Create new memories

The holidays bring with them a slew of expectations and to-dos, and sometimes the joy of the season can become lost in the hectic routine. Put the fun back into the festivities by establishing a new holiday tradition or two. Here are a few ideas:

For the entire family

Gather the kids around the fire or just in the soft glow of candlelight (from gingerbread scented candles, of course!) and read aloud. Choose a book or story that reflects what the season means to your family. Have an adult or older sibling do the reading, or pass it around if the kids are older. Sweeten the deal with steaming cups of marshmallowy cocoa and warm cookies.

There’s nothing like a building a gingerbread house with the family! If you have lots of family members in town, you could stage a contest; spend one day baking the sides and roofing of your gingerbread house, then the next competing to build the best-decorated. For a panel of judges, have everyone submit the name of a favorite house that isn’t his or her own. The one with the most votes wins! Alternatively, a simple house made with your own family members is perfect for a low-key afternoon and a fun, interactive new tradition.

Another great tradition? Volunteering time to a charity that’s meaningful to your family. It’s never too early to introduce children to the joy of supporting others. It doesn’t have to be a holiday or seasonally oriented charity, either; just seek out causes that speak to you and then offer what you can in support. You can find a whole host of organizations in need at

With friends

Celebrate Boxing Day! Boxing Day is not officially recognized in the United States, but is a popular holiday in many other countries and falls on December 26th. Whether you stayed at home or braved the crowds on Black Friday, you have a second chance at some killer deals on Boxing Day. Stores will slash prices on holiday décor and tons of other items, and this is a great chance to gather your girlfriends, grab a hot cup of some exotically flavored coffee, and hit the stores running.

Once you’ve worn yourselves down from shopping—or if you’d rather relax than fight the bustle—book an appointment at your favorite spa or nail studio for manis and pedis. It’s a great way to spend quality time with close friends and to prep yourself to ring in the New Year in style. Go ahead—pre-book next year’s appointment, too.

Celebrating solo

If you’re lucky enough to score a quiet hour (or two!) during the crazy December weeks, establish your own tradition to quiet your mind and get into the holiday spirit. Put on a favorite album of holiday songs and wrap gifts after the kids are tucked in. Pull on a warm sweater and some fuzzy socks to up the pampering factor.

Is there a holiday movie you especially love? You could watch with the family, or you could pop some popcorn, brew up a steamy pot of flavored coffee, and take in the flick on your own time and your own terms. Bonus: If the kids aren’t around, you can get away with holiday movies that don’t really play well with younger audiences but bring out the belly laughs for you, which totally burns off some of those popcorn calories!

Have you started any new traditions this year or in past years? Tell us all about it below!

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