5 Holiday Rituals to Build Attachment

This is a great time of year to slow down, savor the little moments, and intentionally connect with your kids.

Shannon Hicks December 07, 2017

‘Tis the season of holiday hustle and bustle. A season full of excitement and anticipation -sometimes with a side to too much sugar and not enough sleep. But it’s also a great season to slow down, to savor the little moments. It’s a great season to intentionally connect with your kids . . . especially kids from hard places who may have big feelings about the holidays and have a tough time expressing them appropriately. Here are five ideas of holiday rituals that can help build connection between you and your child.

Bake or cook together
1. Bake or cook together

Are there certain holiday dishes that your family loves? Get your kids involved in helping to prepare them. As you work side by side, tell the story of great-grandma Edith’s famous pound cake or uncle Eddie’s deep-fried turkey. Or work together to make and decorate a huge batch of cookies (slice and bake is fine if it simplifies things). I did this with my kids (ages 3 and 11) this week, and it was a huge hit. Plus, who doesn’t love sampling the delicious work of your hands when you’re done?!

Get outside
2. Get outside

One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is strolling through the downtown area of our city and admiring the twinkle lights in the trees. It’s easy, it’s free, and it gets us outside. Maybe your holiday preparations take you to a farm to choose the perfect tree. Or into your backyard for a giant snowball fight. There’s just something magical about being out and about during this time of year. So, bundle up, head out, and be sure to enjoy a cup of hot cocoa when you get back home.

Make gifts
3. Make gifts

These can be as simple or as elaborate as you like, but there’s nothing quite like a handmade gift. Grandparents love them. Birth families love them. Teachers and neighbors love them. For the little ones, think about making ornaments with handprints (a quick internet search will turn up tons of ideas). For older kids, maybe you could build or knit or paint something together. Crank up the holiday tunes and get creative as a family.

Give back
4. Give back

Especially for older adopted children who may remember being the recipient of other people’s charity, giving back is a great ritual to enjoy together at the holidays. There are tons of ways that you can do this. My daughter and I are volunteering at a Christmas party for kids in our community with incarcerated parents. You could go caroling at a nursing home, bake cookies and deliver them to a fire station, or save money together to donate to a favorite charity.

Tell stories
5. Tell stories

This is a great time of year to share stories. As you decorate the tree, talk about the story behind special ornaments. Tell the story of why you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or both or neither. Pop some popcorn and watch a festive movie together, and then laugh together as you retell the funny parts again and again. Invite your kids to tell their stories too . . . of holiday memories (good and bad) or holiday dreams and wishes.


Here’s to a beautiful holiday full of intentional moments of connection with your kids! What are your favorite holiday rituals that help build connection? Let me know in the comments!

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Shannon Hicks

Shannon is mom to two amazing kids who joined her family through foster care adoption. She is passionate about advocating for children through her writing and her job as a kindergarten teacher. You can read more from her at Adoption, Grace and Life.


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