It’s a Perfect Year For New Traditions

After a year of the unexpected, the holidays is a perfect time for your family to spend time together to take control of your immediate future and create a brand-new tradition (OK, that’s an oxymoron, but bear with us), something that will bolster your holiday spirit and end 2020 on a positive note.

Here are some ideas, easy to adopt and maintain, for families large and small.

Drawing on the tablecloth — This is one that will work for Christmas but may be even more appropriate for Thanksgiving! Put a white tablecloth over the table, throw on some cloth markers and invite everyone to write and/or draw about whatever they’re most thankful about, their favorite gift to give or receive or whatever else is in their hearts. Repeat next year. Soon it’ll look like one of those tables that have been carved for generations in an old restaurant, AND a timeline of your family’s growth.

DIY Advent Calendars — Instead of the flimsy cardboard calendars with little slits for a piece of candy, make one that can be used again and again, and are big enough to involve the whole family. The possibilities are endless! Origami shapes, bright felt pockets, boxes hung on the tree, tiny stockings hung on the wall, bags tied to the rungs of a ladder — and you can fill them with candy, small gifts, loving notes, clues for a scavenger hunt, fun activities, acts of kindness, or anything else to spark a little joy and love.

Everyone Gets a Book on Christmas Eve (Jolabokaflod) — In Iceland, it is a tradition to gift everyone with a new book on Christmas Eve, and then spend the night reading. Its Icelandic name translates to mean “Yule book flood.” This idea is picking up traction around the world and encourages reading for all ages. Family members can read to each other or curl up in their own corners to read, then come together to discuss them later that night or on Christmas morning! You can bring new twists to this one every year, like making it your Secret Santa tradition or giving books that share a theme but are tailored to each person.

Christmas Pickle — The tradition of hanging a pickle-shaped ornament has an origin story as an ancient German tradition that appears to have been invented in the U.S. Midwest somewhere in the late 19th century, but it’s still endured long enough to become one of its own. Generally, the first person to find the pickle on Christmas morning wins an extra gift or is said to have a year of good fortune on the way (we can all use one of those!) If pickles aren’t your favorite you can choose another ornamentized food with family significance — a jalapeno, a ham, whatever you choose!

Name That Nutcracker Tune — All you need for this is a good nutcracker; the everyday kind can work but one of the iconic holiday figures with a working jaw will add to the festivities and hilarity. All you do is “crack” out a tune and have others try to guess what song it is. This can be an acquired skill so it may take a couple years for everyone to pick up the rhythm, but once it becomes ingrained the family won’t want to let it go!