10 Holiday Traditions for Small Families

Make a Small Gathering Special With These Holiday Traditions

Do you dread spending the holiday with "just" your immediate family? We've been conditioned to think that truly meaningful holidays have to involve large family gatherings. However, small get-togethers can be a lot more intimate and can allow you to initiate some holiday traditions that just wouldn't be possible with a large group. If it's just you and your kids this year, try these holiday traditions for small families:

  • 01 of 10

    Let Everyone Be a Chef

    Mom and daughter baking Christmas cookies
    Let your kids help with holiday baking. Photo © KidStock/Getty Images

    Let each member of the family make part of the meal. Spend a little time the week before planning what you're going to have, and who will be responsible for each part. If you have a small kitchen, or if your kids are young, help them prepare their part of the meal the night before. Try these simple, kid-friendly holiday recipes:

  • 02 of 10

    Say Thanks

    Girl expressing gratitude at Christmas dinner.
    Share what you're most grateful for this year. Photo © JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

    Spend some time going around the table sharing what you are most thankful for. If you think your kids might not put much effort into sharing their thanks verbally, put a twist on this favorite holiday tradition by asking them to demonstrate or illustrate what they are most thankful for this year. (In fact, this might turn out to be your favorite holiday tradition, if your kids happen to catch you off guard by voicing just how thankful they are for you.)

  • 03 of 10

    Share Your Favorite Faith-Based Holiday Traditions

    Family sining Christmas carols together.
    Enjoy favorite traditions like singing Christmas carols. Photo © Henglein and Steets/Getty Images

    Read stories and passages related to the holiday you are celebrating. Alternatively, let your children put on their own play, demonstrating the real meaning of the holiday. They can work on this together while you prepare the meal.

  • 04 of 10

    Celebrate the Holiday With Crafts

    Two little girls making holiday crafts
    Make holiday crafts with your kids. Photo © Sydney Bourne/Getty Images

    Let your children decorate the dinner table, their rooms, or the outside of your home with holiday decorations. In addition, if you are celebrating Thanksgiving, spend some time together after dinner making homemade Christmas ornaments and decorations. Especially if you enjoy crafts, but don't usually have time to make them in December, this is an ideal family activity for Thanksgiving night. Try the following suggestions:

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Take a Family Walk

    Mom and daughter in holiday outer gear.
    Head outdoors for a walk after dinner. Photo © Ignacio Ayestaran/Getty Images

    Make a family walk one of your regular holiday traditions. After enjoying the holiday meal together, let everyone pitch in on the clean-up, and then take a leisurely walk before dessert.

  • 06 of 10

    Watch a Holiday Classic

    Girl watching a holiday classic on tv
    Watch your favorite holiday classics on TV. Photo © Alexandra Jursova/Getty Images

    After dinner, spend some time watching a holiday classic together. Here are some of the top recommendations from Carey Bryson, our Guide to Kids' Movies & TV:

    • Top Thanksgiving Movies for Families
    • Top Christmas Movies for Families
    • Top Easter Movies for Families
  • 07 of 10

    Play Games Together

    Mom playing a board game with her two kids.
    Start a new holiday tradition: playing board games. Photo © John Lund/Nevada Wier/Getty Images

    Another favorite among holiday traditions for small families is playing games together. From playing a traditional game of charades to playing your kids' favorite board games or video games, having fun together is a great way to spend the holiday. Here are some recommendations:

  • 08 of 10

    Get Out of the House

    Girl holding a bowling ball
    Make a tradition out of holiday bowling. Photo © Rich Legg/Getty Images

    Plan to do something fun together after dinner. For example, go bowling, see a movie, or drive around town and check out the holiday decorations. Just for fun, you could even have your kids vote for the best ones.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Make a List

    Girl making a holiday list.
    Make a litt of your family's favorite holiday traditions. Photo © KirbusEdvard/Getty Images

    Every season, it seems that there are so many things that we want to do, but never get to. Why not turn making a list into one of your regular holiday traditions? For example, after dinner on Thanksgiving, make a list of what you want to do before Christmas. Then, on Christmas, make a list of what to do over winter break or during the new year.

  • 10 of 10

    Reach Out to Others

    Child making a homemade Christmas card.
    Make a holiday tradition out of giving to others. Photo © Vstock LLC/Getty Images

    Find a way to weave serving others into your holiday traditions. Go sing Christmas carols at a local nursing home, make cards for troops, or drop dessert off to a local women's shelter. This will not only teach your children valuable lessons about what's really important, but it will lift your spirits, as well.