Christmas really is a wonderful time of the year for improving holiday family traditions or starting new ones that can be passed on from generation to generation. While this article is definitely geared toward the American family, it doesn't mean that couples can't participate in many of the suggestions below. I even encourage people who are alone during the holidays to try a few of the suggestions (perhaps by volunteering). I really hope you try a few of these if you haven't done so before. Happy holidays.
• DVD Marathon: Going out together to rent a bunch of DVDs and buying some snacks are just as much a part of this bonding process as watching the movies.
• Cooking Together: This could be anything to making rice crispy treats, cookies, or reindeer droppings (chocolate covered marshmallows) to actually cooking the big holiday feast. It's really fun and don't get stressed if something burns or gets dropped, you'll laugh about it later on.
• Buying The Tree: Going to a tree farm is a blast for kids, just make sure it's not too big. Best to take a tape measure with you. You can buy one in a store as well, it's just a matter of personal taste.
• Drawing Names: If you have a large family then drawing names for Christmas gifts is the way to go. During tough economic times you could even put an insanely low price limit (say $5) on the gift and have fun seeing what people decided to buy each other.
• Decorating The Tree: This is one of those things that families do but don't remember until later on. My favorite moment is lifting the kids up to place the star on the very top of the tree.
• Popcorn Garland: Stringing popcorn on thread is an old tradition that isn't as popular today, but nice to do every now and then.
• Candy Canes: Hand out small ones with your child to people you know, like a church, or you could even hand them out to strangers in a parking lot in front of a store. Parent and child can even dress up if they want.
• Snow: Playing in the snow can always be fun but how you play should depend on how old you are. Snow angels and snow men are perfect things to do with kids of all ages. Now that I'm a little older snowball fights make me a little nervous. Sometimes the ball can freeze so hard while in the air that it can cause concussions. Snow sledding is another tradition that can be enjoyed by all but the youngest of children, just watch out for traffic in your near a road.
• Hand Made Ornaments: Painting or making your own Christmas tree ornaments is pretty easy these days and a lot of fun to do with kids. Just visit an arts and craft store like Hobby Lobby and pick up some stuff. Kids will enjoy this just as much as they enjoy painting Easter eggs.
• Buying Ornaments: Picking out a special ornament each year to put on the tree if you have kids can turn into a yearly tradition until they move out of the house. Let them pick it out as it shows what they are interested in. If you don't have kids just pick out an ornament that means something to you.
• Ice Skating: After it gets cold enough all ice skating should take place outside. It just seems natural.
• Letter to Santa: If you have kids sit down with them and help them write and mail a letter to Santa. You may even want to write back to them (kids love to get mail).
• See The Sights: Drive around in your car to see the Christmas light decorations. Listen to some Christmas songs on the radio while you're doing it.
• Hot Chocolate: On cold winter days it just makes you feel good.
• Playing Board Games: I remember a Thanksgiving where the power went out and everyone sat down and played a game of Monopoly until it came back on. It's a good memory.
• Stories: I love reading or being read the story, The Night Before Christmas, on Christmas Eve.
• Make Christmas Cards or Gift Coupons: These can be done seriously or with a sense of humor.
• The Opening of the Presents: I never get tired of it because of the kids. There's nothing like seeing that excitement on their face when tearing off the paper and the joy when they see what's inside. I even remember opening presents back when I was a child and feeling the exact same way.
• Go to a Holiday Event: Parades are the most popular events around this time, but there are others.
• Sending Christmas Cards: My mother does this every year regardless of the circumstances. She takes the cards that she receives and tapes them up along the entrance to the living room. It's a shame a lot of younger people aren't taking more time to send cards.
• Christmas Carols: Do you have to have a good singing voice to do this?
• Snacks: Leaving cookies and milk out for Santa and carrots outside for the reindeer.
• Left Behind: Leaving a Santa hat behind for the kids to find and then let them mail it back to him. You might even write a "thank you note from Santa" and send it back to the child.
• Mistletoe: Kiss, kiss.
• Volunteer: Volunteering somewhere during the holidays will not only make others smile, but also help you grow closer to your fellow man (and woman). It's a good thing to do, and if you are alone and depressed, just may keep you alive.
• Football: This may be more popular to guys, but not always. I have fond memories of sitting and watching a game with friends when weather turns cold.
• Making a Wish: Save the wishbone from the turkey and find someone to break it with you. The one who gets the larger piece also gets a wish. This is a very old tradition dating back hundreds of years.
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Photo by Kris De Curtis on Flickr
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