On our weekly Zoom the other day, Emily asked about our family holiday traditions and if we should write about them. Em had some fun ones but for the rest of us, we didn’t really feel that any of our traditions were all that creative (even if they are special to us). That’s when we thought we’d pose the question on Instagram and report back. As always we got some great responses and I know at least for me, I will be implementing some now and some others if and when I have kids in the future. Actually, writing this post had an unexpectedly big impact on me. Since the pandemic (and maybe a little before too), I’ve felt kinda neutral about the holiday season. There’s always a really fun White Elephant party I look forward to and I pick out Christmas trees with one of my best friends but aside from that, I don’t really have any other traditions until I get with my family a day or two before Christmas. I’m realizing as I’m typing this that I need to make more of an effort to create actual holiday season traditions I love to maybe get back some authentic holiday excitement. It’s all about spending time with the people you love right? Decorations can only get you so far. I didn’t mean for this to take a kind of depressing turn but if anyone else has been having a hard time feeling that holiday magic, I think this could be a solid way to help. So let’s get into these really great ideas that maybe you to can add to your December:)
The Holiday Season
Soup Night (with 2-4 soups) – I don’t have to tell you that this is very EHD-approved and would be so fun! What’s better than a potluck soup night?! And if you like this idea for just your immediate family, I think it would be so cute to break up into teams and have a taste contest. Oh and maybe everyone could have a special bowl they look forward to using every year. Just an idea:)
Fondue Night – I was kinda surprised by how many people said fondue but also not because it’s so fun. I’ll never forget the first time I was introduced to it because it blew my mind! Dipping things in cheese and then later into chocolate?! I love how easy and interactive it is. It’s pretty impossible not to have a good time around a fondue pot.
Port and Pie Night – So the reader that sent in this AMAZING tradition does it after Thanksgiving. However, I think this could easily be done as a stand-alone event where everyone brings a pie and a bottle of port wine to someone’s house. This could also be a fun, no-stress thing to do after Christmas where everyone can talk about how their holidays went:)
Pizza and Champagne Party – I am looking at my calendar as we speak to figure out when my friends and I can do this and make it a tradition! Not super little kid-friendly but for the older kids, this is such a fun idea that feels both special and easy. 10/10
Craft Night to Make Place-Setting Gifts – What a fun and sweet thing to craft! I would love to sit down at a holiday dinner with meaningful handmade gifts just for me. And that’s even before all of the delicious food. How can you not have a great meal after such a special start??
Wrapping Paper Tube Fight – While Emily is writing another post about wrapping paper and how she’s trying to move away from it, sometimes using it is inevitable. So might as well make use of the tubes and have a fun family tube fight! You could even decorate them before if you also want to get crafty:)
Read-A-Thon for a Few Days with Casseroles – I envy this family! What a sweet tradition. This may not work for every family but if you have a book-loving crew, this is a perfect way to get cozy next to the fireplace.
Book Advent Calendar and Read with Family – Speaking of books, creating a book-themed advent calendar is another great way to incorporate that fun countdown with quality family time instead of a little sugar rush.
Advent(ure) Calendar – I also think this is such a cool idea for an advent calendar that also promotes family time but does take way more planning. But if you have the bandwidth, you could do things like ice skating, cooking decorating, sledding, etc.
Projector Movie in the Driveway: Elf and Diehard – This one is for people who live in warmer climates but annual outdoor movie nights are just fun and I would for sure look forward to this (especially if there’s hot chocolate involved).
Bowling – Bowling was a BIG tradition that lots of people submitted and something my family never did (but I would have loved to). Some do it after Thanksgiving, some on Christmas Eve, some on the day after Christmas, etc. Basically, it sounds like a really fun and easy activity that’s great for any size family.
3-Day Ping Pong Tournament – Keeping with the competitive sporting events, I thought this was fun and not your average holiday tradition. It’s also great since it can be an indoor activity and it’s cold outside in most places. If you don’t have a ping pong set up then you could do something like pickleball or chess or UNO or any game your family likes to play together. I wonder what the winner gets??
“Memory of the Year” Ornaments with FIMO Clay – I know Emily loves making ornaments with her kids and this idea, in particular, is really special since it helps everyone get really creative and get to go over all of the happy things that happened over the year. The only problem is just choosing one:)
Surprise Adventure Night – This one is right up my alley since my friends and I did a version of this for all of our 16th birthdays. Ok, so this reader says that they put the kids to bed then after they’re asleep for a bit they bang on pots and pans to wake them up to go on a late-night adventure. It’s great because you can pick any night and then maybe have either a scavenger hunt, go to a late-night movie, eat dessert at a 24-hour diner, etc. The possibilities are endless!
Sleeping “Under the Tree” or “Christmas Adam” – Ok, so I’ve never heard of “Christmas Adam” before this but apparently it’s the night before Christmas Eve and you do fun holiday activities. But overwhelmingly the activity was sleeping under (or near) the Christmas tree. Some readers even bring their mattresses out into their living rooms. I love how easy and magical this is. If and when I have kids we will absolutely be doing this.
