8 Easy Ways to Create Your Own Outdoor Holiday Tradition

Let’s face it: It might feel a bit claustrophobic in the house at this time of year—with the kids underfoot, relatives hovering over you, and the strain of cooking, cleaning, shopping, and buying presents. Plus—who couldn’t use a brisk walk after eating several dozen Christmas cookies?

Even though the holidays are at times hectic and overwhelming, it’s the family traditions that make the season special. Often, it’s the children in our lives that keep us loyal to those rituals year after year.

Childhood experts know that family traditions provide a stable foundation to help children navigate their early years. Right now, these traditions could include a nightly lighting of the menorah, a tree-trimming party, or an annual feast with friends and family.

So, if your family’s only current outdoor holiday tradition is watching Dad teeter atop a ladder while stringing lights on the house, NWF is here to help!

Here are some great ideas to weave the “nature in your neighborhood” into the holidays from NWF’s Naturalist David Mizejewski and “Spokesmom” Rebecca Cohen:


Tips for Getting Outdoors Over the Holidays

  1. Walk It Off: A simple family walk—especially after a big meal—not only helps digestion, but can spark new ways to connect with your loved ones. If you want, bring a trash bag to clean up litter along the way!
  2. Leaf Jumping: No need to rake the yard. Ask the kids to do it, and then they can build the biggest leaf piles imaginable. Take pictures of the ensuing champion leaf-jumping.
  3. Get The Heart Racing: Organize yearly family touch football or soccer games, or an old-fashioned game of tag or hide-and-seek.
  4. Outdoor Tree-Trimming: “Adopt” a tree in your yard or neighborhood—find out what kind it is, and decide to visit it at least once every season. Then decorate it! Instead of ornaments, use things birds would like to eat.
  5. Scavenger Hunt: Give the kids a list of natural objects to find in the yard or neighborhood—pine cones, acorns, pretty leaves—and make it a contest who can find it all first.
  6. Decorate With Mother Nature: Have the children use some of the pine cones and leaves they found on the scavenger hunt to create pretty centerpieces, wreaths or other holiday décor.
  7. Christmas Bird Count: Get outside, learn about your feathered neighbors, and help scientists monitor the health and well-being of local bird populations.
  8. Say Cheese: Document your yearly outdoor traditions with photos. You can add them to a special photo album every year, and keep it on the coffee table for guests to enjoy. Or, load them them onto web albums and send the link to distant friends and relatives.

Download these tips and more in our Outdoor Holiday Guide (pdf)