Holiday Traditions at the Cabin

Traditions play an essential role in our lives. They are the rituals—big and small—that foster a sense of comfort and belonging. They contribute to the rhythm of our lives—the anticipation and expectation of good things. Over time, traditions build lasting memories.

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Traditions tend to emerge organically during the holiday season, and the cabin provides the perfect backdrop for creating and maintaining special family customs. The relaxed atmosphere and natural togetherness combined with the lure of nature at our doorstep provides plenty of opportunity to establish holiday traditions.

Sometimes traditions develop naturally, and sometimes we intentionally start new ones. They evolve and change over time and life stage. Since cabin time is often family time, it’s a great place to start new traditions. Below are ideas—some of our personal favorites from over the years (complete with candid family photos circa early 2000s!) and some suggestions—for creating cabin traditions.

Cabin Luge.

When our children were small, every year they eagerly anticipated the creation of the “luge track” on our hill. We would use a snowblower to build a winding trail through the snow, and they would speed around the track in saucer sleds for hours. All that sledding naturally led to hot cocoa around the hearth and an early bedtime for the little ones.

Do You Fondue?

Chris’ birthday falls just before New Year’s Eve, and for the past 20 years it has been a treasured family tradition to enjoy a leisurely fondue birthday meal. Sometimes it starts with apples and French bread pieces dipped in cheese. We always do a broth fondue with marinated meats, fresh vegetables and a variety of dipping sauces. Fondue is a unique, social event—try it on New Year’s Eve at your cabin. (Don’t forget chocolate fondue for dessert!)

Skating Season.

Another favorite tradition is to shovel out an ice rink on the lake for skating, hockey or boot hockey. This is a fun-for-all-ages activity—even dogs can’t resist joining in the fun! Hosing down the rink after shoveling makes a perfectly smooth, sleek surface.

Tree Traditions.
  • Our families have often spent Thanksgiving weekend at the cabin. We always capped off the weekend by stopping at our favorite tree farm on the way home to pick out a Christmas tree.
  • You may want to string lights on a single, outdoor tree at your cabin. Far from city lights, the result is a magical focal point to be enjoyed throughout the winter season.
In the Kitchen.
  • Cookie creations. What a fun cabin tradition, and also a great way to loop in grandparents…the aroma of cookies baking and the fun of decorating are irresistible.
    • Tip: For those wanting to get a jump start on holiday baking, cookies are perfect for freezing—with many helpers in the kitchen, plan to make a variety, freezing any that don’t get devoured immediately.
  • Family recipes. Speaking of grandparents, passing down traditional family recipes—sharing where they originated, and most importantly the secret to making them perfectly—is an important piece of heritage for the whole family. The ultimate comfort food.
  • Gingerbread cabin? Try a new twist on the traditional gingerbread house with a cabin theme (think pretzel rods or Pirouette cookies for the logs). Get creative, finding unique ways to give your cabin an “up north” vibe.

Whatever your family traditions are, we’re fairly certain many involve a roasted turkey. At Amy’s place, Thanksgiving day is soon followed by an evening of turkey soup and football—often with extended family or friends joining in on the festivities. Amy’s original recipe for Tuscan Turkey Soup is a comforting, delicious way to make use of your turkey leftovers. Bonus: Cheesy Skillet-Toasted Bread is a great accompaniment. Try these recipes yourself—they’re especially satisfying on a cold winter day.

Reminiscing about the holidays has us anticipating the upcoming season and considering some new traditions of our own. We certainly hope you feel equally inspired to start some new traditions at your cabin this year. Cheers!


  1. Delicious cookies!! Freeze great to enjoy the entire holiday season.

  2. Great blog. Enjoyed grandparents hand down recipes. I think I am going yo make soup this weekend Amy and Chris you need a larger picture as my eyes are not as good as they used to be

  3. Love Amy.

  4. Another great blog. Thank you – I so enjoy reading theses!

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