Start A New
Tradition This Year

Make Christmas even more special this year by adding a new tradition to your repertoire of seasonal must-dos. We put together a few festive ideas for you to introduce to your holidays this year.

Friends decorating Christmas tree

Whether you're bored with the same old thing every year or just want to start a tradition that's uniquely yours (and not something your mom or his mom used to do), try one of these fun ideas to bring new life to your Christmas celebration.

Ornament exchange

Make it a tradition this season to exchange Christmas tree ornaments among family and friends. This can even be in lieu of gifts if you have a particularly large group of friends or lots of extended family. Arrange to give an ornament you already have, something new or something you (or your kids) have made.

The idea behind this festive tradition is to turn your tree into a representation of everyone you love by decorating it with ornaments given to you by your favorite people. You can theme the event to incorporate a certain type of decoration (by color, homemade, etc.) or simply tell people to bring any ornament of their choosing. If you're not able to get everyone together for one big pre-Christmas exchange, plan a few smaller gatherings among those you want to have participate.

Giving back

One of the best traditions to start with your family around the holidays is taking a day to give back to those in need. Not only will you be helping someone, you'll feel better about yourself and show your kids that Christmas isn't just about getting presents. Take a look at some of the family-friendly opportunities in your area, sit down as a group and decide how you would like to help out this year. Walk dogs or spend time with cats at a local animal shelter, serve meals at a soup kitchen or even organize a food drive for non-perishable goods in your neighborhood on behalf of a nearby food bank. The more you can make giving back part of your own family's holiday experience, the more meaning the season will have.

DIY gifts

We're not suggesting you toss out the Christmas lists dutifully printed out and stuck to the fridge, but having everyone in the family give one handmade gift is a great holiday tradition to try. To make things easier, have everyone pick a name (à la secret Santa) and that's whom they make a gift for.

Whether you make a photo album of pictures from past Christmases for your husband or knit your son a cap with a pair of matching mittens, simply get creative and have fun with the exercise. Gifts don't have to come from a mall. In fact, chances are you have a houseful of "stuff" already, so making one gift for each other helps foster the idea that it's really the thought and effort that count. Big boxes full of the latest toys area great, but so are gifts from the heart.

More holiday tips & ideas

Get organized now for a stress-free season
Holiday decor: 5 fresh takes on Christmas decorations
Simple home entertaining tips to welcome holiday guests

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