The holidays are always a special time of the year, but part of what makes it so magical is the people that we get to spend it with and the traditions that live on. Every family has their own unique way to celebrate, from Christmas activities that range from counting down the days with advent calendars to baking festive Christmas cookies, there are so many Christmas traditions to partake in.
If you are looking for new ways to make memories with the ones you love, Good Housekeeping editors and contributors are sharing some of their favorite Christmas traditions that are near and dear. Although Christmas is celebrated differently around the world, a lot of traditions share a common ground such as making traditional Christmas foods based on your region and decorating for the holidays. Some of our favorite holiday traditions that you’ll find on this list includes sing your favorite Christmas songs, binging Christmas movies or making homemade ornaments to cherish for years to come.
So, if you are wanting to start a new Christmas tradition this year, there is no doubt that you’ll find a winning idea from our list of unique ways to celebrate the holidays.
1- Go Ice Skating: There is no activity quite like ice skating to get you in the holiday mood. Make it a tradition every year to lace up your skates for a fun outing with the family. Plus, you’ll likely get to see a grand Christmas tree and listen to festive music while hitting the ice.
2- Make Hot Chocolate: Skip the instant hot chocolate packets and make a decadent hot cocoa that is extra special for the holidays. Kids will love sipping on this sweet treat and adults can make a boozy hot chocolate with bourbon or rye.
3- DIY Advent Calendar: Sure, you can buy an advent calendar based on your kids’ favorite activities and watch with joy as they get a new goodie each day. But it’s even more fun to make your own. “Each year we fill an advent calendar for my son with tiny toys, sweets and notes promising trips to his favorite bakery,” says Jacquelyn Rodgers, Founder at Greentop Gifts. Try this: Fill 24 advent calendar bags, boxes or drawers with love notes, candy, small toys or ideas for good deeds they can do that day to spread good cheer. Or, keep special ornaments aside in a box and add a new one to the tree each morning!
4- Go All Out for Christmas Eve Dinner: Some families do a Feast of the Seven Fishes, a Southern Italian tradition that likely started due to the Roman Catholic mandate to abstain from meat on Christmas Eve. “We start with fried smelts with a squeeze of lemon juice and scungilli salad,” says Alyssa Jung, senior editor for the Hearst Health Newsroom. “For dinner, we have baccala, or salted cod; roasted shrimp scampi; jumbo pesto scallops; stuffed squid; and spaghetti aglio e olio. This is the one and only time we eat these foods. It’s my favorite meal of the year!” If they don’t do the Feast of the Seven Fishes, other families might do a Polish wigilia, a Sweidsh julbord or just some of their favorite passed-down recipes, but the end result is the same: food coma.
5- Decorate the Tree With Special Ornaments: When it comes time to trim the tree, find a way to commemorate a milestone or memory from the past year. “One of my favorite holiday traditions is adding to our ornament collection,” says Jeanine Hays, writer, interior and product designer of AphroChic. “In the past, ornaments have been from a place we’d traveled or a gift from a dear friend. This year we are adding Black Panther to our tree. I love knowing that each year our tree reveals a little bit more about our family and our heritage.” Making handmade ornaments together is another way to sneak some bonding time into a busy time of year.
6- Make Christmas Breakfast: Opening up all those presents sure whips up an appetite. If you can tear the kids away from their new toys for a minute, have everyone help out in the kitchen and make breakfast. (Put the little ones in charge of the toast.) “My family does a big brunch of eggs Benedict every year,” says writer Chelsea Frisbie. “My mom makes it super lemony just like we like it, and we stay in our pajamas all day.” “Since I’ve begun hosting holidays, I’ve started my own tradition of preparing a festive waffle bar brunch for my family and friends,” says Nicole Gibbons. Who would turn down that invite?
7- Take a Family Holiday Photo: True, we all walk around with cameras in our pockets and take more photos now than ever before — but how often do you really stop to make sure you get everyone in the same picture, all spiffed up and looking at the camera at the same time? Probably only once or twice a year, so go all-out when it comes to the yearly holiday photo. Costumes, matching outfits, props — the sky’s the limit!
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