Traditions are key to keeping families close, especially during the holidays. Parent & Child magazine is offering up some fantastic ways to get your kids talking about what really matters at this time of year.
As Parent & Child‘s December/January cover girl, Brooke Shields is opening up about her family’s Christmas traditions that keep her family of screenwriter husband Chris Henchy, and their two daughters, Rowan, 8, and Grier, 5, close.
Citing daily family meals sans cell phones as the family’s main face time, Shields says her daughters actually crave discipline and routine–even chores! “We have house rules, like making their own beds every day and putting their dirty clothes in the hamper,” she tells the magazine. “It creates a sense of structure, and they actually really like it.”
Meg Cox, author of “The Book of New Family Traditions: How to Create Great Rituals for Holidays & Everydays,” believes those rituals and traditions are heightened during the holiday season. “If you’re like a lot of people,” she says, “the whole history of your family is hanging on your Christmas tree every year.”
To take advantage of this special time of year and the opportunities for family bonding, here are great holiday traditions to get your own family talking.
1. Read all about it! Give your kids a different book on your family’s holiday tradition–Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa–over the course of a few nights leading up to the big event. Have them open them at the dinner table so you can discuss them together. The themes of the book can help echo and promote your own family’s values.
2. Make your own memory books. Help kids reminisce over holidays past with homemade photo and memory books. With the help of companies like Snapfish, your special books will last for years to come. Maybe this year the kids can help write the new one!
3. Painting ornaments. Shields grew up painting ornaments with her mother each Christmas. Now, she and Henchy get to celebrate that tradition with their own daughters.
4. Tree of stories. Each night before bed, turn off the lights, look at your beautiful, twinkling Christmas tree, and tell the story of how you came to have one of the ornaments and what each means to you. Snuggling is a must here!
5. A card a day. Wait to open holiday cards until dinner time. Let the kids take turns opening and reading them aloud. You can then talk about how you met the person who sent the card and how much the sender means to you.
6. Let them help. You make the big meal, so why not have the rest of the family set and decorate the table? It will help everyone feel a part of it–until they’re old enough to get in the kitchen and help!
7. Pay it forward.Give your kids a craft kit as an early present. They can use it to make presents and ornaments for friends and family–a tradition that will definitely remind them that this is really a season of giving.