Creating Holiday Traditions That Last

I feel a little cheated by the Elf on the Shelf.  

This tiny North Pole transplant came around when my kids were too old to engage with him. While the Elf is the bane of many parent’s holiday, I find myself longing for a chance to tuck this sneaky little behavior moderator into silly places and surprising my kids with the whereabouts of Santa’s on-the-spot reporter.

But as much as I regret not getting to embrace the Elf himself in all his glory, for me he actually represents so much more. You see, as a mom of adult kids, the Elf isn’t just a fun activity that might help our young kids stay on the straight and narrow during the chaotic weeks leading up to Christmas. He represents all the great childhood memories that I can no longer create with my kids.

As much as I would love to claim the Elf on the Shelf was part of our past, that little guy didn’t get to join our family. While we did miss out on that, I feel like we did do a good job of establishing many routines that our family cherishes each year.

Over the years we have seen some of our traditions continue to be a priority for our family while others have fallen aside. How do you know what activities your family will continue to cherish for years to come? Here are my tips for ensuring your holiday events will stand the test of time:

  • Don’t choose activities that rely on any specific business or organization. Even the best of traditions will end if the place necessary to make it happen closes.  
  • Establish some traditions that are low key and simple. Especially in the hectic holiday season, even when we don’t consciously realize it, we all need some down time.  
  • Consider the personalities involved. If your people don’t like crowds, trying to create traditions that involve mass gatherings will be met with significant resistance.
  • Avoid overlapping events. Trying to pack too much in a short time usually makes for very little fun and a lot of stress.  
  • Don’t assume that just because your kids have gotten older, they won’t enjoy doing the things they cherished when they were younger.
  • Be honest about what traditions are really important to you and why. If there is an activity that you want to carry on, let everyone know.  
  • Recognize that it doesn’t have to be a big thing to be very special. Some of the most lasting family traditions seem like nothing to people who are not involved.

No matter what your family does, cherish the moments, and snap a few pictures. You never know, this may be the beginning of a longstanding tradition or maybe you will decide to never do it again. Either way, any time spent with family makes the holidays more special!

As our kids have gotten older, we have continued to add more great holiday traditions and activities that are perfect for this stage of our lives. But as we all know, we can’t turn back the clock. There are no do-overs when it comes to creating memorable holiday habits.

Denise Mersmann
Hi! I’m Denise; wife to Doug for 36 years, mom to Kate who lives in DC and works at NASA, Caroline who became our angel at four months old and Ryan who is a junior at KState majoring in Mechanical Engineering and Physics and two fantastic felines, Walter and Arthur. I love to take pictures, cook and bake, watch sports, dabble in most any type of crafting and hang out with my family. Mostly out of necessity, I have become fascinated with social media and have a false sense of pride that I am better at it than most people my age. I have a constantly changing bucket list, mostly revolving around things I can do with friends or family and that doesn’t require me to address my solid fear of heights!