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Family Life

Start a New Holiday Tradition!


Parties and gift-giving are fun, but what makes the holiday season magical is the time we spend with loved ones.

We asked our Facebook Group, College Parent Insiders, to share some of their favorite holiday traditions. Check out these ideas and start a new tradition with your family this year!

1. Take Your Holiday Light Tour to the Next Level

It’s always magical to go for an evening drive or walk to enjoy the sparkle of holiday lights in your neighborhood. This year, how about making it more of an adventure by doing a quick Internet search on “best holiday light displays” for a nearby town — or even across the state line? 

There may also be a holiday lights show at a botanical garden or zoo nearby. For example, Denver’s Botanic Gardens and the Denver Zoo each have an annual light show that many families have been going to for years.

2. No-Bake Gingerbread Houses

“We make gingerbread houses from graham crackers. Been doing it since the kids were little. All items must be edible and glue (icing) is made from powdered sugar and a drop of water. I buy all different kinds of candies and sprinkles for decorating the finished houses. It’s morphed into a competition now about who’s house is the best! My children are now 17, 21, 23 and 29 and still look forward to doing it every year and it now includes a grandson as well.”

– Maryann

3. Treasure Hunt Under the Tree

“After all of the gifts are opened on Christmas morning, I hand my kids an envelope with a poem in it with clues. I usually have somewhere between 6 and 10 places in our house and each one has a poem with a clue to the next one. At the end, there is a family gift. Obviously, it changes every year but it ranges from a game to a big family trip. It's time-consuming planning it but fun to watch! It makes the kids work together which is always rewarding to see as a parent. I could see this continuing with grandkids someday!” 

– Eileen

4. Share the Bounty of Your Kitchen with Others

“We prepare food for Attention Homes in Boulder where teens and young adults will be spending the holidays without a family. They have a Sign-Up Genius and my kids feel good about cooking for other young adults.”

– Annette

5. Join the Christmas Bird Count

You don’t have to be a professional bird watcher to be part of the Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count, scheduled this year from December 14 through January 5. Because of the pandemic, activities in some areas may be restricted, but many counting circles are active and accepting new participants. 

If nothing else, look at the website to learn more about the count and conduct your own unofficial study of the birds that winter in your neighborhood and in parks and open space nearby. It's a great excuse to spend time outdoors having fun with your family. Winter is “the hooting season” for Great Horned Owls — if you walk at dawn or dusk you might see and hear one or two!

6. Photo of the Year Show

Have everyone in your family choose the favorite photo they took this year and make a slideshow to watch together. Each person should be ready to say something about why they picked this photo as their favorite. 

This is an activity that could be opened up to far-away relatives, too, and shared over Zoom! 

– The Green/Epstein family

Related activity: Have each family member send their best photos from their phone or camera. Dump them all into a collection and then vote on which ones should go into an official 2021 Family Photobook.

– The Lochhead family

7. Celebrate the Traditional 12 Days of Christmas

“We spread out the gift giving to truly celebrate the 12 days of Christmas. The first day of Christmas being December 26 and the 12th day on January 6, the epiphany. We do a king cake on the 6th and little things sprinkled throughout the 12 days.”

– Barbara

8. Holiday Family Olympics

Set aside a day to get competitive with your loved ones! Divide the family into teams and set up different competitions from candy cane relay races to present stacking. First, have everyone submit an idea for a game or sit down as a family to plan out the whole competition!

Play some of your favorite holiday tunes throughout (or incorporate the music into the games; musical chairs anyone?). Make sure to come up with a prize for the winning team that everyone’s sure to want or penalize the losing team by putting them on cleanup duty after your holiday feast!

Check out the Presley family's viral Quarantine Olympics for some fun (if a bit unconventional) ideas for games!

Thank you to everyone in our Facebook Group who contributed to this list. We hope you enjoy some of these new traditions — and have a wonderful holiday season.

Find our Facebook Group below — we'd love to get to know you better!

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