How to Reduce Family Holiday Stress and Establish Your Own Family Traditions

This is a guest post from our friend, Allison McCreary.  Allison shares how she and her husband, Grant have established meaningful, new family traditions in their own home.

It happens to most parents: trying to find a balance between each person’s family traditions and establishing new traditions as a family with young children. We often get caught up in the “major” traditions asking whether to open presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, do we serve the full menu for Thanksgiving Day, and where to celebrate key holidays?

Grant and I are still trying to figure out how to balance our childhood memories of holidays, family obligations and traditions and our goal of setting new traditions in our family.   Recently, I’ve realized that I can take some stress out by focusing on the other 360+ days a year to create new traditions and memories for Cecelia and Carter to carry with them as they grow.

Here are two new traditions we’ve started in our family and lessons learned as a family that will help us create more.

Allison McCreary and children Cecelia and Carter enjoy Saturday morning tradition.

Allison McCreary and children Cecelia and Carter enjoy a new Saturday morning tradition.


Pancakes and Library Saturday Mornings

Cecelia pushes her chair up next to me, helps “click” the eggs into the batter, mixes with me, pours and flips. Carter has started pushing up his own chair, and is disappointed that he isn’t allowed to work the griddle just yet. After the first few are done, my helpers settle in to their seats at the table and begin to enjoy the fruits of their labors.

Plates clean and bellies full, we load into the car with our books. We make the short drive to the library, where Cecelia and Carter enjoy putting the books into the return chute. After selecting our newest titles, we check out and return home or continue with whatever errands Saturday might hold. Saturday nights are especially fun, as each child selects a book from the morning’s excursion for story time.

Grant McCreary, Carter and Cecilia at the library on Saturday morning

Grant McCreary, Carter and Cecelia at the library on Saturday morning

Bedtime Story Time

Our bedtime routines have evolved and grown with our kids as well. We listen to a few Bible songs as a family, read a couple of stories, brush teeth, put on jammies, and read a Bible story or two before we split up for prayer time and tucking in.

We enjoy creating new memories and traditions with our family and have learned that it is not what we do once or twice a year that makes the most significant impact.  It is not the complicated, stressful holiday season.

It is investing daily and weekly time in our family to give comfort and security to our precious little people, living life with intention and purpose and devoting time and attention to one another.   These don’t have to be grand, elaborate, or extravagant gestures — just filled with love.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21)

Question: How have you handled the challenge of balancing holiday traditions with extended families?  Have you created new family traditions in your home? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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