10 Traditions to Start with Your Family
It’s November, already! I blinked and Fall is nearly over. Soon to be replaced with colder weather and the most joyous time of the year: Christmas.
Christmas cookies. Time with family. Drinking hot chocolate. The race to finish your to-do list or find that perfect gift. With the planning and stress that surrounds the Christmas season, Thanksgiving can sometimes feel like an afterthought…
While the delicious food is always a treat, Thanksgiving is truly about so much more.
It’s about the lively conversation around the dinner table.
Sharing laughter and love with family and friends.
Recognizing our many blessings and taking time to be thankful for each one.
I love traditions, especially with a little one in our home. There is something so wonderful and comforting about traditions as a child. It’s never too late to add new or modify existing family traditions!
With that in mind, to help our family stay focused on what matters and to prepare our hearts for the Christmas season, we have a handful of traditions we will be implementing (or modifying) for Thanksgiving this year.
1. Gratitude Journal
We are going to start a Gratitude Journal for our family this year. Our journal will be a place for each person to write what they’re thankful for or special memories from the year. We’ll do our best to include a group family picture each year.
Not only will this keepsake journal be a great memory book to reflect on, it will also help us all take a moment to reflect on the many blessings that make our lives so rich!
2. Praise & Prayer Boards
I recently finished a very simple little diy project for our living room. Our Praise and Prayer boards are prominently hung in the living room and serve as the perfect daily reminder of the blessings in our lives and the hope and strength prayer offers during difficult times.
It’s so important to take time to appreciate and write down the awesome things in your day or week (the praises). Similarly, acknowledging the struggles (the prayers) opens the door for better communication among the family and allows others to pray for your struggles as well!
3. Family Photo
We are the worst with family photos. Our little one is 18 months old and we barely have a handful of pictures of the three of us. And zero family pictures with our sweet dog, Scamp. That is embarrassing.
So, starting this year, we are going to make family pictures a priority. And not just professionally-done-everyone-dressed-nicely-and-looking-put-together-pictures. Those are wonderful and always turn out beautiful, but in my home they aren’t real.
I’m talking the real messy hair, no makeup pictures. I think I put off taking pictures because I’m a stay at home mom and most days I have with messy hair (that may or may not consist 90% of dry shampoo…), no makeup and sweats. But that ends this year. Because sometimes those real pictures are the sweetest pictures. I want Elli to grow up comfortable and confident, regardless of what she’s wearing. Instilling that confidence in her starts with me. So, instead of jumping out of the picture, this year I’ll resolve to stay in it with my family.
4. Turkey Crafts
One of my favorite things about the holidays are the huge number of craft opportunities, for both kids and adults!
This year, we’re making the most of the crafting season and going to complete as many quick little crafts as time will allow! We plan to get the season started with an adorable Thanksgiving turkey color craft. Stay tuned for pictures and a complete tutorial!
5. Bake and Decorate Treats with Little Ones
Not much can beat all the delicious desserts around the holidays. Except maybe baking those desserts with little ones. While baking with little ones can bring its own set of challenges, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Elliana is still a bit too young to really help with the baking part, but she is an awesome little helper decorating with frosting and sprinkles! I can’t wait to make Thanksgiving sugar cookies (with hands down the best sugar cookie recipe I’ve ever used!) and enlist the sweetest little helper to decorate them with delicious frosting and lots of sprinkles!
6. Volunteer and/or Donate to those Less Fortunate
A list of Thanksgiving traditions would not be complete without mentioning the importance of serving others. While this is incredibly important all year round, Thanksgiving provides us the perfect opportunity to slow down, take time to count our blessings and help those less fortunate.
Taking time to serve others during the busy holiday season offers a great example for our little ones to observe and learn. Not only does it allow them to take ownership of such an important cause, it opens the door for an ever-important dialogue about serving others. Kids are sponges, they watch and absorb everything around them. This is a great way to ensure their hearts are being filled with love and kindness.
To get involved in your community, start with local food banks, churches and hospitals. A quick google search likely will yield plenty of ideas to get you started.
7. Turkey Trot
I used to complete a Turkey Trot every year, but it’s been quite some time since I last participated in one. This year, we’re going to complete a Turkey Trot together as a family. Not only will it be a great way to burn some calories before a big Thanksgiving meal later in the day, it will be a wonderful family time together!
There are lots of Turkey Trot races held all over the country. Most events have a walking and running portion. Take some time out and explore making this a new family tradition! Here is a great website that lists a huge amount of races. Is there one near you?
8. Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
Is there any better way to spend the morning than relaxing (while eating cinnamon rolls, yum!) and watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade? It’s literally the best.
And while many of you mama’s will be busy preparing the big meal or getting your family organized to travel later in the day, I encourage you to take a few minutes to watch the parade with your littles. We all know nothing beats seeing the magic and joy of the holidays through a child’s eyes. Enjoy the moments!
This year will be extra special for us because it will be Elliana’s first real experience watching the parade and she’ll likely be excited to recognize some of the balloon characters!
9. Relax and Watch Christmas Movies after Dinner
After a big delicious meal, we love to snuggle up and watch our first Christmas movies of the season. There is something so lovely and comforting about popping popcorn and snuggling up to watch a family Christmas movie.
Favorites in our home have always been Home Alone, Christmas Vacation and The Muppets Christmas Carol. (Though I do see this list changing to more kid friendly selections in the years to come. 🙂 )
10. Pick Out and Cut Down Christmas Tree
This is my favorite way to spend Black Friday. We forego the commercialized chaos for a family adventure trekking to cut down our own Christmas tree. This is usually the first weekend the Christmas tree farms are open. Getting the tree early allows us to enjoy it’s beauty just a few days longer.
My husband and I started this tradition when we first got married and have continued it since. I absolutely love it. And as much as he likes to joke and give me a hard time, I know he loves it too (plus, it makes him feel extra manly to cut a tree down).
Last year was such a joy to see Elliana’s face after the tree was put up and decorated. Complete awe at the lights and colors. This year, we can’t wait to have her help select a tree and decorate it with us!
I have to say, I loved Christmas as a child, but it truly is so much better as a parent. Nothing can replace the joy and excitement on a child’s face around the holidays. It really is the best.
Do you cut down your own Christmas tree? Interested in cutting your own (or buying a precut real tree)? This site offers a wonderful directory that’s sure to help you find a local tree farm!
So there you have it, 10 Thanksgiving traditions to start with your family today!
What did I miss? Do you have great holiday traditions? I’d love to hear them- share in the comments below!
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