11 Fun & Easy Ways To Enjoy The Holidays More
Needing some inspiration for some fun and easy ways to enjoy the holidays more? Want to banish your inner “Grinch”? Look no further than these festive tips.
My Childhood Christmas Traditions
Living in Texas, the weather is warmer and I’m away from my family. It is sometimes hard to feel like it’s the holiday season to this Northeasterner. I was used to growing up with freezing cold Christmases, with someone in the family usually having a cold or runny nose. Christmas Eve was always celebrated at my grandparents’ home. Arriving there, I’d peer down the steep staircase into their small basement packed full of people. The smell of Italian food coming up from the basement wrapped around me like a warm scarf.
Food & Decorations
We’d find fresh bakery rolls, sausage and peppers, chicken cacciatore, meatballs and sauce, trays of lunchmeat, and cookies with the pastel almonds sprinkled throughout. The decorated Christmas tree was in one corner. Garland and Christmas balls were draped across the ceiling. We were greeted with the buzz of excitement and loud chatter as we approached the stairs and began to warm up.
My siblings, cousins, and I would be racing around downstairs or on the phone upstairs calling that 800 number to see where Santa was at the time. It wasn’t fancy and it wasn’t huge, but it was full of family, friends, and lots and lots of fun. And it was full of traditions—saying prayers all together before we began eating, enjoying lots of good food, catching up on everyone’s news, and then the gift-giving. Decorating Gingerbread Houses
Since I was young, another favorite tradition of mine was decorating gingerbread houses. Mom would take us to the local art museum around the holiday to see the gingerbread house displays to get “ideas”.
The first year we made the gingerbread houses she was ambitious and made fresh gingerbread and homemade icing to hold the houses together. This wasn’t very successful as the icing wasn’t “stiff” enough, and the walls of our houses wouldn’t stay standing.
Thinking quickly, mom grabbed a box of graham crackers and her trusty hot glue gun saying: “Well kids, we won’t be eating the houses now, but they will be fun to make!” We didn’t get to eat the gingerbread houses, but we got to thoroughly enjoy some candy dots, gumdrops, icing and other sweet treats as we placed them on our houses.
Continuing this tradition today, mom still decorates a gingerbread house each year, though we are all grown and moved away.
Generations Celebrating Together
Even in college I loved coming home for the holidays. There is something exciting about getting home to the people you love during the holidays or having those special friends or relatives come to visit you. It is a special time for togetherness and celebrating memories—and creating new ones too. During these college years while at home for the holidays, I liked going to the mall late at night with my mom and grandmother to go shopping when the crowds had thinned. We would then sit by the fountains and look at the huge Christmas tree displays while sipping a ‘Cafe Caramel’ from Coffee Beanery with chocolate shavings on top. We would just chat and watch people go by. One year the three of us even sat on Santa’s lap for a photo—a photo I really treasure now.
Holiday Traditions Change Over Time
Family Dynamics Change
Family dynamics are much different with this generation . . . kids (meaning adults my age) don’t, or sometimes can’t, stay local. Its harder to keep families all together and not everyone is able to make it for a holiday or gathering.
Holidays are different for me now too….
My grandparents are no longer around. There isn’t one large holiday celebration. I’ve moved over 1,000 miles away, and now have a family of my own. I don’t usually get to celebrate holidays with my bigger family on the actual holiday (or at all).
A Time of Adjustment
Changing the way I celebrated the holidays after so many years was quite an adjustment. The year we got married, my husband and I realized that it might just be the 2 of us (now 4), but were determined we would still have a happy, fun and magical holiday season. That first year we began “traditions” that we each had enjoyed over the years that had made the holiday season fun. And now we look forward to and plan these activities each year, adding some new ones now that we have kids.
Creating New Family Traditions (And keeping Some of the Old)
So in the spirit of giving, I wanted to share these 11 Fun And Easy Ways To Enjoy The Holidays More! We do these things to make the most of the holiday season. We enjoy the season rather than allow it to become stressful. You might already do some of these things. Or maybe you’ll find some inspiration here. I hope you enjoy!
