The holiday season looks different this year for many families. After a long year of many cancellations, losing travel plans and large family gatherings this holiday season feels especially disappointing.
The pandemic has led families everywhere to rethink their holiday traditions. However, the holiday season itself is not cancelled. Rather, staying at home for the holiday presents a unique opportunity to connect with your teen and entire family by getting creative with new traditions.
When adjusting your plans to stay safe, here are our tips to make the December holidays special with new traditions at home.
1 - Remember many aspects of your holiday traditions are possible at home.
Many favorite holiday traditions can take place at home anyway. Focus on making the most of these traditions as a family. For example, holiday decorations, cooking and baking together, and holiday games can all take place as usual during a pandemic. Upholding these traditions will help regain a sense of normalcy in an otherwise different world this holiday season.
2 - Let your teens lead
Changes to the holiday season can be tough on teens that look forward to this time of year. However, counter this by letting your teens pick how to make up for it. Plan a night for each family member to choose a new tradition to try—encourage creativity as this could be anything from a craft, holiday movie, to a new recipe. Letting teens choose a tradition on their own shows you value their ideas and perspectives, and you will be able to connect while doing an activity that genuinely interests them
3 - Check in with family and friends virtually or snail-mail
Even if you cannot gather in person this year, connecting with family and friends is one of the most important holiday traditions. Beyond having a video call or playing virtual games with family members, you can create a new holiday tradition of creating a compilation of short video greetings from each member of your extended family! You can also go the traditional way and assemble small care packages for relatives you can’t see this year. Get your teens involved in picking what goes in the box, handwriting holiday cards, and sending off the package together!
3 - Spend time doing outdoor activities
Make trying a new outdoor activity or revisiting a favorite into a tradition. If you live in a cold and snowy climate, this could be sledding, skiing, or ice skating. These winter activities usually align with the holiday season in people’s minds. If you live in a warm climate, this could be hiking, going to the beach, or rock climbing. Meeting outdoors for an activity can be a good option if you plan on involving others outside your household, while socially distanced. Set an intention for this activity: this could be a lasting memory for your children of what they drew on for enjoyment with a pandemic, bringing family together, or learning something new. Expanding on an activity your family already enjoys doing can be a great way to start a tradition for years to come.
5 - Find ways to give back through service
Remind teens that giving is also an important part of the holiday season. This will help them focus less on what they are missing out on due to COVID cancellations, and more on caring about others. Ask your teen what causes they care about most, and together find an opportunity to serve this cause in a meaningful way. From monetary donations to a cause you care about, to socially distanced volunteering, reach out to community organizations to find ways for the entire family to make a generous difference.
Not seeing older relatives this holiday season is extremely disappointing for many families. When the time left with elderly family members is so precious, every missed opportunity feels like a loss. If this is the case for your family, talk about it! Leaving things unsaid can sometimes feel stifling; and a good conversation can channel this energy into finding creative ways to make the holidays special for these family members.
While it sometimes may not feel this way, teens are always looking at how parents react to situations and model their behavior. Creating a cozy, loving holiday season this year can start with you: focus on identifying opportunity rather than disappointment this holiday season. Who knows, you might even discover a new tradition that your family will enjoy for years of celebrating to come!