Family Voting: Making Holiday Traditions a Democracy


Tired of your whiny children that don’t want to participate in your holiday traditions? If peace matters more than carrying on certain traditions perhaps it’s time to make the holiday activities a matter of voting and compromise. Granted, you are the adult so there are some areas where you want to stand your ground, but perhaps there are other areas where the traditions you are carrying on are just out of tradition and not because anyone actually wants to do them.

Family Meeting

The Discussion
Hold a family meeting before the holiday events that are coming up. Discuss the events and traditions that are about to unfold and find out what everyone likes and dislikes. Just make it an open discussion to begin with in order to decide what areas are going well and what areas need worked on.

The next step is to contemplate possible solutions to the dislikes. It could be skipping a particular tradition, replacing it with something new, or a compromise where the less liked events are scaled back.

The Vote
If it looks like your family is split about how to remedy the aspects of traditions that are disliked, it may come down to a vote. Sometimes voting is implemented to make a final decision. Sometimes voting is used just to see where everyone stands and to make them pick which solution they like best. Be very clear about the purpose of this vote before it is made. You wouldn’t want everyone thinking that just because a majority vote is made that it is the end-all decision if in fact you called for a vote just to poll everyone’s opinions.

Another advantage to voting on the events, kids learn to take responsibility for their decisions and are less likely to whine and complain when you are fully able to remind them, “We’re doing this because you chose to.? When it’s just that Mom and Dad are making them they don’t see how they fit into it but when they are part of the decision process they naturally take on the responsibility of being part of the “making this work? process as well. They are much more likely to be of good cheer when they have input on the family activities.

The Compromise
It’s rare to get everyone in a family to agree, no matter what it is. If that happens, great! But when that doesn’t happen the only solution is to compromise. This is why a family meeting is so important because it takes everyone into consideration when the decisions are made. It also shows everyone that working together as a family where everyone wants the best for the whole group not just themselves is what is most important. These are valuable lessons that your children will carry throughout their lives (even if they don’t seem to get it during the first few years of holiday family meetings). Furthermore, this cooperative effort should bring greater peace within the home and make for a more joyful season. (That is after the tears and spats of the disagreements are over.)

-Mom loves to attend every holiday concert in the area but the kids and her husband just aren’t interested. A compromise would be that the whole family agrees to attend just one concert with her and the rest she attends with her girlfriends, or skips in order to spend time doing other chosen activities with the family.

-Husband wants a Christmas ham dinner but wife wants a turkey instead. A compromise would be to have both but in smaller sizes. Another option would be to alternate main dishes year to year or to do one for Christmas the other for New Year’s.

-One kid loves to decorate outside but the other hates untangling lights and standing out in the cold, but the family tradition in Dad’s family was that the kids always help Dad decorate outside. Maybe it’s time to let go of the staunch tradition aspect and think about what works best for the family. The child that loves to help Dad decorate could while the other one helps Mom make cookies and hot chocolate. Afterwards the whole family admires the beautiful outside decorations then they all enjoy cookies and hot chocolate while watching a holiday movie.

As you can see, there are so many traditions that are well intended but being too attached to the tradition and not as aware of whether or not anyone is actually enjoying it is the problem. Being flexible and willing to compromise with the needs and wants within your family and letting go of the need to carry on traditions just for the sake of it will help make everyone happier through the holidays. And remember, just because you try something different this year with the holidays, if it doesn’t work out or next year your family realizes they actually missed that tradition, you can always bring it back into action the following year. There’s no such thing as a perfect holiday, the only difference are ones you remember more fondly than others. Keep the focus on enjoying the Christmas season instead of living up to self-imposed expectations.

Good luck with your family meetings and may peace, love, and compromise fill your home!

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