Just For Fun

Create Holiday Traditions

by Jessica Fisher

Roast turkey and cranberry sauce, the holly and the ivy, ice cubes and Christmas trees —these natural pairs arrive at holiday time. The first two fit the all-American image, but ice and Christmas trees? They are a family tradition at our house.

Years ago, my mother wanted us kids to help keep the tree watered, but without a spilled water mess. Ice cubes are easily picked up and melt in the tree stand. Mom found a creative way to include us in the festivities.

The holiday season is a great opportunity to renew family customs or to establish new ones that include the kids. Here are ideas to get you started.

Light-Looking. In many neighborhoods, Thanksgiving weekend begins the holiday light season. Ask friends ahead of time about the best displays in their area. MetroKids will list venues with holiday displays in the December issue.

Make a Family Greeting Card. One year when money was tight, I decided to use my stash of scrapbook supplies to make our Christmas cards with the family. We enjoyed it so much that we’ve continued to do it. The simpler your design, the easier it is for the kids to help. Create cards with simple cut-out paper shapes: a gingerbread man with a little ribbon glued around his neck, a circle for a tree ornament, or a black square of paper with three gold stars affixed.

Take an Annual Family Photo. It is amazing to line up pictures from years past and see how your family has grown. These photos make great gifts for grandparents.

Bake and Decorate Cookies. Kids love to bake cookies with their parents. Yes, there will be a mess, but having a good time together is more important than spilled flour. We keep a list of the cookies we make each year and include some old favorites as well as trying a new recipe or two.

Special Decorations. It is amazing how children remember décor they only see once a year. Incorporate things that represent a unique experience into your decorations. We’ve made tree trimmings from vacation souvenirs, such as the extra key from our vacation rental car. Each year it hangs from the tree on a plaid ribbon. Baby shoes, small pictures and toys make great ornaments.

Hold a Festive Feast. Nothing conjures fond memories more than the food. Repeating a recipe only occasionally makes it extra special. Ask each family member what he likes best and try to incorporate it into the menu. Set a fancy table and involve the kids in preparing for this out-of-the-ordinary moment.

Creating new family practices can create wonderful memories and provide laughs at the trial-and-error nature of doing something new. If you have toddlers in the house, you might just want to give the ice cube trick a try.

Jessica Fisher is a freelance writer.