Families who have recently added a new member — be it through marriage, birth, adoption, or pet rescue — may understandably be wondering how to plan and prepare for the holiday season in a way that makes the new addition feel loved and cherished.

To help in this beautiful goal, consider the following ideas:

1. Let Your Photo Christmas Cards Share the News

As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Thus, when you have big “new family member” news to share around the holidays, using the power of your festive photo Christmas cards is an easy and fun way to showcase how your family has grown. For example, if you became a new parent or adopted a toddler, gather around your newborn and smile big for the camera. Grown kids who got married should invite their spouse to be part of the photoshoot for the holiday card, while rescue animals are certainly an adorable part of many photo Christmas cards.

2. Include Them in Family Traditions

Another great way to help new members of your family feel welcomed during their first holiday with you is to include them in your traditions. If you hold an annual ugly sweater contest that also includes some time decorating Christmas cookies, treat your new son-in-law to his very own ugly sweater and tell him how excited you are that he’ll be joining in on the fun. 

In the case of a new in-law, adopted child, or step kid, you might ask what traditions, food, or music they like most and then make sure at least one idea is part of your holiday plan. For instance, your new stepson may shyly tell you he always puts out Oreos and chocolate milk for Santa — and he might be worried that if another treat is left, the Big Elf might not stop by. Make sure you have these usual sweet treats ready for Santa and give your new son a hug as he places the cookies on a plate and fills a glass with milk.

3. Start a New Tradition, Together

In addition to inviting new family members to take part in your favorite traditions, you might also enjoy brainstorming new ideas with him or her that your newly extended group can do. Suggestions include making and decorating gingerbread houses, having a holiday movie night complete with plenty of popcorn and drinks, volunteering together at an animal shelter or food bank, or going out caroling.

4. Welcome Them with a Gift Basket

For families who have recently adopted an older child, have a new foster kiddo, or have grown their family through marriage — either their own or the nuptials of their children — welcoming everyone new with a special gift basket will make everyone feel right at home. For instance, new young adult stepdaughters who are coming to stay for a few days around the holidays will be touched to see a special basket, just for her, in the guest room, filled with her favorite coffee, a new mug, candy, holiday-themed jammies, and some peppermint lotion. New pets can also be made to feel right at home with a Goody Box of toys and treats.

Embrace the Changes

Your family photos will look different this year, and that’s a wonderful thing. No matter who has been added to your group, you certainly must be delighted that they will now be part of your holiday celebrations in the years to come. Besides including them in your photo Christmas cards, make them feel welcome through the power of old and new traditions, as well as a festive gift basket — and enjoy a lovely holiday together.

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