The holidays are the time of year when you reflect on the past year and spend some extra quality time with each other.  Why not create a new family tradition to help you celebrate and bring your family closer?   The purpose of a tradition is to create family unity, not to put too much pressure on an already pressure-cooker time of year. Here are some simple ideas to get you inspired to create your own family tradition.

  1. Start an ornament collection – Pick up an ornament while on vacation or as a way to celebrate something that happened that year whether a marriage, graduation, or new baby. Every year you can look forward to unwrapping the ornaments and remembering why you bought them
  2. Drive around a local neighborhood to look at the decorations and lights. Put some holiday music on the radio and on the way home, vote on the best decorated house.
  3. Have each family member pick out their favorite holiday movie and once a week host movie night.  Pop some popcorn, make hot chocolate, and snuggle up in your pj’s.  
  4. Call or skype with faraway relatives to read a special holiday book, sing a carol, or even watch them unwrap some presents.  
  5. An oldie but goodie is to make cookies.   It is fun to work together to pick the recipes, mix the ingredients, and then hand them out to family, friends and neighbors. 
  6. Make something using your handprints.  They make great reindeer antlers or stacked together to make a tree. The kids will love it in years to come putting their hand over it to see how much they have grown.  If you are crafty you can do it at home.  If not then head to your local paint your own pottery place where they have lots of suggestions from plates, ornaments, and coffee mugs you can personalize.    These also make great grandparent gifts. 
  7. Cutting down your own tree.  There are numerous tree farms throughout NJ that let you wander the fields to find just the right one.  Then you actually use a saw and cut it down yourself.  Many tree farms also offer hayrides, sleigh rides, and other family-friendly activities.
  8. Then after trimming the tree together, why not camp out underneath it?  Try spending one night sleeping on the living room floor under the lighted tree, listening to holiday music. You can talk about Christmas, and all the fun events of the previous year.
  9. Celebrate the holidays by giving back.  During the days between Christmas and New Year’s while the kids are off from school and you have more time, make someone else’s holiday merry and bright. Ladle up food at a soup kitchen. Or surprise your mail carrier or elderly neighbor with an inexpensive yet meaningful gift, such as something homemade, a colorful coffee mug, or a cookie plate.
  10. Head out to one of the many holiday events this season to get you in the holiday spirit from the NY Botanical Garden Holiday Train show, or Holiday Lights Spectacular at the Turtle Back Zoo.