One common suggestion for blended families during the holidays is to create new family traditions. That’s usually easier said than done, particularly when it comes to thinking of new traditions. Below are some suggestions that I’ve found for blended family traditions, including some that I wish I had known about years ago. On any of these, get the kids involved in making choices and figuring out logistics. Adapt the ideas to your particular family, and enjoy discovering what works for you.
Bond as a Family. Concentrate on traditions that encourage family projects and teamwork.
1. Spend a day baking cookies or other treats for your extended family, including your kids’ biological family.
2. Make lists of favorite holiday songs and create playlists to listen to during the holidays.
3. Watch a holiday movie once (or twice) a week or have a movie marathon, complete with cozy blankets and hot chocolate
4. Read a holiday book every night
5. Hide a special Christmas decoration (such as the “Christmas pickle”) and have the kids hunt for it
6. Create a “good memories” book — write down good things that happen and periodically read them together. This book might become a treasured heirloom for your kids.
7. Include foods from your child’s culture in the traditional meals. Ask your kids their favorite holiday foods and, if they don’t have a recipe, research and experiment.
8. Ask the kids which of their favorite traditions they want to incorporate into the family festivities.
9. Help the kids shop for their own special holiday ornament or decorations so they feel like they are represented in the family festivities.
Help Others. The holiday offer a good time to help your kids learn how to serve less fortunate people in their community.
10. Put together holiday supply packages for the local family shelter.
11. Create holiday cards for kids who are in the hospital.
12. Take baked treats to a hospital, police department, or fire station
13. Send a care package to military service members.
14. Shop as a family for your local food pantry
15. Serve a meal at a local shelter.
16. Help plan a holiday event for the kids at a family shelter or group home.
Acknowledge Loss. If you are in a child’s life because their parents or other caregivers have died, the holidays likely will be a particularly difficult time for them. Find activities to help them with the grieving process.
17. Create a lifebook for a foster child.
18. Create memory books for children who have lost family members.
19. Spend time talking about their memories and helping them process their feelings.
20. Help them gather materials for a journal or scrapbook for them to write down or create artwork about their memories.
Whatever ideas you come up with, be sure your children feel that they are an important part of the new family. Experiment to see what works and if one idea doesn’t work, try another. Just the process of working things out as a family will help build your relationships along with new traditions.