Home Management Series: Traditions and Holidays

traditions and holidays

Welcome to Part 8 of the Home Management Series. This is our last post in this series! Thank you for hanging with me on this one. I hope it was helpful to you, and honestly, it came at such a timely moment with us quarantined to our homes for the next few weeks. Which brings me to today’s final topic: family traditions and holidays.

“To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition, the end to which every enterprise and labour tends.”
– Samuel Johnson, The Rambler, No. 68

Monthly Themes & Traditions:

I wanted to start this post by delving into what the McFarland Family traditions look like. This is still very much a work-in-progress for us and will ultimately look different for everyone depending on your family favorites. I find it helpful to start by identifying what is worth celebrating since we won’t have time or energy for everything. This looks like honing in on 1-2 traditions per month. A lot of these ideas came from one of my favorite books, The Lifegiving Home. If you are interested in delving deeper to this concept, I highly suggest you buy a copy.

We also have a monthly theme that we focus on with the kids which I put in the brackets. I use the theme to target our free time on weekends. Here they are:

  • January: Family Planning Day {Routines} 
  • February: Skiing Weekend; Valentine’s Day, Girls Academy Awards Party {Manners}
  • March: Spring Break Week Away {Beauty / Gardening} 
  • April: Boys Masters Weekend Party; Easter {Faith}
  • May: Twins Birthday {Commemorate} 
  • June: Mother-Daughter Trip / Father-Son Trip {Play} 
  • July: Historical Trip, 4th of July {Tradition}
  • August: Family Day {Family} 
  • September: UVA Tailgate Visit {Home} 
  • October: Fall Family Party; Halloween {Serving}
  • November: Thanksgiving {Gratitude} 
  • December: Advent; Christmas, Open House Party {Celebrate}

Seasonal Checklist

Another fun way to incorporate traditions is to create seasonal family checklists. We started doing this recently now that our kids are older and easier to take out. We have one for spring, summer, winter and fall. Each list has about 10-12 things that are appropriate for that season and for the age of our kids. Some of them will change over time as we get new ideas and hit new milestones. Here are a few of them:

  • Spring: Visit the Zoo, Plant the garden, Decorate Easter Eggs, Visit Maymont, Play mini golf, Go berry picking 
  • Summer: Children’s Museum playdate, Flying Squirrels Baseball game, Summer concert series, Splash pad, Busch Gardens Family Day, Make homemade popsicles 
  • Fall: Go apple picking, Make Schultz apple pie, Visit the pumpkin patch, Take our family photos, Volunteer at a food pantry, make smores, Attend a UVA Football game 
  • Winter: Go skiing, Visit the indoor trampoline park, Go bowling, Visit the art museum, ice skating, See the Nutcracker, Make an epic fort

We usually plan to knock these items out on Sundays. Our goal is to use that day to put down our phones and focus on enjoying time together as a family. I make any necessary arrangements during my Friday afternoon planning sessions. If you want to dig into this concept more, I would suggest you check out the Parents Goal Guide from Cultivate What Matters. And I highly suggest you make your own!

Executing Holidays with Intention

The other day I had a realization that as a mom I am now in charge of creating memories for my kids. That means my goal is to celebrate each holiday in a fun and magical way. How do I do this? The first step for me was identifying which holidays are important to me. Besides the obvious ones (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter), I love Valentine’s Day and Fourth of July. I also want birthdays to be a special celebration each year.

The next thing I do is buy separate storage boxes for each holiday. In each one, I throw our seasonal home decorations, any special books or mememtos. I also love to shop the discount aisle after each holiday passes to stock up on fun new additions to my growing collections. I label them and keep them in my attic until the holiday approaches.

Another important step is planning. I use my Celebrations Binder from Cultivate What Matters specifically for this purpose. In it, I detail out what I want the holiday to look like and the steps I need to do to ensure it all comes to fruition. Trust me, it’s never anything elaborate. At this stage in my life I keep it as simple as possible with the knowledge that these traditions will continue to grow as my children do.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, holiday meals! I love food and there is something so special about having a go-to menu for each holiday. When I read How to Celebrate Everything: A Cookbook, it changed the way I think about family meals. I highly recommend you pick up a copy if you love food like me.

These small steps add up to creating intentional holiday celebrations with family. You won’t get it all right the first time, but each year will add upon itself.

Creating Magic for Your Children

Finally, how do we create magic for our children? To be honest, this one is hard for me to do but it is something that I am working on. Creating a magical childhood isn’t just about going big for Christmas. It’s about the everyday habits and patterns you work into your rhythms. For me, this looks like surprising them with small reminders around the house that I love them. It means letting go more and saying yes to splashing in rain puddles. It means more one-on-one time with each child to truly get to know who they are. And it means being interested in the things that they find interesting (yes, even if that means playing Paw Patrol for the 1000x on the floor). Figure out how this manifests for your family, and fight hard for it.

If you want more ideas here, I would suggest you read any of the following books: Happier at Home and Hands Free Mama


Next week we will be moving into our health series which will include topics like meal planning, my Peloton review and how I think about health. I can’t wait to dig in.


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