According to SmartStepfamilies.com, 40 percent of married couples with children in the U.S. are stepcouples — a family where at least one person enters the marriage with a child from a previous relationship. Although stepfamilies aren’t exactly an uncommon phenomenon, they do pose a few unique problems when it comes to achieving harmony in the home. These hardships are magnified ten times over during the holidays, when many family traditions come into distinct clashes. To promote peace this upcoming holiday season, here are six new holiday traditions you can start with your own blended family.
1. Secret Santa
Because of the popularity of this holiday tradition, there’s a good chance at least some members of your blended family have already participated in Secret Santa. It’s a great opportunity for new members to get to know one another and show their appreciation without breaking the bank. A great way to organize this tradition (besides drawing from a hat) is starting up an exchange list on Elfster.com. The website makes it easy for everyone in the family to sign in, create a wish list, assign a budget and view each other’s information in one quick and comprehensive visit. This makes it easy to show one particular person in your new family how much they really mean to you.
2. Holiday Photos
Most families take holiday photos for Christmas, but what about Thanksgiving? This could be a cool tradition to incorporate with your new, blended family as a way to have fun and celebrate your recent union. If you’re not the most Photoshop-savvy person in the world, Minted.com is a great resource for decorating your photo Christmas cards and Thanksgiving cards with unique frames, special messages and funny “stickers” to get them ready for mailing out to your extended family and friends. Taking some focus off of Christmas — which may be a touchy holiday for children — and putting it on Thanksgiving will bring you all closer without replacing any previous traditions.
3. Elf on the Shelf
Although the Elf on the Shelf is targeted mostly toward younger children, you can bring an air of mystical magic to the Christmas holiday for a wide range of ages. Families can visit Elfontheshelf.com to search through Santa’s Elf Adoption Centers, which are full of elves waiting to be brought into your home. You and your family can pick out a name for your elf and register the adoption online. After reading the book of the same name, The Elf on the Shelf comes to life to watch over children and report back to Santa. Every night he magically flies to the North Pole to deliver the news to Santa and returns by morning in a new, secret spot.
4. Tree Farm
If you’re used to your artificial tree or just play if safe by going to Home Depot every year, you’re missing out on what could be a fun family tradition. Tree farms create the whole experience by allowing you to pick out your tree the old-fashioned way. Often, tree farms make it well worth the extra effort, since you can pick out your fresh tree while also enjoying sleigh rides, hot cocoa and other family-friendly activities. Not to mention, there’s nothing like the smell of fresh evergreens to usher the spirit of Christmas into the season.