Build New Family Traditions This Holiday Season

Few celebrations across the year bring back vivid memories like those of the holiday season. Peppermint candy canes alone can conjure scenes from years past. We spend time and money each year around the holidays decorating and cooking. But sometimes, like too much holiday music, these familiar customs can start to feel a little stale. So why not spice it up a bit?

Adding new traditions into the mix can be a great chance to explore novel ways to be together and grow towards one another, too. So, try thinking out of the box this holiday season, and build up new customs for your family that have less to do with getting and more to do with giving. It’s what this time of year is all about, right?

Try these merry and bright ideas on for size, you just might find a few new directions that will make rich traditions turn into cherished memories for generations to come!

Give Back This Holiday Season

Although it’s easy to make a budget and buy gifts for the family, adding a little variety to the way your family gives back can become quite meaningful for everyone, including those that will receive the gifts you’re giving. Take some time this holiday season and get out of your comfort zone.

Host a holiday Angel Tree party. If you’re looking to pay it forward, or just hoping to spread a little more holiday cheer, the Angel Tree might be just what you’ve been looking for. Developed by the Salvation Army to give gifts to children in need, the effort now has widened to include gifting for the disabled and elderly. Leverage the power of the internet and recruit friends on social media to get in the game and donate gifts. Whether you want to sponsor your tree physically or online, you can find all the details on SignUpGenius’ Angel Tree page which walks you through everything you need to know to get your Angel Tree up and running. Connect with a local social worker to find people and kids in need.

Join the Christmas Bird Count. Almost a 120 year old tradition, the Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count is one of the most important citizen-based efforts to scientifically gather data on bird populations across North America. Put on your long johns, get the kids out of the house and spend the morning hiking outside and charting the various types of birds in your neck of the woods. Your family will work with expert birders (compilers, as they’re called) that lead the tour and identify those feathered friends for you. Dates range from the middle of December through early January, though the majority of the birders go out on Christmas morning.

Open a hot chocolate stand. If you’ve got kids, bundle up and join them in redecorating that dusty lemonade stand and convert it into one filled with holiday lights and cheer. Fill up a few thermoses with hot chocolate and give away that goodness to passersby on the sidewalk. They’ll remember your kindness and you’ll add a little generosity to a chilly winter day.

Invent Your Own Advent Calendar and Observe the Solstice

Mix up the holiday decorations this year by delegating, and get a little more done every day. Involving the whole family makes the job easier, and it will help to bring you all together. Field trips to the back yard — or across the cityto check out the stars is another great way to connect with those that matter most.

Make a decorating/countdown calendar. Deck the halls a little bit each day and spread out the cheer by crafting an advent calendar together, this one with a task for each of the days leading up to the holiday. Start with the major decorations on the early days of the month, and keep a close eye on the kids to be sure they’re safe, as the days progress. Fold a few chores into the mix and you’ll even get a cleaner home from the effort! Other jobs to include are calling relatives and setting dates aside to catch up with friends. Another great idea is to plan a candy scavenger hunt once all that hard work is behind you and the holidays are a few days away.

Celebrate the solstice. Turn your eyes towards the skies this season by marking the solstice with a visit to a local planetarium. Or, if you’ve got a telescope, and the night skies are clear, taking some time to stargaze and visit the moon can be a fun way to explore the universe with family and friends. Plus, it gives you the perfect excuse to warm up those chilly fingers and toes afterwards with hot cider around the fireplace. Who knows, you might even spot some reindeer flying out there!

Cook Up New Traditions for the Holiday Season

Pairing good times with great food is the perfect way to make new memories. Each year, when you return to the kitchen, you’ll always have those familiar favorites — but the addition of new, brilliant eats can really help to spice up the holidays.

Make a holiday meal for a family in need. You may know of someone whose family would be over the moon if a whole holiday meal were to show up on that special day. Consider doubling your recipes this year and cook another meal to be delivered to a needy family. Contact your local food pantry to learn of a family to cook for. Before you start cooking, remember to inquire about food restrictions and talk to the family about the food you’ll be preparing to be sure your menu is right for them.

Develop those gingerbread house-building skills. Although gingerbread house kits are readily available at any grocery store, there’s nothing like the smell of fresh gingerbread to make the tiny tots eyes all aglow. Getting the gingerbread cut to the right proportions will mean you’ll have to pay attention to detail when cooking. But all of that hard work will pay off once you’re applying the icing and gum drops. And as the holidays approach next year, you’ll be a seasoned gingerbread house-building expert.

Make a few new dishes for the big dinner this season. Break free from the green bean casserole and recruit the family to step up and prepare a few new recipes from scratch together. With so many gourmet recipes available online, it’s easier than ever to find something that sounds like the perfect addition to round out your offerings for the big family dinner. With everyone contributing to the process, it promises to be a dish to remember!

Build an epic holiday playlist. Get on your favorite streaming music app and put together a playlist of holiday songs you want to sing. Make it even more epic by splicing in tunes that have a personal significance to you and your family from the days gone by. Help bring those long-lost childhood memories back into focus with music you grew up listening to while jamming with the holiday oldies.

There are so many new and unique ways to deck the halls this holiday season. Traditions don’t need to be fancy or tied to the past. New, positive ideas to make the season bright can help to reframe the way you and your family look at giving. And better still, the connections you’ll make with loved ones while you help spread some joy can last a lifetime.

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