The holiday season gives us plenty of opportunities to kick off a new tradition. By doing something that creates and rekindles memories year after year, you are building a family custom. Consider these ideas to freshen up the holidays in your family.
Be of service:
- Play board games with residents at the senior center
- Prepare a meal for the families at Ronald McDonald House
- Fill a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child
- Stock shelves at the local food pantry
- Make a double batch of tonight’s dinner and share it with a friend.
- Prepare bagged lunches at the homeless shelter
- Make no-sew blankets for hospitals or nursing homes.
- Start a book drive in your area and donate the books to local shelters and children’s hospitals
- Make an Advent calendar that includes a random act of kindness to carry out each day.
- Go caroling with friends and take up a collection for your favorite charity.
Learn something new:
- Attend a holiday service at a different place of worship.
- Research holiday traditions from your ethnic background and add one to your current day celebration.
- Read a different holiday story each night – find a mix of old favorites and new reads.
- Sit down with the family to discuss their New Year’s Resolutions.
- Try a traditional holiday recipe from a different country every year.
- Take a trip down Memory Lane:
- Start a holiday journal. Encourage everyone to write down their holiday memories from this year and add new pages next year.
- Call the friends on your holiday card list with whom you have lost touch.
- Watch home movies of past holiday celebrations.
- Take a family picture in the same spot every year and add the picture to an album that you display during the holidays.
- Buy a white table cloth that you can write on. Write messages or draw pictures each year to create a wonderful keepsake.
Make something together:
- Build a Gingerbread house – from scratch or from a kit.
- Create a homemade gift for someone each year.
- Design a Christmas time capsule to be put away in your holiday boxes.
- Make an outdoor Christmas tree for the birds by stringing popcorn, dried fruit and bread or add bird seed ornaments made with seed, nuts and gelatin.
- Bake cookies, make candy or put together Gifts in a Jar to share with your neighbors.
- Holiday Purchases:
- Purchase a new ornament each year for each child representing something about him that year or buy an ornament from each vacation spot and add that to your collection.
- Give your family the gift of pajamas to be opened on Christmas Eve.
- Buy a new board game to add to your arsenal for family game night.
- Start a collection of holiday decorations like snowmen, snow globes or illuminated houses and add to it each year.
- Get a new holiday DVD every year and watch your collection grow.
Have some fun:
- Host an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party
- Purchase an Elf on a Shelf and set him up in different situations each night.
- Plan a couple of evenings to watch holiday movies together. Add it to the calendar so everyone can look forward to it.
- Leave out shoes for St. Nicholas Day
- Play holiday decoration bingo as you drive around and mark off things like a blow up snowman, a house with all red lights or a menorah in the window.
- Host a cookie exchange
- Re-gift the same gift over and over and see who ends up with it this year.
- Have a Christmas Carol Karaoke Night
- Host a holiday-themed Favorite Things Party
- Play holiday versions of games like Scattergories, Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary or Minute to Win It.
Pam Molnar is a freelance writer and mother of two teens and a tween.
Her family hopes to add a few of these traditions to their holiday celebration this year.