family members, we knew that hitting five houses over the course of 12 hours wasn’t for us. After a lot of discussions, we decided to spend Christmas Day at our house. The morning and early afternoon would be spent as an immediate family and we’d host dinner with parents, siblings, and their families in the late afternoon and evening. 

I was apprehensive about how this plan would be received, but everyone was understanding. The Christmas of our first year was relaxing, spent at home, and allowed us to really soak in the day. Although it had a different feel from years past, it showed me the positive benefits of setting your own holiday tradition:

It allows your family to slow down and soak in cherished moments together in a fast-paced world.  

It doesn’t stress the kids out. 

It doesn’t stress you out. 

It sets expectations for where you’ll be each year. 

No need to juggle, wiggle, or plan how to orchestrate each Christmas if it’s set in stone. 

A bonus has been that it has all worked out {so far} to where we’ve celebrated with our extended family on other days, so we still get to see everyone throughout the season. 

christmas artHere are some tips for setting your family’s own holiday tradition:

First and foremost, consider what’s important to your family.

Maybe that means hitting every house and seeing every family member possible. Maybe that means staying home and snuggling up in your pajamas all day as a family. Discuss important traditions with your partner and what you would like to forge in the future for your family. 

Communicate early about your plans. 

Removing the element of surprise regarding your plans will help set expectations, and hopefully, help prevent any hurt feelings. 

Focus on what matters. 

Try not to forget the true reason for this season. It can be easy to get stressed out about all of the ‘to-do’s’ and not truly experience all of the good things around us. 

Protect your peace.

Though some things are bound to happen {comments about your weight, parenting choices, and so on}, you have the power to protect your peace. If a relationship is toxic, you don’t have to engage. If someone says something offensive, it is okay to gently call that out versus sit there quietly. 

Don’t be afraid to switch it up. 

If what you decide doesn’t feel “right,” there’s nothing wrong with switching it up next year! What matters is that the tradition works for you and your family and allows you to soak in the season in the best way possible. 

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions? Share them with us!

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