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Korin Miller

12 Fun Holiday Traditions For The Whole Family

Looking to start a new ritual with your little ones? Whether you celebrate Kwanzaa, Hanukkah or Christmas, you’ve come to the right place. (Raucous New Year’s Eve ideas included.)

The holidays are not just about opening presents—it’s about family traditions that make this time of year even more special. Establishing annual customs with your kids creates an experience that’s special to your household and provides an opportunity to bond. Ready to start celebrating? Here are a few fun ways to expand your family’s holiday repertoire.

Kwanzaa

Opt for a felt kinara. A real kinara isn’t exactly kid-friendly, so let little ones get in on the action with this soft, pint-sized version that lets them mark the seven days. You can craft your own or purchase one—like this lovely version from KidInMeCreations.
Buy it: Etsy.com, $8

Break out a special cootie catcher. A colorful Kwanzaa cootie catcher is a fun way to celebrate your child while also reminding him about the spirit of Kwanzaa year after year. Check out this one from DesignsByTenisha on Etsy.

Wrap your gifts in mudcloth paper. Try this idea from Mocha Mommy in the City: Keep your kids in suspense and do all your gift-wrapping in one swoop with pretty mudcloth paper. “My daughter would get one homemade gift for each of the seven days,” says Nia Lawrence, the blog’s founder. Once wrapped, they made for festive (and tantalizing) display pieces on the coffee table. We were particularly smitten by this design.

Hanukkah

Deliver your gifts in Hanukkah pockets. It’s like a Christmas stocking, but for Hanukkah! These handy little slots can hold a small gift to celebrate each night of the holiday. Bonus: It also works wonderfully as holiday decor.
Buy it: Etsy.com, $60

Make a handprint menorah. When your children are too young to light the menorah, help them craft their own every season. (And see how they grow as time goes on too). Here’s a particularly nifty variation from AlphaMom.com. You’ll need: cardstock paper, craft paint, a paint brush, paper plate, yellow or orange fuzzy pom poms, craft foam stickers, a hole punch and ribbon. To make: Paint your children’s hands blue and place them on the paper. This creates the base of the menorah. Then glue the pom poms on top of each finger to make candles, and use craft foam stickers to spell out “Hanukkah.” Decorate with more stickers if you like, punch holes on top and hang up with the yellow ribbon.

Give to charity as a family. Use the last night of Hanukkah to talk as a family about where you’d like to donate in the coming year, whether it’s helping out at a nearby soup kitchen or contributing money to a local school or national non-profit. Encourage children to think about what they’d like to do in advance, so they can come with their own ideas. (A shout out to Kveller.com for this brilliant idea.)

Christmas

See the lights in a new way. You’re in a heated car anyway, so why not give your kids permission to wear their PJs as you drive around to take in the prettiest lights in the neighborhood? Break out the cookies and spill-proof mugs of hot chocolate. Crank up your Christmas carol playlist. It’s a Christmas party on wheels! (Thanks to The Imagination Tree for the inspiration.)

Send a personal card from baby. The grandparents will love receiving these cute reindeer cards with baby’s little footprint, courtesy of Emma Owl. The best part? Watching baby grow over the next two or three years. You’ll need: cardstock paper, paint, a paint brush, marker, googly eyes and red pom poms. To make: Paint your child’s foot and stamp it onto the card stock. When the footprint is dry, draw on two antlers. Glue on googly eyes and top off with a pom pom nose.

Serve up Strawberry Santas. It takes energy to unwrap all those gifts! But if your little elves never want to slow down for a sit-down breakfast on Christmas morning, serve up these bright treats, courtesy of Smart School House. They’re a cinch to whip up. You’ll need: strawberries (washed and trimmed), vanilla frosting, a piping bag and black icing gel. To make: Slice off the pointy ends of the berries and put both pieces on a paper towel to soak up some of the juices. With the piping bag, swirl on frosting to make the beard and the hat’s pom pom. Then add black gel for the eyes. Voila! Something kids can pop in their mouths as they get on with business.

Photo: Purestock/Getty Images

New Year’s Eve

Mark your memories. Here’s another idea we love from The Imagination Tree: Have each family member talk about their most notable memories from the past year. Write them down on a card and tuck them away in a special box so you can share them again in the future.

DIY a countdown ball. Your kids may not be able to stay up to see the ball drop, but they’ll love creating their own version of the iconic New Year’s symbol, year after year. Check out the spectacular version crafted by the talented folks at JDaniel4sMom.com, then design your own. You’ll need: sparkly stickers, a paper plate, and a piece of paper. To make: cut a piece of paper into a long strip and write the numbers one through 12 on it. Then, cut two slits in the middle of your paper plate and thread the piece of paper through the plate. Decorate your plate with the stickers and let your child practice counting down to the New Year.

Make your own noisemakers. Your munchkins will delight in the knowledge that once a year even grown-ups enjoy getting a little wild ‘n’ crazy. So why not sit down on the last weekend of every year to craft a bunch of noise makers together? We especially love these celebratory jingle bells from i heart naptime. You’ll need: craft sticks, paint, paint brushes, ribbon, bells and stickers. To make: First, paint the stick. Then, string ribbon through the bells and tie it tightly over your stick. Use scissors to curl the string. Attach as many bells as you’d like—and you’re all ready to ring in the New Year!

Published October 2017

PHOTO: Amanda Worall