traditions: Family Ideas 

Traditions make a house a home and a group of people a family. They distinguish your home from a hotel and your family from the one next door. Traditions are what makes your family special. 

Traditions are an integral part of family life. Think of them as your children's memories. When your child is grown and reflects back on the family, the traditions are what she'll remember. Count on it.

Here are a few ideas for traditions to consider for your family.

Host a Holiday Recipe Exchange

Instead of a holiday cookie exchange, invite friends to get together for a recipe exchange as a new family tradition for the holidays.

Set a theme: it could be fast meals for school nights. Holiday hors d'oeuvres. Holiday desserts. Then have a potluck party where everyone brings their favorite dish and copies of the recipe for all participants.

You go into the holidays (and the new year) armed with new menu ideas designed to make everyone's lives simpler and more delicious.

Create a Holiday Chore Tree

There's so much to do for the holidays that everyone needs to chip in. Here's a fun way of delegating tasks that doubles as new traditions family ideas:

Set aside a small artificial tree with no ornaments. Assign each family member a color ornament and tasks to help prepare for the holidays. As he or she accomplishes each task, she can hang one of her ornaments on the tree.

The first person to hang all his or her bulbs wins a special gift, surprise, outing - whatever is treasured in your family and is likely to be worth working a bit for, even for the youngest family members.

New Traditions Family Ideas: Have a Not-So-Silent Night

One night I had some friends over to help decorate our tree. In the middle of decorating, we noticed two of our girls - about eight years old at the time - curled up on the couch listening to a Christmas story on the radio.

In this visual TV age, we often forget how listening to stories spark the imagination.

With that in mind, designate one night this holiday season as a story night as a new family tradition. Make some hot chocolate. Then turn off the lights and sit by the fire and read aloud, tell stories, or just talk.

Near virtual silence can indeed be golden, especially during the holiday season. 

Traditions Family Ideas: Create Your Own Secret Charitable Santa

There are all sorts of ways you can help the less fortunate at Christmas. But kids need a face. Traditions family Ideas: Why not pick some family in your neighborhood, figure out something nice to buy or do for that family, and do it.

Leave it on the doorstep with an anonymous note. Kids love helping, and they love secrets. This new family tradition also helps reinforce the reason for the season,

Host a Christmas Craft Party

Early in the season, hold a craft party for your kids and their friends and families. Research three or four holiday crafts and gather all the materials.

Parents and kids will come, enjoy a little brunch and spend the afternoon making gifts for grandparents, teachers, etc.  

You can target the guest list toward a specific age group or just provide craft ideas and supplies for various ages. Note to Santa's helper: Smaller crafts will be better here. 

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