Editor's note: This article was sponsored by Flyhomes.
Last year, families all over the country broke long-held holiday traditions in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. Dinners were skipped, cross-country flights were canceled, and visits were held on Zoom, or not at all. But amidst the grief and frustration, many began to consider holiday traditions in a new light. Family values were redefined, and new traditions formed — not based on the pomp and expectation that can oftentimes plague otherwise meaningful gatherings, but on answers to the question “What makes my family feel happy and connected?”
This year, as we test the waters of indoor gatherings once more, it seems pertinent to bring the lessons of the past year into a new era of family traditions. We’ve compiled a list of fun and meaningful new traditions to adopt this season. They’ll help you add some whimsy to the season, and introduce intentional compassion and connection into your annual holiday celebrations.
Compile a family cookbook
So much of the holiday season revolves around food. Whether you’re dining together or apart this year, you can share in the deliciousness and celebrate a true taste of togetherness by compiling a 2021 family cookbook filled with everyone’s favorite recipes. For more clever ideas for distanced traditions, go here.
Make a holiday ‘passport’
Bring multicultural and educational flair to your celebration by learning about holiday traditions in other countries. Have your kids craft mock passports to document your family’s “travels” as you explore other countries through food and culture. Explore other meaningful traditions here.
Craft a napkin ring for upcoming holiday dinners
We think this charming pony-bead napkin ring craft project from the Art Bar blog is a clever way to involve the kiddos in the process of setting the dinner table. Use the rings for many Thanksgivings and Christmases to come or make it a yearly tradition with new napkin rings each time. Want more Thanksgiving crafts? We can hook you up.
Bake a special breakfast
Holiday dinners might be the norm, but isn’t breakfast the most important meal of the day? Dazzle your family with a special holiday breakfast, such as overnight French toast from the Chef in Training! blog. Not only is it delicious and easy, this recipe is made ahead of time — which means more time spent bonding instead of cooking. Looking for more holiday breakfast inspiration? Try our list.
Delight in the holiday sparkle
If you haven’t put gazing at holiday lights on your family’s roster of fun traditions, well, why not? Pour cocoa into everyone’s thermoses and drive through a winter wonderland of sparkling lights. We’ve got a list of the best holiday light displays in Seattle.
Discover your new favorite cookie
Who doesn’t love holiday cookies? They’re yummy and they make great gifts. We can’t get enough of the easy melted snowman sugar cookies from the blog Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons. For something a little different, try the popcorn snowballs from the Life Made Simple blog. You’ll find these recipes and a whole bunch more here.
Write holiday tidings in a homemade card
Okay, holiday cards aren’t exactly a new tradition, but they’re a great way for families to reflect on the year and spread some cheer. Rather than defaulting to a fancy print run, try handwriting personalized tidings on a homemade card created by the kids. This tinfoil card from the scrumdilly-do! Blog is a cute craft for the occasion.
Make ornaments for loved ones
Need a sweet gift for the grandparents? We love this photo ornament craft from Martha Stewart we’ve included here. They’re simple to create but full of heart. Add to the collection every year by taking new photos and making new ornaments as an annual tradition.
Volunteering is a fabulous way to bring meaning and connection to the holidays while also giving back to the greater community. If you aren’t sure where to go or how to get started, try our list of opportunities for younger kids or our list of opportunities for teens. Find ways your whole family can help combat food insecurity in our communities.
Donate to a great cause
If in-person volunteering isn’t your thing, try donating instead. Every year, have your family decide on a new cause to support. This list will get you started.