25 Ideas for Starting Holiday Traditions with Your New Family

star-tree-lights-gold-christmasI don’t know about you, but it feels like the holidays have a tendency to zip by and around the start of the year I’m left with a whole lot of good intentions. So, my husband and I’ve decided that each year we’re going to add one new holiday tradition to our list, which feels manageable while setting us off on the right track. By the time we’ve been married ten years, we’ll have this holiday thing totally down…

To get us all started here’s a list of 25 ideas for starting your own holiday traditions, none of which cost a lot of time or money (and are pretty much guaranteed to get you in the holiday spirit!).

1. Countdown to the holidays with an advent calendar. If you’re the crafty sort, make your own with Purl Bee’s easy-to-follow template or brighten your walls with Kristen Doran’s screen-printed version. Of course, the old chocolate ones work just fine too…

2. Get a group of friends together and go caroling. You’d be surprised that even if you can’t sing, how much your neighbors will enjoy it.

3. Host a gingerbread house-making party. You can provide the walls of the house; have your friends each bring a candy to use for decoration.

4. Give a gift to a child in need. Toys for Tots currently doesn’t have enough toys to fulfill all their commitments to hospitals and non-profits; you can drop off toys at your local Starbucks or at their many drop-off locations.

5. There’s nothing quite like a house with thousands of lights, huge wreaths and inflatable reindeer. Take a drive and remember the wonder of the season with a look at your neighborhood’s Christmas lights. Or take a gander at these online versions.

6. Snuggle up on the couch and watch “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

7. You are never too old (or big) to have a chat with the Jolly Man. Head to the mall and tell Santa what you’d like for Christmas.

8. Take an evening out of your busy schedule to volunteer and serve dinner to folks less fortunate.

9. Watch “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas”, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” or “Charlie Brown’s Christmas” and remember how it felt to see them for the first time…

10. Get into the holiday spirit by wrapping your presents to holiday tunes (personally, I never tire of Harry’s Christmas album while Kristen Chenoweth’s is a new fave).

11. Decorate your tree the old-fashioned way, by stringing popcorn and cranberries.

12. Surprise your neighbors by leaving a batch of cookies or a poinsetta on their front porch.

13. Whip up a batch of homemade cider or eggnog and toast all the things you’re grateful for.

14. Build a record of your life together on your tree. Buy your fiancé an ornament that represents a special event or happening from the year (a wedding, perhaps?).

15. Take a break from the crowds at the mall and do some of your holiday shopping at local craft shows.

16. Don’t let your spare change go to waste. Make it a habit to always drop some change into the Salvation Army’s Santa buckets.

17. Call up one person you’ve been meaning to talk to this year and wish them a “Happy Holidays.”

18. Try out an English tradition and share Christmas crackers with your dinner guests, which result in cheesy toys and paper crowns.

19. Take the afternoon off of work (and the holidays) and see one movie you’ve been dying to see (’tis the season for great movies right now!).

20. Borrow a child (niece or nephew, friend’s little one) and decorate sugar cookies with an over-the-top amount of sprinkles and frosting.

21. Finally do something with all of your digital photos. Once a year create a photo album that chronicles all the big highlights (we toss our photos into the iPhoto version – it’s quick and easy to do!).

22. Send out out-of-town friends a special treat by filling these homemade Christmas boxes with caramels (Melissa also includes a recipe for the caramels if you’re feeling really fancy!).

23. Who doesn’t love to get some extra mileage out of their sequined Santa sweater? Host an Ugly Sweater Contest where the winner gets, what else? An ugly sweater.

24. Even if you live in a warm climate, there are usually outdoor ice skating rinks set up for the holidays. Lace up your skates and take a few laps.

25. Decide that the best way to get through the season is to just relax. Order in some take-out, put your feet up, and have an evening in with the one you love.

Photo by Murakami Photography

about the author
Kara Kara is happily married in San Francisco where she occasionally stalks brides and tries to convince them to wear wedding dresses she wishes she could wear herself. She loves sales at Anthropologie, afternoon dance parties with her kids, and encouraging people to talk in funny accents.

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