We all dream of the perfect holiday surrounded by loved ones, delicious food, and the traditions we grew up with. Unfortunately, it is hardly ever so picture perfect. Family and friends move away, travel is stressful and expensive (particularly with young children) and many of us have to work or have other commitments through the holidays that make it difficult to get together.
Despite these inconveniences, there are ways to still feel connected and make the holidays meaningful for us and our kids. Here are ten suggestions to make your holiday season as special as possible.
1. Go above and beyond. Make an effort to be especially generous this time of year. It could simply mean giving a sincere hello to those walking by or donating to local charities. Giving not only puts us in a better mood, it teaches our kids the value of kindness and the true spirit of the season.
2. Make phone calls. We are often so busy that a text or email is how we communicate with close family members. Instead of sending a generic group text, find time to call the ones we want to wish a particularly happy holiday. Hearing the voices of loved ones can mean more than we realize. Pass the phone around so kids can give their own heartfelt wishes, or even use a video chat.
3. Decorate the house. Making fall decorations or stringing Christmas lights may seem a little extravagant, but taking the time to honor special days can elevate everyone’s mood and create fun, memorable activities for our kids. Making Thanksgiving place cards (even if it is the usual number of people at the table) can make a dinner feel extra special. Cutting out paper snowflakes and lighting candles can turn a dreary day into cozy winter bliss.
4. Have a “Friendsgiving” or join others for the winter holiday. Even without extended family close by, it can still be nice to celebrate in a bigger group. Invite friends over who also may also be missing loved ones or attend another family’s get together. Just surrounding your family with other people can create a warm, cheerful environment to make the day more memorable.
5. Start new traditions. Maybe every Thanksgiving morning go for a bike ride with the family. Or make a Christmas scavenger hunt. There are countless ways to personalize your holiday in a unique way and create lasting memories.
6. Send pictures or small packages. Many parents and grandparents are not on social media and truly appreciate hard-copy pictures of your family. Use this holiday as an excuse to take and send these pictures, or even send small homemade gifts. Making cookies or treats with the kids and sending them out or spending the time to create a unique holiday card can perk up your holiday while brightening the receivers day.
7. Make a holiday playlist. Many childhood memories are attached to particular songs or holiday music. Organizing a playlist ahead of time and listening to these songs through the winter months is a great way to spark positive thoughts and create a festive atmosphere.
8. Gather family recipes. Making Great Aunt Martha’s apple pie may not be the same as sitting next to her at the table, but it evokes warm memories and celebrates her in a special way. Cooking is an easy, fun way to pass on family tradition and can get everyone working together and sharing stories in the kitchen before the meal.
9. Make the day your own. Sometimes family members have to work or have other obligations on the actual holiday so don’t hesitate to schedule your own day to celebrate. Having an early or belated Thanksgiving can allow for a more stress-free and accessible holiday get together for friends and family.
10. Attend community holiday events. Getting involved in the community can make your family feel connected this time of year. Sign up for the Corvallis Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day morning, visit Christmas Storybook Land in Albany or check out Albany Historic Districts “Night-Time Magic” December 1 through January 1.
By Sarah Nieminski