My family has some very unique holiday traditions. Often instead of presents, my family will schedule a European trip one Christmas we took a trip to Southern Germany for the Chriskindlmarkets, and last year we decided to explore Barcelona, Spain. And since I’ve moved to Chicago, I love to visit Chicago’s Chriskinlmarket and go ice skating at the bean.
If we’re at home for the holidays, we like to do a Liuthainian tradition known as a Kūčios. A Kūčios is a special meatless Christmas Eve meal that consists of 12 different dishes, and on Christmas day we make a special breakfast and open presents in the living room in our pjs while my dad plays his epic Christmas playlist on Spotify.
But as we are all aware 2020 is not a traditional year, and we still haven’t found a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus. It’s not that safe to travel or gather together especially with large families and many of us might sacrifice holiday visits for the health and safety of our families. But that doesn’t mean you need to forego traditions or that you can’t create new traditions for you and your family and here are a few ideas of new traditions to create to make the holidays just as magical.
Binge holiday movies on your favorite streaming service
I hate to admit it but I’m a sucker for some holiday movies, this year I caved and to my sister’s dismay I pulled out Santa Clause is coming to town and put it on while cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Freeform is doing their Annual 25 Days of Christmas showing a bunch of classic Christmas movies, Netflix and Hulu also have some really cute holiday originals. If you subscribe to any of the streaming services you’re bound to find some great movies to watch until Christmas. On Christmas Eve I also really love watching all the Christmas episodes of some of my favorite shows (the Friends Christmas Eve Eve episode is a must on the 23rd!) Start the movie with your friends or family at the same time and watch “together”.
Bake cookies and do drive-by drop-offs with your friends
You don’t have to miss out on the annual cookie exchange this year. Organize a cookie exchange with some close friends, bake up your favorite flavors and wrap them up to drop off at your friends’ homes.
Master some holiday cocktails
This year has been the year of mixology for me. I have loved experimenting with new cocktails I’ve always wanted to learn how to make. And might I add my home bar is looking pretty fantastic with beautiful drinkware and spirits for any drink preference. So this year try your hand at some seasonal drinks. I’ve been loving some spiked cider recipes, and of course, as a German, it’s not a Christmas celebration without some Gluhwein. I love making my own mulled wine recipe.
Make handmade gifts
If you’re feeling a little short on cash this year try making your friends and family gifts, I saw some cute hot chocolate treat ideas where you create a case for some mix, mini marshmallows, and put a candy cane on the end. when you place the treat in your mug and pour hot milk or water on it the chocolate melts and leaves you with a delicious cup of hot chocolate. Pinterest has loads of cute ideas to inspire you.
Go on a drive (or walk) around your neighborhood to admire the lights
I know I’ve seen tons of people getting an early jump on their Christmas decorating. So this year get your roommates or live-in family together (grab a warm drink) and take a walk or drive around your neighborhood to enjoy all the Christmas lights. I have to be honest it’s been a while since I’ve done this but as a kid seeing all the extravagant lights was always a highlight of the season.
Try out some new traditional holiday foods or holiday ritual
Have you ever had a figgy pudding? We sing about it in Christmas Caroles but have you ever tried one, this year try out a new traditional holiday dish or look deeper into your heritage and it’s traditions and try something new. Just like my family’s nod to our Liuthainian side, this is a great way to get closer to your roots.
Make your own Christmas playlist and share it with your friends
I know I said my dad has a pretty awesome playlist we play every year but I’d be lying if I didn’t also create an epic list of all my favorite new and classic Christmas songs. I love putting it on while I’m decorating my apartment or traveling around the city during the holidays. Share your list with your friend group and if you’re so inclined allow them to add songs of their own to make it extra special
Do a holiday book club
If you and your friends are readers start your own holiday book club. Find books set around the holidays or that have a holiday theme and do a weekly book club over zoom, bonus points if each week you do a signature holiday cocktail everyone can make for your discussions.
Hygge up your space
Hygge is a Danish tradition for the winter season to make your home the coziest and special place for you. Stock up on your favorite winter candles and spread them all over your home, redesign your lighting in your house to be as cozy as possible, and bring out all your fluffy pillows and throw blankets. The winter temperatures won’t be the only think keeping you indoors this season
Adopt a Family
If you are financially able you can adopt a family or donate toys to children for the holidays. Because of the pandemic and the recession the United States is in the midst of currently there are millions of families that aren’t able to buy holiday gifts or even food for their families this season. So check out your local Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Services, or volunteermatch.com to find families in need in your area. You can also visit Feed-A-Family to learn how to give food this holiday season.
If you have kids – make reindeer food
As a kid believing in Santa I was very concerned with making sure Santa and his reindeer were well fed and knew where to find our home on their trip to deliver presents. So Christmas Eve my sister and I would get our special Santa plate, fill it with cookies, fill the special Santa mug with milk, and leave baby carrots for each of the reindeer, We would also put reindeer food out on our lawn to make sure the reindeer knew where to land. So if you have kids have them help you make the reindeer food with plain oats and biodegradable glitter. It’s easy and a great craft idea.
Zoom chat while cooking and share family recipes
Finally, if you aren’t with family for Christmas plan a family Zoom. Instead of calling everyone while you’re eating call a little earlier and cook together instead. Need Grandma’s help with her famous Jell-O salad? Or maybe need mom to remind you what temperature the ham needs to be cooked at they can all be there to help and it makes cooking your own Christmas dinner less daunting.
However you decide to celebrate the holidays this year I hope you and your family are safe. Try some virtual celebrating and maybe we can even use some of these new traditions in the future for family a bit father away each year. What is your favorite holiday tradition?