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In our go-go lifestyles and fast-paced world, traditions sometimes get brushed aside in our rush to get everything done. Yet traditions actually help us slow down and spend meaningful time together as a family. They also give our kids a sense of belonging — and parents and other family members a way “to pass on the stories, values, and behaviors we care about to our next generation,” explains Lee Myerhoff Hendler, a noted expert on traditions. On top of that, many traditions are fun, and give us something to look forward to year after year.

What traditions does your family take part in each year? This holiday season, try adding a new tradition — and committing as a family to sticking to it for years to come. These tips from Musselman’s Apple Sauce can help you get started.

Tap into your family history

Traditions give us a chance to delve into our pasts and learn something about those who came before us. What stories and customs have been passed down through your family? What special, age-old recipes to you enjoy? Pull from your family history to start a new tradition. For instance, if your extended family is from the South, but you’re raising your kids in another part of the country, add a southern dish to your holiday meal. Likewise, if your grandparents chopped down their own Christmas trees or carved their own dreidels, then follow suit with your family.

Make it simple

Traditions don’t have to take much time and effort. Consider something simple like having everyone go around the dinner table and share one positive thing that happened this year, or plan an annual nature walk after your holiday festivities come to an end. The trick is to make it manageable with your other obligations.

Get creative

Homespun gifts mean a lot because of the time and care that go into them. This year, make it a new custom that everyone gives a handmade present to another family member. Consider drawing names, or go all out and make your own gifts for everyone. Not sure what to create? Visit a craft store and browse the aisles for ideas, or try these unique options from Real Simple. Not so crafty? Do something interesting with your family photos.

Make it about giving

Since the holidays are a time of gift giving, consider a tradition in which your family lends a helping hand to someone in need. Set aside an afternoon to bake cookies or cakes to take to a nursing home, volunteer at a local soup kitchen, or donate a new toy or coat to a gift drive.

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