Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Eid al-Fitr, Bodhi Day or the winter solstice, holiday traditions are a fun way for families to bond and create fond memories. The traditions you choose are limited only by your imagination in the way you and your family carry them out. The following are a few fun traditions to consider.
Customs for Gatherings
Storytelling. Choose a theme such as “my most memorable holiday season” or “the best thing that happened this year,” and ask each person to share a memory. Record the storytelling on video or audio, then play it in future years as part of your memory-sharing tradition.
Poetry. Hold a holiday poetry reading. Ask each person to bring copies of their favorite seasonal or holiday poems to pass out and read aloud at your gathering.
White elephant. Rather than exchanging gifts or doing a drawing for a gift exchange, hold a “white elephant.” Each guest brings a wrapped gift that anyone can use. Everyone then draws a numbered slip and takes a turn choosing either a wrapped gift or taking an unwrapped gift from another participant. If a player loses their gift, that person gets to choose another wrapped gift or take a gift from someone else. For complete rules and variations on this fun gift exchange, visit whiteelephantrules.com.
For Twosomes or the Whole Brood
Cozy escape. Escape the holiday hustle and bustle and enjoy a holiday retreat. Try a cozy cabin in the woods or another scenic setting. Then enjoy your togetherness near a roasting fire, flipping through family photo albums, listening to holiday music, doing crafts and enjoying other relaxing activities.
Holiday countdown. Take a 3″ by 3′ strip of ribbon and cut 24 pairs of slits from top to bottom. Thread each pair with a narrow ribbon and tie a sucker in each. Beginning December 1, remove a lollipop each day through Christmas Eve, or the eve of the holiday you celebrate.
Romantic evening. Couples often forget to take time out for each other during the busy holiday season. Plan an evening for two and reserve a table near a fireplace or a different romantic setting. When you return home, light some candles and your tree, listen to holiday or soft music and exchange a special gift with each other. Then spend the evening reminiscing and sharing your dreams for the future.
Cut your own tree. Take the whole family to a tree farm and make a day of it. Look for the perfect tree to complement your home or fit your family’s taste.
International customs. Pick up a book on holiday customs around the world. Each year, choose a different culture or nationality for your theme, to observe respectfully. Then decorate and try new traditions accordingly.
Shopping date. Make a date with your partner or a friend and assist each other in selecting your holiday attire. Decide in advance on the formality and wear complementary outfits.
Just for you
Pamper yourself. Decorate the bathroom in holiday candles, fragrance and holly. Throw on some holiday or other relaxing music. Then enjoy a long bubble bath and give yourself a full salon treatment. Include a manicure, pedicure, deep hair conditioning, facial mask and body buff.
Traditions for all
Stockings for adults. Fill stockings for your partner, parents or grandparents to discover. Stuff them with treats, beauty products, postage stamps, lottery tickets and other inexpensive or usable items.
Help a family in need. Deliver a box of groceries or supply a family with gloves and hats. While asking your kiddos to donate their good, unwanted toys can be great the rest of the year, for the winter holidays it’s an extra-special treasure for children in need to receive brand-new toys. Drop them off with the family “from Santa” or wrap them yourselves and leave them on the doorstep.
Take a horse-drawn carriage ride. Don’t forget blankets and your favorite hot beverage for warming your lips and hands.
A special ornament. Buy a new tree ornament each year that signifies something important, such as your baby’s first Christmas or solstice. If it’s your first season in a new home, find an ornament that represents it.
Homemade wrapping paper. Get a roll of brown kraft paper. Then cut holiday shapes out of sponges, dip them in holiday-colored paint and stamp the shapes onto the paper. Use glitter and glue to add to the festive look.
- Discontinue holiday traditions that have lost their appeal and usefulness or that create too much stress. Talk to your family members or friends who share in the tradition, explain your feelings and ask for input. They may feel the same. Even if they don’t, you can try to reach a compromise that satisfies everyone.
- Don’t overdo it. It’s easy to get carried away with customs. Be selective and choose those that mean the most to you and your family. Most traditions require some investment of time, energy or money: be sure you’re getting a good return on your investment!
- When you choose traditions, divide the responsibilities. Women often take sole responsibility for holiday activities, which can be overwhelming and interfere with their ability to really enjoy the season. So try not to strive for perfection and encourage men and children to help in the preparation.
By keeping these tips in mind and being flexible, you and your family can enjoy holiday traditions for years to come.