We know the long and storied history of Christmas and the symbols that have become a part of our annual celebrations, but what of making new, personal and family holiday traditions at Christmas?
Many people have critiqued the overt consumerism of the holiday, mountains of plastic toys, and quick gifting that is all but forgotten the days and weeks following the holiday, but not many have offered solutions to center gift-giving centered on quality and care, community-building, and the advent of new traditions at Christmas time.
Here are some simple ideas to help you, your friends, and your family to slow down this holiday season and to create an exchange that is truly memorable.
One of the best ways to create laughter, hilarity and fun is to work together as you decorate for the holidays. This can be a challenge if you like everything to be “just so,” but with a little pre-preparation you can set expectations so everyone is on the same page and you can end up with the look and feel you want, and that provides space for everyone to have fun.
First, it can be helpful to let go of perfection a little bit and to recognize that everyone involved will bring unique skills and experience. You want to keep it light and enjoyable, so limit the amount of time and the number of areas to be styled. Maybe stick to a tree or a single room. You can always go back later and finish up. Base the time of the activity around the participants. Children involved in decorating may have shorter attention spans, but conversely, some kids love decorating for the holidays and don't want to quit.
If participants have limited experience in decorating for Christmas, share a guide like our “How to Decorate a Christmas Tree” with an open spirit, so everyone has some idea of the game plan. You can even gather everyone around and sketch out on paper some ideas for your decor. Smaller decor elements like a centerpiece, mantel or items you’d like to hang around doorways or other focal points are similar to decorating a tree, but on a smaller scale and generally with a single point of interest.
During the activity make light conversation. If everyone wants to talk about options for ornament placement, great! Otherwise let the conversation flow naturally. Plan some conversation starting questions like, “How did the semester wrap up?” for college students or “What’s your favorite thing about school?” for younger kids. Here’s a list of 103 conversation starters to get your juices flowing.
Camp out in front of your Christmas Tree
A Christmas tree camp-out is always a great activity for you and your significant other, family, or for your kids as a sleepover. Add some glow-in-the-dark stars to the ceiling, or a constellation projector to add some added magic to your room. You can add a weekend to your calendar and make it an annual event. Make a new holiday tradition you can look forward to each year.
If it’s just you and your significant other, plan something romantic. If it’s a sleepover, plan story hour, and include some story games - telephone, “Suddenly,” or “Pass the story.” You can make any of these games Christmas-themed by simply using the right prompts. “Tess woke up on Christmas day to find only a lump of coal in her stocking… suddenly….” or “Once upon a time, Santa’s sleigh fell through the ice only moments before takeoff… pass.”
Storytelling is a great way to open up the imagination, and imagination spurs memories of past events and the possibility of the future, both of which relate to the theme of Christmas.
Plan your camp-out on Christmas Eve and maybe someone will even catch a glimpse of Santa loading in gifts under the tree.
Create smaller, more personal events
Small, intimate events open up the opportunity for richer, more personal engagements between everyone there. With five to ten guests rather than 20 or more, there’s more opportunity for everyone to sit around the living room and talk. With larger groups, people break out into small clusters and conversations become light as people move from group to group.
Just as with hosting a sleepover, planning some conversation starters goes a long way to creating a memorable event. Work themes always come up as do vacations during conversation, but sometimes inviting each person to say something they are thankful for and something they want to bring to light in their life in the coming season can dig deeper.
Caroling has long been a holiday tradition, and singing can be a great way to wrap up an event, especially when it moves your group from your home out into the world. If you are shy about singing, a white elephant gift exchange is another great social activity, but it often works as the peak at the middle of your social gathering. Another great way to wrap up is to host a social event on a day where there is a public gathering following your event, such as a free Christmas concert or a public tree lighting.
Host a taffy-pulling party
Get hands-on with a taffy-pulling event. A great activity that can become a holiday tradition for singles or couples alike, hosting a taffy-pulling party is fun and a little bit challenging. A pile of sugar, a bit of corn syrup, a pinch of corn starch, water and a little salt plus flavoring over the stove sets the stage. Watching the temperature is important with any candy making and the risk of burning the sugar ads a bit of anticipation to the process.
Once boiled and mixed, you’ll let the concoction cool until you can touch it with your hands. Buttering your hands and pulling the taffy with a partner is when it gets fun. Just be careful not to burn yourself or your partner with the hot mixture!
Here’s an article we love with a great taffy recipe.
Caramel or Chocolate dipped apples are another great way to bring people together around an activity in the kitchen.
Events that bring people together and that allow them to work hand in hand on a fun activity are a great way to make memories. Your festive home is a great place to make these memories. You won’t want to forget the ornaments and decor that make your home bright.
Add one of these events to the schedule each year, and you’ve got a tradition in the making.
Make a tradition of gifting something truly unique and memorable
When it comes to gifting, so much of what is promoted at the holidays are either essentials that can be purchased and gifted at any part of the year or toss-aways that miss the true care and consideration that only a one-of-a-kind crafted gift can.
At House of Pixen, we do the work to design and create Christmas ornaments and decor that bring fine design and luxury to your holiday home. Great for your home, and as a custom gift in its own keepsake box, come see some of what we have to offer.