Now that your children have left home, it’s time to focus on making new holiday traditions. As an empty nester, you can build holiday traditions that bring the young adults in your life back to your home for holidays. With these tips, you can start traditions that your loved ones will want to carry on through the years.
The Value of Tradition
Traditions often hold a cherished spot in people’s hearts. The reason for this may come down to human nature.
According to Psychology Today, people thrive when they have a mix of new experiences and stable foundations. Along with family, home and routines, traditions provide a solid foundation in life. Holiday traditions in particular can contribute to trust bonds and familial connections by creating a sense of continuity in life.
By making traditions a part of your celebrations year after year, you can create powerful memories and strengthen your connections to your loved ones. You can also leave a lasting legacy since these traditions may continue long after you’re gone.
Why Start New Holiday Traditions?
Every tradition has to start at some point. Although you may cherish the traditions you enjoyed in the past, these old traditions may no longer fit your lifestyle.
For example, many of your old traditions may have been built around the fact that your children were young and lived at home. Now that they are grown and they’ve moved out of the house – and possibly out of the state – you need to adapt. This could involve holding the traditional celebration in a different spot, or it could involve changes that accommodate a growing number of grandchildren.
Incorporating Old Traditions into Your New Traditions
When you build new holiday traditions, you don’t necessarily have to start from scratch. Incorporating old traditions is a good way of keeping your memories alive and giving your new traditions a connection to the past.
- Continue old traditions that still fit your family dynamics. Maybe you always sang a specific song around the holidays. You can continue to do this even if your other traditions have changed.
- Adjust old traditions as needed. Some of your most cherished traditions may no longer be practical. However, you may be able to keep the traditions alive by making adjustments.
- Pass the torch to younger generations. For example, maybe you always used to prepare a special dish for the holidays. Now it’s time to teach the younger members of your family how to make the dish. This is a good way to share holiday responsibilities so you’re not stuck with all the work while also ensuring that the tradition can continue with the next generation.
Be Open to New Traditions
Just as your traditions are important to you, other people have traditions that are important to them. To avoid conflict around the holidays, it’s important to be respectful of other traditions. This is especially important when welcoming new members into your family, such as daughters-in-law or sons-in-law.
- Compromise when traditions conflict. For example, if your family always opens gifts on Christmas morning, but your daughter-in-law grew up opening presents on Christmas Eve and wants to continue this tradition with her family, you may be able to compromise by opening some presents on Christmas morning and some presents on Christmas Eve.
- Embrace new traditions. Many traditions can simply be added to the other traditions you already practice. For example, if you have a son-in-law who wants to prepare a special dish, you can add this dish to what you like to serve.
Make the Holiday Traditions Enjoyable for Everyone
You may be tempted to force your family to do things on your terms over the holidays, but this can backfire. If people aren’t comfortable, they may decide not to join you at all over the holidays, and then you won’t be able to carry on traditions or spend quality holiday time with your loved ones.
For example, you may want your extended family to stay in your house even if it means that people don’t have much space. That way, everyone can spend as much time together as possible. However, some of your family members may prefer to rent a nearby hotel. They may want some privacy and quiet time, or they may simply have trouble getting a good night’s sleep at your place because of the sleeping arrangement. If you respect their wishes, you’ll make the holidays more pleasant for everyone and increase the odds that people will keep coming back to your place year after year.
Share the Holidays
Although you may want to host everyone at your place every year, there may be others in your extended family who also want to host. If that’s the case, you may find that you need to create a schedule that works for everyone. Otherwise, you could end up with competing holiday events that divide your family.
There are multiple ways to share hosting duties. You could have one person host on one day or for one holiday while you host for another day or holiday. You could also alternate years, so you host one year and another person hosts the next year.
Creating an Enjoyable Time for Everyone
The holidays can be a time of family, friends and cheer, but the holidays are also a source of stress for many people. Your goal is for everyone to want to participate in your holiday traditions, so you need to make the experience as welcoming as possible.
- Location: You may want to host the holidays at your house. However, consider whether this is a convenient location for everyone. If it’s not, you may be able to find another location. For example, you could rent a cabin in a location that works for everyone and make that your new tradition.
- Cost: Money is a big part of why the holidays can be stressful. Your loved ones may be spending money to travel to visit you. If they don’t have paid time off from work, they may also lose some income. Gift expectations can add more expenses. If money is a tight, consider ways to alleviate the financial burden, such as doing a gift exchange for adults where each person only has to buy a gift for one adult instead of buying gifts for everyone.
- Activities: There may be activities that you love but that others in your family hate. You can explain that certain activities are important to you and encourage others to join, but be careful about being too pushy.
- Food: Many people have dietary preferences for religious, ethical or health reasons. Make sure that everyone will have plenty of food that meets their needs. This may involve encouraging everyone to contribute.
- Conversation: Certain conversations make people uncomfortable. Although you may want to use the holidays to nudge your adult children to provide grandchildren, doing so could drive a wedge between you and your family. Avoid topics that other people clearly don’t want to discuss.
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