Do you dread spending the holiday with "just" your immediate family? Unfortunately, we're conditioned to think that truly meaningful holidays have to involve large family gatherings. However, small gatherings can be a lot more intimate, and can allow you to initiate some holiday traditions that just wouldn't be possible with a large group. If it's just you and your kids this year, try these holiday traditions for small families:
1. Let Everyone Be a Chef
Let each member of the family make part of the meal. Spend a little time the week before planning what you're going to have, and who will be responsible for each part. If you have a small kitchen, or if your kids are young, help them prepare their part of the meal the night before. Try these simple, kid-friendly holiday recipes:
2. Say ThanksSpend some time going around the table sharing what you are most thankful for. If you think your kids might not put much effort into sharing their thanks verbally, put a twist on this favorite holiday tradition by asking them to demonstrate or illustrate what they are most thankful for this year. (In fact, this might turn out to be your favorite holiday tradition, if your kids happen to catch you off guard by voicing just how thankful they are for you.)
3. Share Your Favorite Faith-Based Holiday TraditionsRead stories and passages related to the holiday you are celebrating. Alternatively, let your children put on their own play, demonstrating the real meaning of the holiday. They can work on this together while you prepare the meal.
4. Celebrate the Holiday With Crafts
Let your children decorate the dinner table, their rooms, or the outside of your home with holiday decorations. In addition, if you are celebrating Thanksgiving, spend some time together after dinner making homemade Christmas ornaments and decorations. Especially if you enjoy crafts, but don't usually have time to make them in December, this is an ideal family activity for Thanksgiving night. Try the following suggestions:
5. Take a Family WalkMake a family walk one of your regular holiday traditions. After enjoying the holiday meal together, let everyone pitch in on the clean-up, and then take a leisurely walk before dessert.
6. Watch a Holiday Classic
After dinner, spend some time watching a holiday classic together. Here are some of the top recommendations from Carey Bryson, our Guide to Kids' Movies & TV:
7. Play Games Together
Another favorite among after-dinner holiday traditions is playing games together. From playing a traditional game of charades, to playing your kids' favorite board games or video games, having fun together is a great way to spend the holiday. Here are some recommendations:
8. Get Out of the HousePlan to do something fun together after dinner. For example, go bowling, see a movie, or drive around town and check out the holiday decorations. Just for fun, you could even have your kids vote for the best ones.
9. Make a ListEvery season, it seems that there are so many things that we want to do, but never get to. Why not turn making a list into one of your regular holiday traditions? For example, after dinner on Thanksgiving, make a list of what you want to do before Christmas. Then, on Christmas, make a list for what to do over winter break or during the new year.
10. Reach Out to OthersFind a way to weave serving others into your holiday traditions. Go sing Christmas carols at a local nursing home, make cards for troops, or drop dessert off to a local women's shelter. This will not only teach your children valuable lessons about what's really important, but it will lift your spirits, as well.