Make the season merrier with new holiday traditions
How many of your holiday traditions exist because "we've always done it that way?" If you could choose which ones to keep or toss, what would you decide? It's okay to reconsider anything that feels like it takes up more time, money, effort or calories than it's worth.
Traditions to review:
• "Must haves" at dinner. Turkey isn't hard to make, but all the things that go with it (potatoes, gravy, cranberries, stuffing) start to add up. You can enjoy family time just as much with a spiral-sliced ham served with rolls and a salad. Or try a new global cuisine each year. As much as they might protest, Aunt Martha will survive without a tablespoon of the yams that take hours to prepare, and your brother doesn't need pie, Christmas cake and ten kinds of cookies (unless he makes them himself).
• Over-the-top shopping and gifting. Many families are relieved when someone proposes a Secret Santa or gifts just for the kids. Some couples have a lot of fun seeing what they can get for a very low limit—say, $20. You could decide to give only books or experiences. No matter how you do it, cutting down on the list means you can be really thoughtful about the gifts you do buy.
New holiday traditions to consider:
• Build in an event. Take some of the focus off the meal with a walk or drive to look at holiday lights, caroling around the neighborhood, ice skating, or a visit to a soup kitchen. Make it the same every year or challenge everyone to come up with new ideas.
• Bake and decorate together. Invite friends or family and make a night of it. Bake everyone's favorites or buy a dozen gingerbread house kits, assign a theme and hold a decorating contest. Just make it fun.
• Review the year. Go around the table and ask everyone about the best thing that happened to them this year. It's a great way to focus on what's right in your world.
• Assign clean-up to any kids at the table. This may not sound as merry as caroling, but too many traditions revolve around making work for the grown-ups. Even the youngest can help clear the table and put things away. Reward them with dessert or opening presents.
• Make it silly. Hide a trinket on the tree. Give the person who cuts the pumpkin pie a spoonful of whipped cream on the nose. Wrap a few gag gifts. Host a pajamas-only dinner. And then do it again next year.
• Create a solo tradition. If you're on your own for the holidays or if you're surrounded by a cast of thousands, do something for you. Treat yourself to a new book or a pedicure. Go to a play or out for high tea. Call an old friend out of the blue. Carve out some space to enjoy your own company. Breathe.
What holiday traditions do you want to start, keep or lose? Tell the community on our Facebook page.