Christmas traditions through the generations: Getting your kids involved


25 November 2020
Would you like to get the children in your life involved in the festive traditions that you and your family have passed down over the years? Lily Harris shares her ideas for making this a Christmas to remember.

Every family has their own Christmas traditions. Whether it’s going out together to pick a tree on 1 December, or jumping into a frozen lake together on Christmas morning; however weird or wonderful your family’s traditions are, they are important and deserve to be preserved for posterity.

However, with children becoming more and more absorbed by social media and a virtual lifestyle, it can be tough to get them interested in engaging with family in this way.  If you want to ensure that your traditions continue to be passed down through the generations, here are some ideas that should help. 

Tell them your memories

Children are always learning, and there will be many things that they don’t yet know about you. They are also unlikely to be able to anticipate, without being taught it explicitly, why something like a family tradition might be important to you. Taking the time to sit down with them and tell them about your happy memories of Christmas when you were a child will help them to understand why they should get involved with the family Christmas traditions too.

Make this chat a wonderful experience in itself by choosing a time to do it when they would be happy to hear a story, like when you are out for a walk or when they are tucked up in bed. For extra brownie points, you could even talk to them about this while taking special time out of your day to do something they love with them, like baking or playing football. 

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Add new traditions 

If you want to pass down the family traditions, you have to be willing to create new traditions too. Creating new customs, which are overtly fun and appealing to the younger generations, will certainly help to get them on board with the other traditions you have planned. There are plenty of things you can do which could actually even create new fun traditions which children will love: like the last family members to arrive have to sit on the little chairs at the end of the table; or that you all stay up late on Christmas Eve, sharing Christmas stories.

Young people nowadays love sleepovers, but just make sure that no one is you uncomfortable while doing it as this could create a negative impression of the experience. Instead of a blow-up mattress on the floor, try using a trundle-bed for extra comfort since, according to Little Lucy Willow, they make for ‘fantastic sleepovers and countless memories’. A new idea like this would definitely help to get your children on board with experiencing more of your family’s Christmas traditions. 

Create temporary alternatives

We know that, this year, it’s not clear yet about what Christmas will look like and to what extent families will be able to gather, but ensuring that the extended family does keep in touch whatever way you can will be helpful for preserving your family customs at Christmas time.

This year, while it is difficult to meet in person, try organising Christmas online instead. Perhaps you can get your children involved in thinking up ways in which you could make the family traditions accessible virtually. These are, after all, the tech-generations and this could be a great way to give them a sense of ownership over and greater involvement with the family traditions. For example, you could ask them to figure out the best app to use for a virtual Christmas dinner. Wired have a good list of video apps which you could use to give them a hint for where to start).

Start again

No matter how you choose to approach engaging the younger generations of your family in your Christmas traditions this year, the key things to remember is that traditions should be fun and help to create positive memories. If the traditions are no longer enjoyable, perhaps consider asking yourself why they are important to you and why they are important for the family.

If you can come up with a good enough reason, and feel that you can explain that adequately to the children, then great. Otherwise, do consider if they need to be kept on. If they no longer seem relevant or beneficial to your family, maybe consider simply getting the children involved with coming up with their own new traditions. Whatever happens though, don’t do-away with the traditions altogether. After all, as the Telegraph suggests ‘Some are sweet, some are silly, but they’re the things that define the season – Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without its traditions’. 


Little Lucy Willow

Wired video apps

The Telegraph on family traditions