Decorate a Tree in the Woods with Birdseed Ornaments – This tradition is actually one reader’s Thanksgiving tradition but I think it’s also perfect for any time during the holiday season. So they take a family hike and then decorate one of the trees with birdseed ornaments. My heart melted and I thought., “Oh, Emily is going to love this one.” I was correct:) Now I’m not sure if they make the ornaments but that would be a fun additional activity for this cute tradition!
LCR Game After Dinner – This was also a Thanksgiving tradition (it’s one of mine as well) but it’s SO FUN, especially if you have a big group. It’s an easy dice game where everyone brings three of the same decided-upon tender (we do three $1 bills) and then by the end one person wins the whole pot. What I also love about LCR is that no one is out until the very last roll so everyone is engaged the whole time. 1000/10
A Themed Local Bar Night – This one is more for those without children but an annual themed night at a bar can be extremely fun (as long as you manage your consumption so you are still able to enjoy Christmas Day:)) One reader goes to their local small-town bar for their open mic night Christmas pageant and happily enjoys tacos and margaritas. I would love an invite, thank you.
Breakfast for Dinner – I will never say no to breakfast for dinner because it’s the best! Whenever my mom would surprise us with breakfast for dinner it literally felt like Christmas so this is a “YES!” in my book.
Chicago Deep Dish – Since Les Bunge is from Chicago my love for deep dish pizza is lifelong. If you don’t live in Chicago and like this idea may I suggest getting Lou Malnati’s shipped to you? You’ll thank me later. Oh, maybe I’ll order some for my pizza and champagne party…
Bread Bowls and Soups – Take me back to my San Francisco days! Eating something out of bread is always superior and what an extra special way to enjoy soup. Plus, I thought they were the coolest things on the planet when I was little.
Movie Night and Appetizer Party – I love this idea because you get to have a little of a ton of different things! Also, endless dips?? Yes, please. I mean just go to Trader Joe’s (mainly the frozen section) and you are in for a very delicious night. Here are some of the best ones according to you all.
Reuben Sandwiches – Just another truly incredible idea that’s a little out of the box.
Make a Meal From a Different Country and Learn About Their Traditions – Such a fun and cool way to expose you and your kids (if you have them) to a new culture! The more we learn about each other the more we can experience what makes us special and more importantly what connects us:)
Fake Snow in Kid’s Rooms and Hide Presents – Creating wonder and whimsy is such a special thing to do for kids. My mom was big on this growing up. So much like fairy dust when the tooth fairy comes, this parent puts some fake snow in her kid’s rooms while they’re sleeping and hides presents. I would have even just loved the snow! I really love this and here are two biodegradable faux snow options (this one and this one).
Costume Party – Another way to get whimsical and is a big step up from an ugly sweater party (which is also great, FYI)! Getting dressed up is so fun and should be encouraged all year round. A fun party sounds like the perfect way to get ready for Christmas day.
Soups and Desserts – Sign me up! This also feels very low-pressure and easy to prep a day or two before which is so so nice.
Eggs Benedict – Eggs Benedict is my favorite brunch item so this sounds great. Fun Fact: I usually swap the Canadian bacon for avocado. Man is it good and maybe not actually that “fun”. Ha. Also, my old favorite brunch spot swapped the bread for a fried potato nest. INSANE and recommended!
Chili and Fritos – Just yes.
Obstacle Course (With Traps!) to Presents – This is COOL! Definitely would take a ton of work but if you are a parent that’s up for it I can only imagine how fun this would be as a kid.
Build a Big Lego Set Together – I don’t know if you’ve heard but kids love Legos (and honestly so do adults:)) So I love that this is a family gift that everyone builds together on Christmas day. Such a fun (and wonderfully time-consuming) activity.
Scavenger Hunt for The One Big Family Gift – I’m sure Emily loves this too since she is a big scavenger hunt fan:) This one is also a good amount of more work but if you love doing them, what a cool activity to do as a family. This is something I would still love now!
Early Morning Dip in the Irish Sea with a Hot Hip Flask After – This one is specific (any cold body of water will do) but this is a cool thing to do for yourself to start your day off really well. Emily is a HUGE fan of cold plunging too and says it’s a great endorphin booster. Sometimes we need that during the holidays.
Experience Exchange – There’s very little that any of us need so the idea of an experience exchange instead of a gift exchange is truly so awesome. I think starting this when kids are young and it not being for just adults is great too. Teaching them to focus less on stuff.
A Personal Christmas Letter to Kids – I saved my favorite for last. This reader’s husband writes a personal letter to each of their kids every year for Christmas. I could cry just thinking about how special it is and will be to have those forever. What a gift to give to your kids that literally costs nothing yet means everything.
How great are these ideas?! We would love to hear yours in the comments. Let’s all have a fun and love-filled season, ok??? 🙂
Love you, mean it.
Opening Image Credits: Photo by Kaitlin Green | From: The Farmhouse Kitchen Reveal And All My Thoughts And Feelings About It