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Holiday Traditions With a Twist

In 2015, I wrote an article for Calgary’s Child entitled “Traditions with a Twist.” Now, with another six years of parenting, life experience, and time to observe friends and communities around the holidays under my belt, I want to share more ideas with you. I believe holiday traditions are more important than ever as we all navigate an ever-changing world. Now is the perfect time to lean on some classic holiday family activities and evolve them in order to enjoy and embrace life to the fullest. Read on for a few of my twists on traditions to consider adding to your family’s holiday season.

Pass the torch’ in the kitchen. Lately (as my 12-year-old son physically towers over me) I am aware that Christmas mornings look different than they used to. The 6am wake-up calls on Christmas mornings from my young kids bouncing on my bed now look more like slow rolls to the living room where everyone settles into their spot on the couch to open gifts. This new stage of life with my kids has allowed us to spend more quality time together in the kitchen during the holidays. I teach them how to cook and bake special recipes that have been passed down to me from previous generations. We are creating a tradition of walking down memory lane while also creating new recipes and memories together. Hopefully one day, my kids will pass on our special holiday recipes to their kids, carrying on the holiday tradition.

One-of-a-kind art. Every year, my kids create seasonal artistic creations at school and at home, and I save a few select pieces to use as holiday décor. I often use frames I have on-hand and place the kids’ art over my everyday images to make the house festive, sentimental, and comical. (I have a zombie snowman that makes an appearance every year and it always makes me laugh!)

Holiday walk through the neighborhood. One of my favorite things to do on Christmas night is to gather the family and venture out for a neighborhood walk. Everyone has wiled Christmas day away playing with their new gifts, taking naps, or snacking on leftover turkey, so an evening stroll is often needed to reenergize the mind and body. At first, your family may resist going for a holiday walk but in my experience, I’ve never had a Christmas Day walk where my family didn’t benefit from it. The stroll costs nothing and serves to settle into the events of the day and turn them into precious family memories. Admire your neighborhood’s Christmas light displays and trees covered with sparkly white snow along the way. Don’t forget to bring Fido! Dogs love frolicking through fresh snow.

Make the holidays magical with LEGO. Never heard of playing with LEGO as a classic holiday tradition? It’s not as universal a tradition as putting up and decorating a Christmas Tree, but this is where the twist comes in!

I am always on the lookout for fun holiday activities my family can enjoy together. When my kids were small and needed constant supervision, I introduced them to ‘Christmas LEGO.’ My littlest would divide the LEGO pieces up by color or stick her hands in a bowl of the little blocks to create noise; it has now evolved into a family Christmas tradition. Every year, we put together a unique LEGO set, agreed upon by the family. LEGO can be an expensive purchase (depending on the set), so I suggest you split the cost with close family or friends and share the set or purchase as part of the kids’ Christmas gifts. You may want to put the set away after Christmas and reassemble next year, creating an easy LEGO holiday tradition.

No matter what you do during the holidays, what you believe in (or don’t), the holidays can represent a time when you and the family interrupt your normal day-to-day doings to sprinkle in a little bit of magic by creating new experiences every year, keeping traditions as they have always been, or adding a twist. My best wishes go out to each one of you this year - and next. 

Tamara is an author, illustrator, and business owner. She is the author of bestselling children’s books and journals for families to create and document mindful moments (available to purchase on Amazon). For more information, visit




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