My kids aren’t letting COVID-19 dull their holiday spirit. In fact, their excitement seems to be higher than ever! Whether it’s spotting the first lights in the neighborhood, getting a toy catalog in the mail, or pulling decorations out of the attic, they are ready for fun.
Since we’ll be skipping a lot of the crowded, public Christmas traditions this year, I’m focusing my energy on what makes the holidays special. Things like spending time together as a family, checking in on loved ones (even if it’s through FaceTime), helping others, and practicing gratitude. And while we’ll try to make the holidays as fun as possible, I want to have a healthy holiday, too!
The Importance of Family Traditions
When you reminisce about the holidays, do you think of an experience or a gift you received? For me, and I think for most, fond memories of family traditions are what come to mind.
And traditions don’t necessarily have to be grand or formal — in fact, some can be pretty silly. Of course, there are the more common ones like decorating together, watching a holiday movie, or attending religious services. But then there are also the quirky traditions that are just as special.
Growing up, my mom and I always decorated our Christmas tree to a Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers Christmas album — some of the cheesiest holiday music you can find, but 30 years later and those songs still bring a huge smile to my face.
How to Make the Holidays Less Food-Focused
Then there are also the hours spent baking and decorating cookies; dinners, cocktails, and desserts aplenty; and candy bowls at every turn, full of festive sweets.
Now that I have kids of my own, I’m working to incorporate some sugar-free traditions to make the holidays less food-focused. Here are some fun ideas I came up with:
- Get the kids decorating. If your kids are like mine, they love to help. Give them tasks to help decorate the house, inside and out. Short of sending them on the roof, even little kids can help hang wreaths, put lights on the shrubs, and dress the mantel with stockings and garland.
- Find a charity. As a team, pick a charity that means something to your family. It’s easy to get caught up in your shopping list and busy calendar, but having your whole crew come together for a good cause can be a great bonding experience and a new annual tradition. Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to go somewhere to serve — there are also ways to help from home, like adopting a family for the holiday.
- Take your activities outside. In Philadelphia, we may not think of winter as an ideal time to head outdoors, but there is plenty of fun to be had if you’re willing to bundle up. Remember these tips for exercising outdoors when it’s chilly. You can take a family hike or go sledding or skiing.
- Go for a walk. After a holiday meal with your family, make it a tradition for everyone to take a stroll together. A 15-minute walk after a meal is great way to get some fresh air and help your body digest your dinner. Or, rather than driving around to see Christmas lights, walk through your neighborhood instead. Any time you can add steps in your day, you’re heading in the right direction.
- Do crafts instead of baking. I’m not saying don’t bake — I could never! But if you typically bake enough to feed an army, maybe you swap some of your time and energy for holiday crafts instead. The bonus? Your crafts will be more than a holiday tradition — they can double as gifts and decorations that you can use year after year. This year, my mom and I have been making homemade bath bombs and scrubs since we figured 2020 has given everyone a lot of reasons to make time for a little relaxation.
- Sign up for a holiday fun run. Around the holidays, so many towns host festive fun runs or walks. While this year is a little different, there are still some virtual runs you can sign up for and complete with your family. You can help each other train before the race as a fun group activity. Since it’s common for people to gain a couple of pounds during the holidays, it’s a great time to have a reason to get moving!
Cheers to new, healthy traditions and a happy holiday!