Holiday Traditions

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The holiday season is a time to build lifelong memories with your family. The giving and the gathering, the rituals that connect us to one another and the past…Traditions help you bond and reconnect with loved ones, friends, and neighbors. Through the generations, these Holiday rituals can be refreshed, reinvented, or created new. With the holidays upon us, we have a complete list of traditions to inspire your own holiday memories and make the season a little brighter!

Holiday FOOD-FOC– — USED
Traditions Make traditional dishes for your holiday meals that include foods from your culture or foods you ate growing up. Ask for recipes from relatives to keep your family food traditions alive. Organize a cookie-baking party and ask everyone to bring their favorite holiday cookie recipe. Invite friends and family, or a group of your kids’ friends. Make the same entree for Christmas Eve (such as a gumbo) and Christmas Day (ham or turkey) every year. Or, make it a tradition to cook up something different every year. Make Thanksgiving or Christmas a potluck. Make a feast list, and get sign-ups from family members. Make a gingerbread house with your family. Buy a pre-made set, or start from scratch.

NEIGHBORHOOD and COMMUNITY TRADITIONS
Get a handful of friends together and go caroling. You’ll be surprised by how well received your singing group is, even if you’re out of tune! Take in a local production of ‘The Nutcracker,’ ‘A Christmas Carol,’ or another holiday-themed show. Check out holiday lights in your area. Whip up a batch of hot chocolate, hop in the car, turn on your holiday playlist, and peruse the houses in nearby neighborhoods. Sit on Santa’s lap for a visit- no matter how old the kids are! Go sledding, ice skating, partake in a neighborhood football game, or another outdoor activity. Thanksgiving and Christmasday are perfect for family fun activities- after the gifts are opened, the meal is eaten, and everyone is getting antsy from being inside.

AROUND THE Home Holiday TRADITIONS
Start the ‘Elf on a Shelf’ tradition. The kids will love it and it will keep them on their best behavior! Read holiday books before bed each night; ‘The Polar Express’, ‘Santa Mouse’, and ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ are all excellent tales to boost your family’s holiday spirit. Cut down your own Christmas tree at a tree farm. At home, decorate it as a family. Don’t forget the Eggnog, hot chocolate, and treats! Create a holiday playlist that your family listens to in the car or at home every year- add 3 new songs to the end of the list each year for the following year. Make a movie date. Set aside one night each week to watch a holiday classic, such as “Miracle on 34th Street” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Start an ‘I Am Thankful’ list in November. Have every family member add one thing they are thankful for each day. Write your thankful lists on a paper Christmas tree or snowflake and then use them in your home as part of your holiday decor. Have a Christmas tree camp out one night in the family room. Keep the tree lights on, read holiday stories, listen to music, and snack on holiday treats.

t3Christmas Eve TRADITIONS
Open one gift on Christmas Eve. Track Santa’s progress across the globe on NORAD every hour. Make reindeer food on Christmas Eve (oats and candy sprinkles) and toss it on the lawn for Santa’s team of reindeer. Read ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas’ at bedtime. Leave a ‘trail’ of gifts from the chimney to the tree to show Santa’s route in the house.


GIVING BACK Holiday Traditions

Volunteer your time as a family at a soup kitchen or a food bank. Find a giving tree or organization to sponsor a family in need, or purchase toys for children in need. Let your kids pick out the gifts to give. Each year, donate last year’s winter coat to a local shelter, or coat drive. Hold a book drive. Ask coworkers, friends, neighbors, and family to donate children’s books that you can give to your local library, elementary school, or family shelter. Deliver cookies and treats to your local fire station, police department, and hospital. Don’t forget senior citizens! Volunteer at your local senior citizens center, or see if there is a giving tree specifically for the residents.

Holiday Gift TRADITIONS
Draw names in your immediate family and make- not purchase- a gift for that person. It can be as easy as a playlist for an MP3 player or a photobook of your family’s greatest moments of the year. Make a shopping tradition! Spend a day, and possibly a night, in the nearest city with your Mom, sister, or other family members, and do some holiday shopping and bonding. Start a gag gift tradition. Give a funny gift to a family member. Each year, pass the gift on to another unsuspecting family member. Pass on family heirlooms as gifts to children and siblings.

t2Christmas Eve TRADITIONS 
Open one gift on Christmas Eve. Track Santa’s progress across the globe on NORAD every hour. Make reindeer food on Christmas Eve (oats and candy sprinkles) and toss it on the lawn for Santa’s team of reindeer. Read ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas’ at bedtime. Leave a ‘trail’ of gifts from the chimney to the tree to show Santa’s route in the house.

Christmas MORNING/DAY Traditions
Open all the gifts under the tree at 12:01 a.m. on Christmas Day. (This works best with older kids and teens.) Don’t open presents until after religious services or brunch. Designate a family member at random to pass out gifts to everyone each year. Call or have a video chat with loved ones who aren’t able to be with your family. Invite family, friends, and neighbors over Christmas evening for games, dessert, and to decompress from the holiday. Go out for Christmas breakfast in your pajamas!

 

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