Tag Archives: family

Parent & Child magazine's December 2011-January 2012 issue

7 Holiday Traditions to Get Your Family Talking About What Matters

Parent & Child magazine's December 2011-January 2012 issue

Parent & Child magazine's December 2011-January 2012 issue

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.

Making Christmas card

How to Take Great Holiday Family Photos

‘Tis the season for taking family photos for Christmas cards. Parenting School Years magazine offers four tips for snapping the best pictures of your crew this holiday season.

Chances are you’ve got plenty of holiday photo postcards of friends and family peppering your refrigerator–or you soon will. With Christmas just less than a month away, families will be striking poses in the hopes of getting that perfect picture to grace their holiday card.

More and more, families are opting for natural settings and incorporating their personalities, sending that super-posed photo to the wayside.

Parenting School Years magazine cornered some professional photographers, who offered advice like abandoning the pose–and more–for help on how to score the ultimate family photo. Here’s what they have to say.

1. Say no to the pose. Posed family photos are awkward and impossible to make happen anyway. The trend now is to go with unposed shots. Says Charleston, S.C., photojournalist Joshua Drake, “Candids let you capture those intimate, honest moments that happen in everyday life that best reflect your child’s mood and personality.”

2. Keep them in their native environment. If you want the kids to look relaxed and happy, then it might be better to photograph them in their natural habitat–amongst all their toys. “Kids feel most comfortable on their own couch or on their playroom floor,” says Carmel Zucker, a photojournalist from Boulder, Colo. And nothing gets them more delighted or animated than a favorite toy–I know, a blow to the ego for sure.

3. READY, set, click! Just last night I was wishing I’d had my camera nearby to capture my twin girls holding hands and singing. Of course, the minute I move for the camera, they follow me. “You should always have a camera sitting around the house that’s ready to go,” Zucker says. And out of reach of sticky fingers.

4. Snap away! Brent Clark, an award-winning photojournalist based in Raleigh, N.C., confides, “Small facial movements can make or break a photo.” What about redundancy? Clark suggests moving around the room to get different angles, even “lying on the ground or standing on a chair.”

Perhaps the best advice is to let go of so many ridiculous expectations for the perfect family photo. Aside from hiring a professional photographer and paying a fortune, it just might not exist. Besides, the best photographs help us remember special moments and phases of life–none of which will be, “Remember that awesome day we spent taking a family portrait?”

Tell us. What’s your secret for capturing the best family photos?