The holidays are a great time to start family traditions that you and your kids will look forward to year after year. But with the regular demands of the season (gift buying, baking, wrapping, decorating, social engagements), spending time with your family often gets pushed down (or completely omitted from) your best-intentioned to-do list. Don’t let the demands of the season overwhelm or overtake you. After all, the holidays are (or should be) all about your family.

TraditionIn between running from holiday activity to play to concert to party, carve out a little time to stay in. It’s nice to just relax, maybe light a fire, admire your decorations and rediscover your family room—and the people in it. To inspire you, here are some fun family tradition ideas that are sure to create memories and smiles for years to come.

Holiday Movie Marathon
Pick a day, keep your jammies on and watch your favorite Christmas specials or movies. Everyone can choose their favorite show and you can watch them back to back together. If you have any home movies of holidays past, this is the perfect time to watch.

Have Fun Giving Back
Teach your kids the importance of helping others. Help pack Christmas care packages for the troops. Buy gifts from the giving trees at our local libraries and YMCA for kids in need. Have a wrapping party where everyone in the family wraps their “giving” gift. Create cookie care packages for a local nursing home. Make birdseed “ornaments” with pine cones, peanut butter and birdseed to decorate trees outside and feed the birds in winter. You can do the same thing every year or take turns picking a new charitable activity.

Create a Neighborhood Decorating Contest, Progressive Dinner or Tree Looking
The holidays are all about family, but don’t forget to spend time with friends. Get all of your neighbors to decorate the outside of their house with snowmen (or another theme) each year. Then have a party and ask everyone to vote on who has the best themed decorations. Or have a progressive dinner where a group of friends go from house to house “tree looking” to admire everyone’s holiday decorations.

Holiday Globetrotting
Does your family like to learn about other cultures or dream of traveling the world? Why not pick a country each year and learn all about their holiday traditions? Have fun in the kitchen cooking a typical meal, play holiday-inspired games or make an ornament that reminds you of that country.

Bake Holiday Cookies
There is no better way to spend quality time with your family than in the kitchen cooking, eating and talking. Let everyone in the family pick the cookie recipe they want to try, and spend the day cooking them all. Invite grandma, aunts or friends to bring their favorite cookie recipe so you can experience some new treats. At the end of the fun baking session, everyone goes home with an assorted tray of homemade cookies. Don’t like cookies? Try a new holiday-inspired cake recipe each year instead.

Bedtime Stories
Some families love to read The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve with their kids. If there is a particular holiday story that you love, why not make it a tradition to read on Christmas Eve before the kids head to bed to dream of sugarplums. As the kids get older, they can take turns doing the annual reading.

Christmas Tree Fun
There are a lot of fun traditions you can create around the Christmas tree. First, make it a family event to go cut down a real tree. Make sure there is plenty of hot chocolate afterward. Host a tree decorating party for family and friends. Make an ornament every year with the kids, and don’t forget to date them. One night, turn off all the house lights except for the tree lights and spend time talking about your favorite holiday memories by the glow of the twinkly lights. Have someone videotape or audiotape this discussion every year so you have the memories to pass down for future generations.

I hope this inspired you to start some family traditions around the holidays that will be treasured every year—and help keep the stress of the season at bay.

Happy holidays!

Want more ideas for holiday-inspired family fun and traditions? Starting Dec. 1, read my series on 25 Days of Holiday Family Fun Ideas at my blog Also, make shopping easier this year and pick up some unique, family fun-inspired gifts at

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Sue Kirchner is the founder of The Chocolate Cake Club, an e-boutique, and the Chocolate Cake Moments blog, both designed to inspire and help busy families have more fun so they can have more “chocolate cake moments”—when they are smiling, relaxed and enjoying their family time. When Kirchner’s not working, she is CFO (chief fun officer) for her family.

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