As someone who didn't grow up with any holiday traditions, I've always been fascinated by them. What other families do — in both movies and in real life – is something that I've always paid close attention to. The concept of making your own festive ritual to look forward to each year, and that gets passed down to new generations is a notion that warms my Grinch-sized heart. As I get older, and the holidays are becoming more my own, I've come to realize that it's never too late to start a holiday tradition. I reached out to my social network and asked people to send me cute holiday traditions that are easy to adopt, and was surprised by how different and yet equally sweet they are.
There are so many kinds of traditions that families create and hold on to, traditions that serve different utilities from getting food on the table in an interactive way, to keeping the kids entertained so the adults can party, to getting the whole family involved in giving back. Each tradition is simply special in that it's something that's been revered and maintained, carried through the holidays over time. While making up your own holiday tradition is a way to ensure its uniqueness and relevance to your family, there's something we can learn from hearing about other's traditions, and maybe even new ideas to adopt into your own holiday plans.
1. Megan, 32
"Every year, the whole family gets together and makes cookies from scratch. When they cool down, we decorate them, taking it very seriously like an art project. It's a fun, low-stakes competition that gets us excited every year."
2. Tim, 30
"My family and I put on a murder mystery production that has nothing to do with Christmas, and yet is totally embedded into our holiday tradition. It breaks the ice when we first get together the night before Christmas eve, and we change up the theme every year to keep it exciting, and it's a blast."
3. Shoshanna, 50
"I take my family to go see a movie that came out on Christmas Day every year. It doesn't matter what movie it is, or whether or not we're interested in seeing it, we always do this! We go in our pajamas, stopping to get a big pancake breakfast, first, of course."
4. Betty, 29
"We all get matching pajamas and socks and wear them together for a family picture. It's dorky, but it's fun, and it makes for great memories. My entire pajama collection is holiday-themed because of it."
5. Taylor, 27
"We make a fire pit outside, cook a ham on the open flame, and then hang out after dinner there, roasting marshmallows and singing — it's a winter camp site in the back yard and we look forward to bundling up for it."
6. Nancy, 34
"We take turns being in charge of picking a volunteer activity to partake in on Christmas eve. There's a rotation, so this year it's my turn to pick a foundation or cause that's looking for some holiday help. I found a temple nearby that's looking for help packing holiday dinners to deliver to the homeless, so that's what we'll do this year."
7. Stephen, 21
"We do a giant donation drive every year. The weeks leading up to the holidays we all go through our belongings and look for warm, gently used clothing that we're willing to part with, combine everything on New Year's Eve and take it to the community center. Each year, the goal is to have a heavier donation than the last."
8. Molly, 35
"My friends and I bake a bunch of festive treats — cookies, brownies, truffles, fudge, and candy-coated popcorn — and package it up in mason jars or recycled paper bags and write sweet notes on them and deliver them to neighbors, delivery workers, and people who work at the local businesses we frequent."
9. Kate, 31
"It's simple, but it's special to us. Before our holiday meal, we go around the table and share the thing we're thankful for, the things we're looking forward to in the next year, and one thing we love and respect about the person next to us. It sets a really warm and positive tone to the meal and even though thinking of these things ahead of time can be stressful, it always feels good to share."
10. Sam, 30
"With giant bowls of sugar cereal, wearing flannel pajamas, just like how we did when we were kids, we watch the original Grinch movie together, every year. And, every year, at least one person in the family says that they can't bear to watch it again, but in the end, we always end up watching it all the way though, and enjoying it."
11. Kay, 29
"We have a talent competition every year — it's far more comedic than it is impressive. By the end of the night it turns into karaoke, but it's fun for everyone to plan their act and forces us to learn a new song or dance or trick. It started when we were kids as a very serious thing and now it's basically an unintentional comedy show. I'll carry on this tradition when I start my own family, and I can't wait to see what the next generation comes up with."
It doesn't matter what you do, as long as the tradition is unique to your loved ones, and feels special each year.