Because we live in such a fast-paced world, it’s easy to get caught up the mayhem of buying presents and attending holidays events. If you’re like us, you get to the end of December and you can’t even remember what you did to celebrate the season besides drinking some hot chocolate and wrapping gifts. If you’re missing some of the joy of the season here are some ways to take control of your holiday with easy and fun traditions it’s not too late to start.

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25 Holiday Traditions To Start Now

#1: Cut Down Your Own Christmas Tree

Family with Christmas Tree

Something about trekking out to the mountains or the forest or even your local tree market to pick out your own tree is rewarding. We don’t know if it’s the smell of the fresh pine or the adrenaline rush of loading up the tree and praying to God that you make it home with the tree and car still intact, but either way, once that tree is set up in your home, you’ll be glad you took a few extra hours to get the real deal.

#2: Make Homemade Ornaments

Thanks to DIY websites, making ornaments can be easy, cheap, and fun. You can decorate gingerbread men and hang them from branches, thread together popcorn for garland, or use paper to create unique snowflakes. By adding some personal touches to your tree, you are sure to impress your friends and make memories with the people you love.

#3: Try Some New Food

christmas seafood

If you’re bored with the traditional turkey or ham dinners for Christmas, you could try these holiday favorites from around the world. In some places, black eyed peas are eaten for good luck in the coming year. Lutefisk, a delicacy from Scandinavia, is served on Christmas Eve. And tamales (a Mexican favorite) represent Los Posadas, or a celebration of Mary searching for a place to birth baby Jesus. If you love shrimp and fish, you could be like the people in Maine or on the coasts of Spain who eat seafood at Christmas. Or you could always go with the old classic and just roast some chestnuts.

#4: Go See a Christmas Show

One fun tradition during the holiday season is to go see a Christmas play, opera, or ballet. Some families enjoy seeing the same show every year, building a rich tradition for generations to come. Other families prefer to see A Christmas Carol one year and The Nutcracker the next. The nice thing about this tradition is that local theaters, schools, and professional companies put on a variety of shows so depending on your schedule and your price range, you are sure to find something the whole family will love!

#5: Find the Pickle

The German tradition of hiding a pickle ornament in the tree has caught on in some American families. The sparkly, green pickle blends in really well with Christmas trees and makes for a fun game for adults and kids. Whoever finds the pickle first wins some sort of a prize. Maybe the winner gets to open a present first or eat the first piece of pie!

#6: Visit a Local Christmas Market

Starting after Thanksgiving, Christmas markets start to pop up in town squares and city centers all around the world. This is a great place for a night out to buy gifts for family members, eat homemade cuisine, and drink some mulled wine. These markets usually double as great places to take holiday pictures with Christmas characters.

#7: Watch for the First Star on Christmas Eve

Another way to determine who gets to open the first present is to embrace the Polish tradition of watching for the first star to come out on Christmas Eve. This is a great way to get everyone up and out of the house after a big Christmas Eve dinner. It’s also a fun way to teach the kiddos about constellations. Who knows, you might even see Santa and some reindeer!

#8: Host an Ornament Swap

If you’re anything like us, you might feel a little pressure to buy gifts for all your friends during the holidays. At times, this can get overwhelming. In an effort not to break the bank, you could host an ornament swap. Have everyone bring one ornament, draw a number, and let the games begin. Word of warning though: If you’re playing a game where people can steal gifts, be sure to go over the rules first! You want all guests to leave the party with smiles on their faces.

#9: Watch Christmas Movies

Some of our favorite traditions growing up happened huddled around a warm fire watching classics like The Grinch, The Santa Claus, and A Christmas Story. If you prefer to stay at home in your pajamas, you can turn on almost any channel and find a Christmas classic playing. Or if you like to go to the theater, there are most certainly going to be holiday movies for the whole family to enjoy.

#10: Unwrap and Read Holiday Books

Another sweet tradition, especially if you have young kids or relatives, is to pick out a few holiday books from your kid’s collection. Wrap them up, and let a child pick a book each night to unwrap and read before bed. This helps keep the holiday spirit alive, but also helps the kids wind down for bed. We call that a win-win.

#11: Volunteer in Your Community

During the months of November and December, there are so many opportunities to volunteer. You can hand out food at shelters, buy gifts for children in need, read books to kids at local hospitals, or stand and shake a bell outside of local grocery stores. Whatever way you decide to volunteer, we think you will be just as blessed as the people you serve. Volunteering provides a great way to slow down, spend time truly giving during the holidays, and reflect on the important things in life. Who knows, you might even find a charity or organization that you fall in love with!

#12: Start an Office Decorating Contest

Most of us spend a large majority of our lives in an office of some sort. One way to make your space a bit more cheery is to host an office decorating contest. Come up with some ground rules, invite anyone to participate, and let the Pinteresting begin!

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I grew up in TN, but recently moved to Denver, CO to pursue a Masters in Literature. I love reading, writing, playing outside, hanging out with friends and family, and watching great movies.