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Make Christmas Better With New Traditions

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mother and daughter decorate christmas tree

Be intentional about your Christmas plans and traditions, and your entire family will reap the benefits of a better, happier season!

Writer Karen Stiller shares how her family makes every Christmas better than the last, by adopting new and fulfilling holiday traditions.

Every year we ask ourselves the same question: How can we do Christmas better? For our family that means, how can we do less but celebrate more?

Christmas has typically been the Season of Exhaustion. We tear from event to event, ending up tired, a bit resentful and just plain relieved when it’s finally all over.

There’s good news: with intentionality, clear communication and yes, a bit of an iron will, Christmas can become more like the meaningful holiday we yearn for it to be. Here are a few suggestions.

Gather together your family and lay it all out on the table, or actually, the chopping block. List off all the activities, traditions, outings and obligations that you typically face each holiday.

Now, ask some tough questions. Is this activity worth the time it takes us away from our home and family? Do we really need to glue glitter onto pinecones every year or attend another wine and cheese party? Does it add in to our joy or just subtract from our energy?

Finally, chop away at your holiday to-do-list until it feels more manageable and fulfilling.


The traditions that our children are most reluctant to give up actually seem to involve giving.

When our family joins our church at the local senior’s centre for caroling on those freezing cold nights, something good is happening inside them. The one year we didn’t participate, the kids talked about it and missed it. The Open House we host for family and friends on a Sunday afternoon is a highlight of the year for our children. They love “hosting.”

The traditions that we have tried to keep are the ones that involve the age-old “it’s better to give than receive,” because, of course, when you give you do receive. And that is especially true of children.

This Christmas, create a new tradition with your family: sponsor a child and change many lives for years to come.

Once you’ve been ruthless with the old list of “must-dos” consider a “want-to-do-because-it-feels-so-good-list.”

It might be carving out an hour to write a letter and send a small treat to your sponsored child, friends living abroad or nieces and nephews. This is a perfect time of year to write—full of fodder for topics—like what winter is like in Canada, how to make the perfect snowman and what your family does on Christmas Eve.

When we dare to question the tyranny of Christmas Tradition, we are loving our family in a very practical way. By opening up space in our schedule, by lowering our standards for how much we have to accomplish and how magical it all needs to be, we open the door to being real, to being accessible and to actually enjoying the holiday season in a new way. Now, that is a great tradition to create!

Change two lives this Christmas, yours and a child in need's. When you sponsor a boy or girl, you show that child you value them, and that you believe they're worthy of a life filled with hope.




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