Creating holiday traditions is fun way for families to be together

By Caroline Klapper | Dec 22, 2012
Photo by: Gene Ho Pictured is Melanie Snare, with her daughters Mariah, 5, and Makenzie, 2.

While the giving and getting of gifts is a big part of the Christmas holiday, for many families, the gifts are secondary to treasured family holiday traditions.

Haywood County native Melanie Snare, formerly Melanie Sutton, recently had the opportunity to share some of her favorite holiday traditions on an HLN television segment.

Although Snare now lives in Atlanta, she grew up in Waynesville, where her parents Steven and Rosemary Sutton, still own David’s Home Entertainment. Snare went to Tuscola High School and graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill and then went on to cheer for the Atlanta Falcons football team until 2006.

Since then, she has become a freelance TV host and producer, working on several shows, including “Falcons 360” and “Atlanta Mom.”

Snare’s blog,, gives readers tips on managing a busy schedule while making time for family, and on the HLN segment, she talked about five holiday traditions people can do with their children to make Christmastime special.

“You’re creating memories that are going to last a lifetime for them,” Snare said of the importance of creating holiday traditions. “Taking the time to sit down and give them that one on one attention, it’s so important not only for them but for you, too.”

Snare emphasizes easy, simple activities that don’t take much time but will be really special for the whole family.

Her first suggestion is to create a Christmas story time. Parents give their children a holiday-themed book for all 24 days before Christmas in December. She wrapped the books and put them under the tree. Every night, her children choose and unwrap one book and then she reads it to them before bed.

“They love it,” she said.

Her next suggestion is to create a message from Santa. Visiting the website allows parents to create a personalized message to a child from Santa himself.

“It’s so incredible,” she said of the message, which is emailed to the child. “I think it’s a brilliant production. It’s so well done.”

Many people remember to put out cookies and milk for Santa, but what about his reindeer? Snare offers a recipe for reindeer food including oats, colorful sprinkles and a little glitter, which can be put out on the lawn on Christmas Eve to help guide the reindeer to the house.

“My kids get so excited,” Snare said.

Another way to start some great holiday traditions is to let the children come up with their own.

Snare had her two daughters, Mariah, 5, and Makenzie, 2, make up holiday traditions and write them on index cards. She put the cards into the box, and every day before Christmas, the children pick one of the cards and the family does that activity together. It can be something as simple as singing a Christmas carol, to something more involved, such as donating a present to a needy child.

“It’s never too late for a family to begin a tradition,” Snare said.

Finally, Snare suggests finding a way to volunteer as a family. She helped serve dinner to a group of firefighters with her daughter’s Girl Scout troop.

“You want your kids to be able to look back on their childhood and have great memories of being together as a family,” Snare said.

Creating holiday traditions also helps parents stop and take time from their busy schedules to really enjoy the holidays.

“I’m so guilty of being on my laptop or being on my phone, but this makes time to sit with my kids and focus on them,” she said. “It’s really fun. It’s not like you have to do this big extravagant activity. It’s just something to do together. At the end of the day, what I think it is, is just spending time together.”