Traditions create special bonds and memories for families. More than any other time of year, the holidays seem to be filled with traditions both old and new. Some traditions seem to emerge organically, while others are carefully planned. Either way, creating and honoring traditions with your family will generate excitement and add meaning to your time together. Each year, I try to think of ways to more intentionally celebrate the season with my children. By this, I mean doing something fun or meaningful together that does not involve gifts. Through this process I have found that my children enjoy the satisfaction they receive from our traditions just as much as they enjoy unwrapping their presents. Consider adding one of our family's top 5 traditions to your holiday season this year.

Scavenger Hunt

My kids love decoding and following clues that lead them all around the house. (Also, this gives them a chance to work together when they are trying to solve the clues.) At the end of their journey, they find a small treat (a book, cookie or sticker set) which they refer to as "treasure." The hunt does not need to be elaborate to be fun. You only need 6 clues or so to build the suspense. I like to hand them their first clue when they step off the bus and watch them run into the house at top speed!

Sneaky Elf

This is our name for doing random acts of kindness. The point is to not be seen or receive recognition for your kind deed. Brainstorm with you kids for ideas of what will work in your community. Here are a few ideas to get your juices flowing.

  • Take a meal or some snacks to your local fire station with a thank you note to the fire fighters.
  • Roll the neighbor's trash cans up the driveway on garbage day.
  • Leave a small surprise on a friend's doorstep.
  • Drop a few bags of groceries off at a food drive.

Once you get started, it can be addicting! The kids really get into the spirit.

Adopt a Family

Each year, many organizations have lists of needs and wants from families who are financially struggling. If you are able, consider "adopting" one of these families and fulfilling what you can of their list. Allowing the kids to shop for these families helps them to see how they are connected to others in their community. It shows them that if they see a need they can fill, they should step in and help out.

Movie Marathon

Give in to one of those cold, gray winter days and cozy up on the couch for a day of your favorite movies. Don't even bother putting on real clothes - movie marathons are best when in jammies!

Light Drive

Speaking of jammies... keep them on for a drive around town to check out the lights! After a day on the couch, a change of scenery is a welcome occurrence. Grab some popcorn and hot chocolate and crank up the Christmas jams while you cruise around hunting down the best decorations in town.

The traditions we create with our kids today, will provide them with memories for years to come.