Much of what makes the holiday season so special is the traditions that people hold dear. While many families have traditions that date back decades, there is plenty of opportunity to embrace unique means of celebration to breathe new life into Christmas, Chanukah or the season’s other holidays.
Most families already hang stockings and go caroling. Here are some new holiday twists to throw in the mix:
• Feed the wildlife. During the cold days of winter, birds and small animals that don’t hibernate may find it difficult to forage for food. Trimming an outdoor pine tree in snacks creates a beautiful tree that benefits wildlife. String peanuts and other nuts for squirrels. Make little ornaments out of suet and string them for the birds. Berries and corn can be enjoyed by all. Be sure to choose a tree that is far enough away from the home, so scavengers don’t hunt and peck around the house.
• Create a photo Advent calendar. Make an Advent calendar that has small doors that open up to photos of different family members. Or use a collection of children’s pictures that showcase how they’ve changed as they’ve grown older.
• “Adopt” a child for holiday gifts. Purchasing a present for an underprivileged child is guaranteed to put smiles on the faces of the giver and the receiver. Some post offices sponsor “Letters from Santa” events where participants can respond to one of the thousands of letters mailed to The North Pole. Or work with a local charity that organizes events to bring gifts to children in hospitals or in foster care.
• Holiday story countdown. Every night in December, watch a movie or read a story that tells an uplifting holiday tale. Use this as a method of counting down until Christmas. On the night prior, reading “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” should suffice.
• Remember someone who has passed on. The holiday season is one made beautiful by lit candles and twinkling lights. Remember a loved one or a friend who has passed away by lighting a remembrance candle in his or her honor. It’s a way this person can still be part of the festivities.
• Have a holiday sing-a-long. Sure it may be tradition to go around the neighborhood singing carols, but it’s just as fun indoors. Have a singing party where guests are given lyrics to popular tunes they can sing around the piano or karaoke machine.
• Bring some joy to a public servant. Police officers, firefighters and military personnel do not get to enjoy days off for the holidays. There are a certain number of public servants who must remain on call in the event of an emergency. Treat these people to something enjoyable when they may be missing their own festivities. Cook or cater a meal for a fire house, deliver cookies to the police station or put together care packages for people living on a military base.
• Banish the holiday blues. When the holidays are over, many people find they become a little down. After all, a home that once was filled with merry trinkets may now go back to bare essentials. Create a tradition where everyone in the family receives one more gift — a personalized ornament that can be packed away for use next year — that’s given in January before the decorations are packed away. It’s another opportunity to open a present, and it symbolizes looking forward to the joy of next year.