40 Holiday Traditions to Start this Year

. November 30, 2015.

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.