11 Fun And Easy Ways To Enjoy The Holidays More!
1. People Watch
Visit a mall. Sit and watch people hustling by with their bags full of gifts. Or look at the festive holiday decorations in many big department stores. Or get your picture taken on Santa’s lap.
2. View the lights
Drive through neighborhoods admiring the lights, or see if there are local displays to admire. We have trolleys that go around town and they are free. At night around the holidays this is an extra fun way to see Christmas lights while staying warm.
3. Bake Christmas cookies
I usually bake a few family favorites like gingerbread men, Italian cheese cookies and pizzelles. This tradition incorporates my childhood family traditions with my own family’s. Now I make memories with my kids by letting them help decorate the cookies—and we ALL love taste-testing them! Also, I like to make cookies to give away to friends, family, and my husband’s co-workers. Additionally, I usually take some along to deliver to any office where I have an appointment around that time.
4. Take in a Christmas show or play
for a few years my mom and I would take the train up to New York City to see the the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular show. The Nutcracker Ballet is another popular Christmas performance at many theatres, local high schools, or churches that you might enjoy.
5. Ice skate
Where we live, they set up an indoor ice rink in town for the Christmas season. This is especially nice when living in a region that doesn’t get super cold or snowy. It’s nice to feel a chill once in awhile.
6. Watch a holiday movie
My husband and I have a tradition of watching the movie “White Christmas.” We get excited when December arrives, making sure we set aside a time to watch it. My sister and I watch “Love Actually” whenever we see each other around the holidays, too.
7. Decorate your home
Only do this for fun! (not if it stresses you out). A few little decorations can make your place feel more festive. My first married Christmas we had recently moved into our apartment. We didn’t have the space for a big tree. So I got a little table tree and threw some brightly colored mini Christmas balls on it. What a big difference that small tree made! I felt like I was part of the holiday season.
8. Listen to music
We have an Amazon Echo, and we constantly play holiday music, listen to holiday classics, or even make playlists. Click here to see what favorite songs are on our holiday playlist. It’s also fun to listen to holiday music in the car—the kids always appreciate my singing along!
9. Make a holiday craft
We like to decorate gingerbread houses, and the kids have started to make Christmas cards for their cousins. They color (or rather scribble) on pictures or we cut and paste pictures from magazines and send a cute message. Since these cards are homemade, it lets your loved ones know you are thinking of them and taking time to say “hello.”
10. Get in touch with Family
Set aside time to Facetime, Skype, etc. your loved ones that you can’t be with around the holiday. It doesn’t have to be on the exact day, as that day can be hectic. Thank goodness for modern technology (most of the time)! Though I’d rather hug my relatives, seeing them and being able to chat face-to-face is the next best thing.
11. Hangout with the “Hallmark Channel”
And if you want to get really sappy, ladies, you can always watch a good “Hallmark Channel” Christmas movie. They are a guilty pleasure of mine! Actually, they even begin as early as pre-Thanksgiving.
Creating Your Own Holiday Joy
While living in Virginia a few years ago, my sister came down to visit a few weeks after Thanksgiving. She arrived saying it “didn’t feel like Christmas” but left saying it “felt like Christmas now.”
Simple Things Can Be Special
So while she was there, we went to the mall to roam around with no agenda. We sipped some hot chocolate and sat and watched people walking by as we chatted. On the way home we listened and/or belted out the Christmas songs on the radio. That weekend we also watched the movie “Love Actually” which has now become our tradition each year of watching together. We laid blankets on the floor and made “create your own pizzas,” adding to the fun of the night.
Little Ones Remind Us What is Important
It’s easy to be stressed with problems, jobs, and trying to get it “all done” for the holiday. Sometimes we can find our joy from spending some time with little children…they have a way of making us slow down and realize what is important. They remind us to find joy in simple things….something to help bring out the little kid in us!
I still get nostalgic for those Christmas memories back home as a kid and my loved ones no longer living. I try to remind myself how lucky I am to have such wonderful memories, letting them inspire me to create those wonderful for my little ones. Most important, these new traditions we have started will hopefully make the holidays just as special and magical for my kids as the ones my parents and grandparents made for me.