How to Create Holiday Traditions Around Family Meals


It’s easy to put so much pressure on ourselves as parents, especially during the holidays. We want to do everything we can to make memorable moments with our kids, even it involves spending more money than we might have or going out of our way to create a novel experience.

In the hustle and bustle of the season, the simple things that matter most tend to get glossed over. But if we’re being honest with ourselves, what are the memories we want to help create for our children?

The things I remember about the holidays as a kid were not the toys I got on Christmas morning or the presents we’d get from relatives near and far.

Cherishing Childhood Memories During the Holidays

The best childhood memories I have around the holidays usually involved food and family. I loved listening to everyone express their gratitudes around the holiday dinner table and baking homemade gingerbread cookies with my parents. My mom would always make us hot cocoa with a mugful of melted marshmallows after searching for Christmas lights and playing monopoly.

These were the simple things that were most memorable to me - things I want to recreate for my own kids now. Because at the end of the day, it’s time spent together that builds the strongest foundations for families, no matter the circumstances.

So if the budget was a little leaner this year and you couldn’t splurge on gifts or if you’re just feeling overwhelmed about doing ALL the holiday things, take a step back. Don’t forget to see the forest through the trees and bring it back to basics. The best moments and memories can simply be created around your family table.

Building New Traditions Around Your Family Meal

Here are some easy ways to create holiday traditions around family meals in your home (and no fancy food required!):

Holiday Movie Reenactments: Have a dinner reenactment of your favorite holiday movie, like the Nutcracker or Frosty the Snowman. Assign each family member to a character from the movie and dress the part or include foods that may have been part of the movie. Don’t forget to watch the movie together after your meal!

Pretend Holiday Restaurant: Let the kids serve you in their “holiday” restaurant: Put the kids in charge of the menu and in creating a holiday restaurant, where they can serve you food. I guarantee this is one your kids will never forget! Help them plan the menu ahead of time and let them decorate the house/kitchen.

Pizza Parlor Night: Turn your kitchen into a pizza parlor for a night. Put out the toppings and let everyone create their own individual pizzas.

Indoor Family Picnic: The weather outside might be frightful, but inside can be so delightful with a family meal picnic style. Serve your meal family style and sit together on a blanket set on the ground. You can make it more festive by sitting next to the fire place while watching your favorite holiday movie.

Visit New Countries/Cultures: What special foods do other cultures eat for their holiday meals? Pick a country with your kids and do some research on the different foods that might be prepared and eaten during the holiday season. If possible, create a holiday dinner theme around this country/cultural and offer their traditional holiday foods.

These are just a few ideas to help you brainstorm fun ways to recreate the family meal during the holiday season. Gathering around a meal with loved ones may very well be the most memorable moments your child cherishes for years to come.

What are your favorite holiday traditions that you enjoy with your family?