As kids, we made cookies using an old family recipe. This was another special activity of which a wonderful part (besides the fun of baking together) was always sharing our festive fixings with someone in need. We also made “hidden special treasure” cupcakes. Mom hid a “Christmas surprise” in one cupcake before baking.
- For the thirty days before Christmas, have each person take a holiday decoration out of the box and hang it up. Little by little, wreaths, candles, mistletoe and candy canes and the pinecone centerpiece contribute to a festive glow for the house.
- Decorate the inside of the windows with Christmas scenes by using white shoe polish – the kind that comes with an applicator. It is not messy and wipes right off after the holiday with a damp rag or sponge.
- Send a family holiday letter telling friends and relatives news of the year.
- Window-shop in a town you never visited before.
- Listen to the music at a holiday concert at a church, college or mall. These concerts are listed in the newspaper calendar of events.
- Host a “trim-the-tree party.” String popcorn and cranberries. Or gather simple supplies in advance and host a “make-a-Christmas ornament” party. The host family serves Christmas punch, cookies and the invited families bring snacks to share. Punch recipe – 2 large bottles of Ginger Ale, 1 can of Hawaiian Punch, 1 large can of orange punch, and 1 small bottle of ReaLemon, 6 packages of red Kool-Aid, 2 gallons of water, 8 cups sugar. Add ice.
- Keep a file throughout the year of ideas that you see in magazines or hear about from friends. The ideas can include Christmas party ideas, recipes, simple holiday crafts and easy-to-make decorations.
- Make the simple craft ideas that you see in the women’s’ magazines, such as winding twine around a juice can or coffee can. Glue pictures from magazines, colored paper and stickers to the can for a colorful collage. Make a star for the top and fill with mints, peanuts, colored popcorn, a granola snack or homemade peanut brittle. Or use the decorated container for a pencil holder, clutter organizer or to store loose change or art supplies.
- Make photo Christmas ornaments this year using the annual school photographs. Just glue the photos to a regular Christmas ball, add some glitter and mark the date.
- Create your own greeting cards from magazine cutouts or last year’s cards.
- Compile a Family Christmas Book. Add relatives to send you their favorite ideas for preparing for Christmas, sharing memories and their most-loved recipes. Ask for short original stories, anecdotes and poems. Type up and make copies at the quick-print shop for each family.
- Ask an elderly relative or nursing-home resident what made their family’s special event memorable.
- Blend ideas from your past with fun traditions from around the world. Holiday celebrations unique to other parts of the world can be used to merge cultures.
- Visit the library and take out books on foreign folklore, poetry and activities. Be sure to learn holiday greetings and terms of endearment as spoken in different languages. Research the origins of holiday symbols and traditions. Ask your international friends to share customs that mark their special days.
- Record some music from special holiday programs.
- Learn about food, games and exotic legends, and listen to songs from other countries.
- Act out a Nativity scene or stage a Christmas play.
- Have a birthday party for baby Jesus, complete with cake, candles and singing.
- Invite neighbors to go Christmas caroling.
- Change the idea of Christmas from receiving to giving by visiting a nursing home or volunteering to help at a homeless shelter.
- Spend some time discussing what you feel each family member would truly enjoy.
- Start a tradition of reading the same Christmas story or watching the same Christmas movie as a family.
- Have a cookie exchange. Each person brings a batch of favorite cookies (and the recipe written down on an index card). The cookies are displayed on the dining room table and are distributed equally. Each person has a variety to take home.
- Have a holiday open house a few days before Christmas. Serve “munchies.” Eggnog, cheese, crackers and pretzels. Neighbors and friends are invited over for some holiday cheer.
- Shop the holiday bazaars on the final day, during the final hours when many of the craft tables and baked-good tables have reduced their crafts and goodies by half. Great time to buy baked goods to freeze for unexpected company or to give as gifts.
- Make the extra effort to celebrate holidays with family traditions. They serve to strengthen the family bond.
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