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Creating holiday traditions around food

Tiernan McKay is a freelance writer based in Denver, Colorado. Her writing has appeared in magazines such as Alive!, Occupational Health and Safety, Restaurants and Institutions, Tampa Bay and Arizona Woman. Right now, she is either ridi...

Homemade memories

For many families, the holidays are synonymous with good times, laughter and food. A festive holiday meal is the perfect backdrop for creating lasting memories that your family will cherish.

Sometimes the chaos of the holiday season overshadows our efforts to create holiday traditions, but it doesn't have to. These simple tips will inspire you to use food to make memories this holiday season.

Why bother?

In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it may seem easier to skip traditions altogether, but resisting the temptation to take the easy road will pay off dividends in the long run.

"Family traditions are important because they build bridges that span from generation to generation," says Lori Hogan, co-founder of Home Instead Senior Care and author of the upcoming book, Strength for the Moment: Inspiration for Caregivers. "Traditions create shared experiences that help younger generations understand their family history, faith and culture."

Find out how to create holiday traditions with your kids >>

Gather 'round the table

With all of the hoopla surrounding the holidays, it often seems overwhelming to establish traditions that can compete with all of the glitz. With food, busy moms can keep it simple while making sure our families remember this joyous time of year.

"Food is a great way to build family traditions," says Hogan. "Recipes are easy to hand down and food is also an important part of tradition because scents are closely related to memories. Is there anything better than entering a home during the holidays and smelling cookies or pies baking? It takes you back to memories of previous holidays."

Read about 5 ways to super-scent your holidays >>

Simple strategies

We all have to eat, so connecting food to holiday traditions can be a natural process. The key is to keep things simple. "Don't over-think things," says Hogan. "Start small. Come up with an easy-to-prepare comfort food and prepare it with your family — soup or chili are easy ways to begin. Baking bread is easy to do as well."

Don't fall into the trap of getting stuck in the kitchen alone. You can create memories and spark conversation when you include everyone in the process. Also, resist the urge to shoo potential helpers from the kitchen — even though it may take longer, and possibly be messier, it's worth it to keep family members there by your side. "The best food traditions involve interaction with my family — the grocery shopping, preparation, cooking and baking and sharing of the meal," Hogan says.

Find out how to keep the holidays simple with family >>

Find inspiration

If the idea of creating an elaborate holiday meal (or even baking holiday cookies) makes you cringe, inspiration is close at hand. Cooking or family lifestyle magazines and holiday cookbooks offer plenty of easy-to-follow advice. The Homemade Memories Cookbook, recently published by Home Instead, Inc., features heartwarming stories about cherished family recipes and holiday memories, as well as the recipes themselves. You can also quiz your older family members for their favorite recipes, and turn them into your own family memory.

Gather the family and whip up some clam cakes, an orange chocolate chip Bundt cake, blueberry pancakes or Irish stew while holiday music streams in the background. Soon the sounds and scents of the season will create precious traditions that are sure to make memories.

Read about a sucker for holiday music >>

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