Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, 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.
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, enjoying holiday music, doing crafts, and other relaxing activities.
Start a holiday countdown for your grandkids. Take a 3” by 3’ strip of ribbon and cut 24-paired slits from top to bottom. Thread each pair with a narrow ribbon and tie a sucker in each. Beginning December 1st, your grandchild can remove a lollipop each day through Christmas Eve, or the eve of the holiday you celebrate.
Cut your own tree. Take the whole family to a tree farm and make a day of it. Look for the perfect tree to compliment your home, or that fits 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. Then decorate and try new traditions accordingly.
TRADITIONS FOR ALL
Stockings for adults. Fill stockings for your partner, parents, or grown kids to discover. Stuff them with treats, beauty products, postage stamps, lottery tickets, and other inexpensive or usable items.
Help a needy family. Deliver a box of groceries, or supply a family with gloves and hats. Ask your grandchildren (with their parents’ approval) to make room for their own new gifts by donating good, unwanted toys. Offer the toys to the needy family to leave from Santa, or wrap them yourself 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 grandbaby’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. Taking on too many can cause stress and lead traditions to lose their appeal.
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 allow 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.
Kimberly Blaker is a freelance writer. She also owns an online bookshop, Sage Rare & Collectible Books, specializing in out-of-print, scarce, signed, and first editions; fine bindings; ephemera and more at sagerarebooks.com
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