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10 Ways to Create Meaningful Holiday Traditions with New Baby

It’s the holiday season and your new baby just arrived, or will soon. Congratulations! Now you’re looking to create new family traditions as a new parent. Even though baby won’t remember these traditions yet, you can still start now so they become things you look forward to for years to come. You may already have holiday routines, but we all know that priorities and plans can shift when a new baby comes. So what can you do to make the holiday season special for years to come? Here are a few ideas.

Make homemade ornaments or decorations

From a “baby’s first Christmas” ornament with hand or foot prints to photo decorations to hang up, make a homemade ornament or decoration every year. Whether it’s the same type of ornament each year with a new photo or a whole different craft each holiday season, mark the year on it. You’ll be able to look back with fond memories on the passing years as your children get older and see how they change. Creating these ornaments or decorations will give them a great collection to start with once they’re grown and have their own home.

Take family photos

Whether you take official family photos each year or set up a camera to do them on your own, take pictures each year. Document what your family looks like and how they grow — both physically and in size, if you have more children later. Mamas are known for taking endless photos of their children — and rightly so! — but also oftentimes forget to jump in photos themselves. Getting family photos at this time of year ensures you’ll get at least one family photo throughout each year. You might be surprised with how much everyone can change in a year! To take this idea further, incorporate a fun theme. Are you a “holiday pajamas” family? Or do you enjoy wearing ugly sweaters and seeing who can find the “worst” one? Let your creativity shine!

Create your own kind of advent calendar

You’re probably familiar with the typical advent calendar that dishes out candy each day in the weeks leading up to Christmas. You may have even seen ones for dogs that reveal a new dog treat each day or adult themed ones that feature beer or wine. Take some time to create your own kind of advent calendar for your family to enjoy. Behind each day you can reveal a new movie to watch, a new book to read, or any kind of activity to do together. As your children get older, they’ll look forward to revealing and participating in that night’s activity.

Give back or volunteer

While we know the holiday season gets busy and your new baby will be too young to understand or know what’s happening the first few years, start the tradition of giving back or volunteering. This teaches the importance of selflessness when it can be easy to forget the real reason for the season. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or food shelf or shop for toys for the less fortunate. Another option is to have your children go through their current collection of toys and select one or two that are gently used and still in good condition, and donate them. This helps them learn the value of giving and appreciating what they have while preparing a place for new gifts they’ll get.

Stick to 4 different types of gifts

Set expectations and prepare your children as they get older for the number and types of gifts they’ll receive. A common way to do this is to give them four gifts, one each in the “want, need, wear, read” categories. They’ll get one item they need, one they want, one item of clothing to wear, and one book to read.

Take time to relax…

The holidays can be an extremely busy and stressful time. Making plans with family and friends, preparing meals, buying gifts — all on top of your busy schedule. Spend some time slowed down with your family and continue to keep yourself a priority, too, especially after new baby is here. Restock your inventory of new-mom essentials like nursing pads or nipple balm to help you ease the discomfort of breastfeeding, if that’s something you’re doing. Take that a step further by making time to refresh yourself with yoga, meditation and breathing exercises, or any other self-care activities else to help you ease stress. Practicing relaxation techniques like these can help lower blood pressure; improve digestion; improve focus, mood, and sleep quality; and more, according to Mayo Clinic.1 Make them family activities to help you all remember to slow down during the busy season.

…and reflect

As the year comes to a close, spend some time thinking about the past year. What has it brought you? A new baby, new job, raise at work? Get a holiday or end-of-year gratitude journal and add entries as a family each year. This will help you remember not only the highlights of the year, but also the emotions that went along with those events as you describe how they made you feel. Your children won’t be able to add to the journal right away, but as they get older, you’ll love seeing their toddler handwriting or youthful way of describing the experiences they went through.

Create a holiday memory book

With so many things shifting to a digital focus these days, create a physical memory book that you can add to each year. Include print-outs of those family photos you may have decided to do earlier — with or without the “holiday pajamas” — to have a place to look back on year to year. As your children get older, if they start writing letters to Santa, make copies of their letters as keepsakes. If anything of note happens that year, include it in the memory book. It will be a fun family keepsake to flip through each year as you look back on your growing family.

Visit holiday-themed events

From holiday lights shows or tours to parades to tree lightings, there seems to be an increasing number of community holiday events to partake in. Make one or two of these a tradition you stick to visiting each year as another way to build up holiday spirit.

Make New Year’s traditions

Some people like to host or attend gatherings with family and friends to celebrate the moment the clock strikes midnight on a new year, but if that’s not your style, choose something smaller for your family to enjoy each year. Do you like to play games? Have a family game night. Do you like to cook? Make it a night where everyone is responsible for one dish. With new baby or little children, they won’t actually be able to fully be in charge of a dish. But as they get older, they’ll be able to help take on more responsibility with each year — and eventually, helping take some of the burden off you! Even at a few years old they can help pour in or mix a few ingredients. This will help them feel a sense of accomplishment at “helping” make dinner. We know it’ll get a little messy, but we know as a new parent, possibly with several children, you already know how to embrace the chaos!

Creating new traditions will give you and your kids another thing to look forward to during the holiday season. What you do isn’t as important as the fact that you’re doing something together as a family to make special memories to enjoy for years down the road.



  1. Mayo Clinic. Relaxation techniques: Try these steps to reduce stress.

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