History is Bunk—Start Your Own Christmas Traditions

Garland strung across an evergreen’s branches, a red-clad man named Santa and early morning Sunday services with the whole bleary-eyed family. We’ve been set up to expect certain traditions from the holiday season. But who’s to say that we need to limit ourselves to shopping malls, reindeer and sugar cookies? You’re completely free to define your own Christmas traditions.

Forget one-size-fits-all holiday greetings. It’s time to blaze your own trail. Here are some ideas to prompt your own unique holiday muse.

Devise a Holiday Outing
The usual Christmas outings involve taking the kiddos to see Santa Claus at the local mall, visiting church or taking a night drive through neighborhoods of houses girded with strings of Christmas lights. These are all great things to integrate into your holiday tradition, sure—but what’s a unique outing that can define your holiday yearly?

Maybe you can take your kiddos out for an annual Christmas cookie. Perhaps a yearly, high-stakes snowball fight with the relatives (regional weather permitting)? Or maybe a trip to the soup kitchen to create the habit of altruism? Whatever the tradition, just make it worth talking about for years to come.

The 12 Days of Christmas
Here’s a way to build the holiday anticipation: craft a Christmas tradition to implement in the weeks before the big event. Here are some ideas everyone can embrace. Try watching one cheesy Christmas movie a weekend, and after a few years, the whole family will be able to quote the worst lines verbatim throughout the year. Make a chain of construction paper gingerbread men, one representing each day of December. On the gingerbread men’s backs, have little daily imperatives, like “spread the cheer” or “catch a snowflake on your tongue today.” Just make it original.

A Christmas Eve Extravaganza
Santa Claus is so passé. How about leaving your shoes outside of your bedroom door and have Sinter Klaus leave oranges and candy in them, as per the European tradition? Some other great Christmas Eve ideas: bust out the sleeping bags for the kiddos, and let them sleep in the living room. Or if you’re feeling like paying homage to The Christmas Story, go out for some duck at your local restaurant.

You too can create unique holiday traditions. Treasure them—they’ll only grow sweeter as they age.