5 Tips to Dramatically Strengthen Family Memories and Traditions

5 easy tips and tricks to dramatically strengthen family memories and traditions

did you know that family memories are the strongest when associated with multiple senses? my strongest holiday memories growing up were ones where we were listening to music, holiday scents filled the air, we were tasting treats or savory dishes, cooking in the kitchen and getting messy – all incorporating sight, smell, taste, sounds, and touch. as i strive to make family traditions and memories with my kids, i always try to include as many senses in each experience as i can! today i’m sharing tips on how to dramatically strengthen family memories and traditions through your 5 senses – mostly in regards to the holidays but these ideas can apply to the everyday memories as well!


sense of smell – it is official that this is the #1 way to strengthen emotional memories – including family traditions and holiday moments. according to this study and many, many others smell is the sense that is most associate with memory. therefore, a simple way to increase your family’s positive holiday memories is to incorporate a smell!

there are lots of smells associated with cooking and baking in the kitchen so try and make this a part of your holiday routine and even your weekly routine. my favorite smells are gingerbread, apple pie, roasted candied pecans, and oddly enough sausage egg casserole –my mom made this every christmas morning!

get the recipe for these candied pecans here

get the recipe for these gingerbread cookie cups

other than food smells, the easiest way that i have found to do this is to use a specific candle smell each time we do a holiday activity – from reading books, decorating, crafting ect. i love Glade® Under the Mistletoe scent exclusively at Target, so i light this candle each time we begin an activity or just around the house during this time of year. it sets our whole family at ease, and we get right into the holiday spirit!

sound – play music! this is a great way to build lasting memories – especially when coupled with other senses! we listen to holiday music when decorating the house, baking, and all through the season. if ‘kid’ holiday music drives you crazy try classical or instrumental playing softly in the background.

to be honest, i try to incorporate music in the everyday more than even the holiday time. i turn it on as much as possible – we listen when we clean, when we wake up in the morning, at bath time, and anytime i see our family having a good time. playing that background music will reinforce that moment in their memories!

touch – think cozy blankets, comforting soup, getting messy in the kitchen, a warm fire, & crafting with your kids. there are so many ways to make this holiday a sensory experience! cinnamon play-dough and red and white slime are great activities for young kids. making and decorating holiday cookies or cupcakes is another great activity for all ages – trust me its not just for little kids! my siblings and i have a creative competition each year to see who can make the best or most unique decorated cookie! (ps guys i think i am still reigning champion with my baby in utero cookie. #itwasepic)

taste – this one is pretty easy around the holiday time! the obvious cookies, cakes, pies, and sweets are an easy way to make memories. we often have certain meals associated with specific holidays – these recipes become family traditions. sheppard’s pie or crown roast on christmas eve, grandmas brussel sprouts on christmas day, mom’s mashed potatoes on thanksgiving. year round, you can incorporate this into birthdays, lunch food items, or food categories on certain nights (taco tuesday, pizza fridays ect). food memories are most likely to be remembered if there is some type of consistency so write your recipes down and serve them on a regularly occurring time frame!

sight – while most mammals have well developed senses, humans devote most of our sensory brain activity to our sense of sight. what does this mean for memories and traditions? visually stimulating, striking, or colorful sights will illicit stronger memories. decorate your home for the holidays! go see christmas light displays, plays, watch family holiday movies, ect. most of what you are doing to build your family traditions and memories will already be associated with this sense, but recognizing it as important will help you to give that extra umph to make it even stronger.


i think its safe to say that i am a bit obsessed with familiy traditions and memories… even since i understood the science behind this approach our family experiences have been all the better. give it a try! when possible, include as many senses as possible!

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Celebrate the season with festive fragrances from Glade®. Spread holiday magic through the town with the scent of bright holly berries and fresh pine garland, featured in Target’s exclusive scent, Under the Mistletoe.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Glade®. The opinions and text are all mine.