While this time of year is always filled with magical fun, high expectations around the holiday season can also bring on extra stress (how many teacher gifts?!). We asked around and came up with 10 easy holiday traditions that won’t break the bank or require a ton of planning—so take a deep breath and revel in the magic. Keep reading to see them all.
photo: courtesy Jolly Mom
1. Countdown by Book
Instead of a traditional Advent calendar, wrap up Christmas books and open one each day of December leading up to the 25th. Include old favorites that you re-wrap every year and only take out for the holidays, as well as the occasional new book to add to your collection! For more unique takes on this tradition, check out our favorite advent calendars by clicking here.
2. Take in a Holiday Movie
Make it a movie night by heading out to see the new family movie, Ferdinand, which debuts December 15 nationwide. Laugh at and be won over by the lovable bull with a huge heart.
3. The Pajama Game
Wrap up new holiday pajamas for every member of the family and open them on Christmas Eve. Choose matching ones for extra Instagrammable flair, or distribute them on Thanksgiving so you can wear them the entire season! These sets from Hanna Andersson are extra soft and come in a ton of patterns. We also love these options available at your local Target!
photo: Sandor Weisz via Flickr
4. Lotsa Latke Love
If you live in a community without many Jewish members, consider hosting a latke party to share good food (you can even ask guests to each bring a few potatoes!) and learn more about Hannukah traditions. Share your family’s tried-and-true potato latke recipe or try one of these unique recipes using alternative ingredients like squash, brussels sprouts, or feta.
photo: SK via Flickr
5. Lights, Chocolate, Action!
Find the neighborhood with the best holiday lights (your local Next Door newsfeed is a great place to ask around!) and cruise around with hot chocolate in travel mugs. One of these recipes for hot chocolate is sure to bring on some happy holiday slurping while you ooh and ahh. Also, check out this list of the coolest holiday light displays from coast to coast in case one is within driving distance for your family.
photo: David Kelly
6. It’s Show Time
Check out your community’s theatre listing for live plays or dance performances during the holiday season. Most cities also host many free music events during this time of year. You can even check out your favorite coffee shop, restaurant, or local library for performances!
7. It’s All About the Cookies
We all love holiday cookies—but if you don’t love the way your tummy feels after eating all the holiday cookies, share them! Make some memories baking a few batches with your kiddos and go for a long walk delivering them to your neighbors. One or two of these holiday cookie recipes are sure to fit the bill.
photo: Lane Fournerat via Flickr
8. Phone in Your Hanukkah Blessings
If your family members are far apart during the holidays, harness technology to bring them all together. Gather up every phone in the house (bonus points if you have a landline!), call your distant family members, and put them all on speaker phone as you sing the blessings.
photo: Florida Fish and Wildlife via Flickr
9. $5 Target Secret Santa
Wake up your inner game show contestant and bring the whole family to Target (or a similar store). Set a time limit; everyone splits up and has to find a gift for $5 or under—the funnier and more random the better! When you get back home, wrap up your finds, draw numbers, exchange gifts, and have a laugh. You might even unwrap a new tradition or two (like that Christmas hedgehog on Super Clearance).
photo: AJ Davis via Flickr
10. Themed Gift Nights
If you choose to exchange gifts each night of Hannukah, consider assigning a theme to each night. For example, exchange books on the first night, sports-related gifts on the second night, games on the third night, etc. Eight nights of gifts mean eight times the fun!
Will you try any of these traditions with your family this year? Tell us in a comment below!
— Katie Brown
FERDINAND tells the story of a giant bull with a big heart. After being mistaken for a dangerous beast, he is captured and torn from his home. Determined to return to his family, he rallies a misfit team on the ultimate adventure. Set in Spain, Ferdinand proves you can’t judge a bull by its cover.