It’s no secret that the holidays are fast approaching. The weather is getting colder, the sweaters are getting warmer, and festive lights are popping up everywhere. Even just walking around town feels more and more magical with each passing day! While the joys of the season may sometimes get a bit obscured by the hustle and bustle of preparations, holiday traditions can be great ways to reflect on the family and friends who make life feel bright. Here are a few traditions, new and old, that you can easily add to your holiday season to make memories that will last a lifetime!
Thanksgiving is all about family, good food, and gratitude, so here are some fun ideas you can use to start a tradition that incorporates all three! One easy tradition to begin is to share some of the cooking! Instead of one host cooking for the entire family, the process can become much more collaborative. Bring together friends and family to help cook special dishes together. Not only is it fun, but it can also be an opportunity to share favorite family recipes with the younger generation, or to experiment with new dishes! Many courses can be prepared several days in advance, so working as a team throughout the week can help alleviate some of the pressure that can come with cooking for a large group all at once. If traveling schedules make cooking together ahead of time unlikely, you can also try to coordinate dishes to bring, so everyone can contribute to the meal. If anyone is unable to contribute any cooking, you can include them by making their favorite recipes. By making the central meal a shared experience from beginning to end, you can spend more time with family, pass down recipes, and make memories you can all be thankful for!
Sharing what you’re grateful for is a classic Thanksgiving tradition. A fun way to remember what matters most can be making keepsakes to remind everyone about what they are thankful for. For example, you can take an inexpensive tablecloth and some thin permanent markers and let each person write down what they are thankful for (if you do use any permanent markers, make sure to put a liner under the cloth to protect the table). Each year, everyone can continue adding to the tablecloth until it is covered with reminders of what your family is grateful for. Alternatively, you can achieve similar results by having people write down words of gratitude on cards, which you can save, read, and add to each year. You can even use these little cards and notes to create an Advent calendar for the upcoming Christmas season, to remind everyone each day about something special they can be thankful for!
Thanksgiving can also be a perfect time to prepare for winter festivities. Many of the tree farms near Anderson open on Thanksgiving Day, making that evening a great opportunity to find a Christmas tree so you can set up lights and decorations with the whole family!
Sharing recipes together doesn’t have to be exclusive to Thanksgiving. Baking together is always a great way to spend a holiday! One classic way to do this is to make a gingerbread house. There are many pre-made kits you can buy, or you can make one from scratch. You can even invite people over for a gingerbread house party and let your friends decorate with you. Just make sure you have frosting bags and candy bowls for everyone!
Each year, my family and I make cookies together for Christmas, and it is one of my favorite traditions we share. There is something so special about spending a day decorating cookies for friends and family, celebrating the spirit of giving by sharing them with all our friends and neighbors. If you want to spread joy to the whole community, a rewarding tradition you can begin is to share the cookies you make with first responders in the area as well to show your appreciation for those who make a difference all year! You can also bring some treats to nearby nursing homes to help brighten everyone’s days! Of course, the giving spirit doesn’t have to stop at cookies. You can lend a hand to children in need by supporting the Salvation Army Angel Tree, Toys for Tots, or by reaching out to local charities, food banks, or shelters. Donating gifts and supplies to great causes like these can be a perfect way for your family to help the community while spreading holiday cheer.
There are plenty of fun, classic activities around Anderson that can easily become holiday favorites. This December, you can spend the day at Holiday Ice, skating in the synthetic rink, no previous ice-skating experience required! Nothing says winter cheer quite like learning to ice skate, which can easily become both a delightful tradition and a fun new skill! There are also parades, lights displays and seasonal storefronts to visit if you want to add a little bit more of that classic Christmas magic!
The rush for holiday planning can feel stressful, so make sure to slow down and take a deep breath when things feel hectic. There are plenty of traditions and activities you can weave into the season that can make every day memorable with minimal stress. Some of my favorite childhood memories take place around the hearth, bundled up in blankets with my family and watching cheesy movies with a mug of hot chocolate, or reading a book while listening to holiday music, enjoying just being around family. However, you decide to spend the season, the most important tradition you can add is to appreciate those who matter most to you, and to take time to be present!