Here are some ways to spice up the holidays, without adding gingerbread and cinnamon to everything.
By Anna Pearson
Families have had Christmas traditions passed on through generations and generations, anything from Christmas cookie recipes to matching pajamas on Christmas morning. Here are some not-so-common traditions to try implementing into your family this holiday season!
#1: Go caroling around your neighborhood
Although caroling might seem like a scene out of your favorite Hallmark movie, why not try it in real life? The average American suburban neighborhood could use the sound of joyful Christmas cheer, especially for those houses with light displays that will have a racked-up electricity bill after December is over. Most Christmas carols can be found online, lyrics and sheet music. Or, if you’re feeling some stage fright in front of your neighbors, try singing some carols together with your family in the comfort of your own home. That way, if you have that one cousin who won’t shut up about choir and singing off-key, you can always escape to another room.
#2: Try a new type of advent calendar
Everyone cherishes the classic advent calendar — many filled with candy for each day counting down to Christmas, yet many now sold in stores include other things like socks, skincare products or different types of tea. As a family, you could buy a reusable advent calendar to restock year after year with your own goodies for each day! This can be anything from your favorite candies and stickers to jewelry, coupons and more. If creativity isn’t for you, hit up the nearest Target or Walmart to shop their selection of Godiva chocolate and 12 days of socks advents.
#3: Have a gingerbread house competition
Gingerbread houses can be frustrating to make and take a lot of patience to finish. Although holding up the walls of the gingerbread house may be anguishing, the patience would be 10 times more worth it if it’s for a competition against your friends and loved ones. Pair off into teams of two or three, buy enough gingerbread house kits for each team and be sure to gather some extra supplies like sprinkles, Oreo cookies, pretzels, Chex cereal and a ton of extra frosting. If you want a formal competition, you can always bring in someone from the outside to judge or post a poll on social media.
#4: Open one present on Christmas Eve
Presents likely will gather under the tree slowly throughout the months of November and December, or sometimes all will appear on Christmas morning via Santa Claus. Each person can pick out one present that they have wrapped for someone else, for them to open one night early. This way, you can get a little sneak peek of what other fun things are coming for you the next day! This present can be something small that the person might even be able to use on Christmas, such as a nice shirt for Christmas Day church service, an ornament to hang on the tree or cozy socks to wear.
#5: Hide the Christmas pickle in the tree
This one you may have heard of before: the Christmas pickle! Legend has it that this game goes back to German tradition, but that may or may not have been debunked. Basically, someone hides a pickle ornament somewhere on the Christmas tree, and the first person to find it gets a special prize for Christmas! Christmas pickle ornaments are sold anywhere from Target to Altar’d State, and this game of hide-and-seek is an easy way to bond with family while decorating the tree.
#6: Begin a yearly ornament collection
Some people have themes for their Christmas trees, and some go the mumbo-jumbo route with ornaments ranging in age from their childhood to the year prior. These mumbo-jumbo ornaments can tell a story if some thought is put into them! Try starting a new tradition of buying an ornament for your family members that represents something from that year — it could be from a significant accomplishment, an inside joke or a new hobby that they started this year. Then, each year, more ornaments are added to the collection and can act as memories to look back on all of the symbols chosen to represent your years.
#7: Try a stocking exchange
Instead of doing a white elephant or secret Santa gift exchange for those low budget gift swaps, try doing a stocking swap! Stocking stuffers fill the shelves of holiday sections of stores — anything from shaving cream to mini candles can be stuffed in the oversized stocking socks and hung by the fireplace. For a unique gift idea, try making customized stockings for others, including their favorite small things, like hair accessories, jewelry, tumblers, stationery and more. Of course, you’ll always have the miscellaneous stockings from distant relatives filled with ChapStick, Cheetos, wool socks and hand sanitizer, but a stocking exchange can elevate your usual group holiday gift exchange for something new and fun.