Making the Most of Your Holiday Season
By Kimberly Boney
Treasured TraditionsDecember 2015
By Kimberly Boney
Glittered ornaments, shining lights, gift giving and holiday soirées en masse—this is the stuff that Christmas is made of. But those tangible, palpable things are only a fraction thereof. Warm holiday traditions, ones that showcase the love of family and friends, the ones that help us to extend our hand to a stranger, the ones that remind us to stop to enjoy the laughter of a child, ones that are carried on through generations or those that are born into your family – those are the parts of Christmas we can carry in our hearts all year long. Here are six of our favorite holiday traditions to consider adding to your repertoire.
Scout out the perfect tree:
We don’t often give a second thought to running down to the pop-up Christmas tree lot or local hardware giant and paying big bucks for a top-notch evergreen. While these are perfectly viable options for finding a beautiful Christmas tree, they are not the only options in the North State. Pick up a permit for $10 at your local Forest Service location (visit www.fs.usda.gov/stnf for more information). Set aside a full day for a Christmas tree hunt. Grab your cold weather garb (snow boots, gloves and extra socks are a must), a saw, a tape measure (trees have a way of looking much bigger in your home than they do in the forest!), rope and bungee cords. Pack a lunch, snacks and a container full of hot apple cider and caravan your way to a fun-filled adventure in the trees. Bonus: bring a sled, snowshoes or an innertube and play in the snow - after you’ve rounded up the perfect conifer, that is.
Pick out a few new pretties for your tree:
What better way to document your year’s most memorable experiences than to find ornaments that represent them? Go out for hot chocolate and then buzz around town and allow each member of the family to purchase an ornament. Set a budget and get creative with where you find them. Plenty of big-box stores have a lovely assortment (many of them are on sale, too), but some local shops carry specialty ones that you aren’t likely to find anywhere else. If your family is the crafty type, whip out the craft supplies and make ornaments. Either way, it’ll be a sweet memory maker.
Trim your tree with laughter and love:
Let’s face it: Decorating your tree can either be a chore or a blessing. It’s all about perspective. Make it a joyful experience by having everyone participate. Let the tallest members of the family string the lights, while the little ones are responsible for decorating the lower branches. Make an old-school popcorn garland to adorn your tannenbaum. Bake some cookies to munch on while you decorate, play your favorite holiday tunes, dress in your funkiest holiday socks or pajamas, wear reindeer ears or Santa hats. As cheesy as it may seem, those quirky little traditions are what stay with us most through the years.
Host a warm and fuzzy holiday gathering:
out in the kitchen to spend quality time with your guests. Have party attendees bring their favorite hors d’oeuvres and a libation to share. Invite your guests to participate in a gift exchange. Set a theme (a special holiday ornament, a gag gift or a gift card for a specific dollar amount) and ask guests to adhere to budget so the game is fair. Have each guest share a special holiday memory before they select a gift. You’ll likely learn something you didn’t know before about your friends and family.
Create a "Night Before Christmas" box for each member of the family:
Help satiate everyone’s urge to pounce on the pile of gifts before Christmas morning by allowing everyone to open just one gift the night before. Each box could include snuggly pajamas, cozy socks, a cool mug for cocoa, popcorn, a holiday-themed book, movie or album, gift cards for Christmas Eve dinner and our personal favorite, an “ADMIT ONE: Round Trip Pass on the Mom & Dad Express” coupon to take the kids on a tour of the town to see it lit up in all of its Christmas glory. A holiday-themed photo/memory box is a great way to package the gift without having to use wrapping paper. It’ll double as a place to safely keep your ornaments and other holiday treasures until next year.
Give of your heart:
We all have that special neighbor who goes above and beyond all year long to be kind to us, or the clerk at our favorite supermarket who knows us by name and makes our day better the moment we hit her line. Or maybe we’ve noticed the man or woman on the street corner who doesn’t seem to be warm enough in the brisk night air.
Take this opportunity to do something they’ll never forget. Drop off a basket of goodies at your neighbor’s house and have your family sing a carol favorite as you make your delivery. Surprise the clerk with a jar of your delicious homemade cranberry sauce or an ornament for her tree. Bring a coat, a blanket and a pillow to the man or woman who needs it. Kindness and love—It’s the reason for the season, after all.