Discover unique holiday traditions — and start new ones!

Photo of making christmas crafts

We all have cherished memories of holiday traditions.

Remember those Christmas Eves standing in a long line waiting to get your family-size bucket of chicken at KFC?

Or what about when your parents left food out for the friendly witch who flew to your house on a broomstick and dropped gifts in your stocking?

And who can forget Christmas Day at the beach, basking in the sun, sea froth nipping at your toes?

No? None of these traditions ring a bell? Maybe it’s because you haven’t spent the holidays in Japan, where, while not officially celebrated, Christmas is a time many locals enjoy a meal resembling “America’s traditional holiday dinner” at KFC. Or maybe you haven’t enjoyed Yuletide in Italy, where an old witch named Befana delivers gifts to children on the eve of Epiphany. Or perhaps you’ve never found yourself celebrating Christmas in Australia, where December falls in the summertime and families build sandcastles instead of snowmen.

Wherever and whenever holiday traditions take place, most share one thing in common: loved ones spending time with each other. Looking for new traditions offering just that and a little more? Here are a few ideas to not only help strengthen family ties, but highlight what the true gifts of the season really are.

photo of christmas tied to the car

Cut your own Christmas tree

Visit a tree farm and make it a growing experience. Let your kids know that fir trees are gifts from nature. Enjoy the piney smell and bouncy branches, and find the perfect choice together. If you’ve never cut a tree before, just ask a farm hand for help. If you’d like to cut one yourself, watch this video for tips, and don’t forget your gloves! There’s nothing quite like finding your own Christmas tree and seeing it through from start (cutting) to finish (decorating) as a family.

photo of a homemade pizza

Make your own pizza

Sure, baking Christmas cookies is always fun, but why not zest things up by creating your own pizza pies? There’s no offseason for pizza, and making your own can be a savory new tradition when you give everyone a part to play. Just find the right size pizza stone for your oven, a pizza peel and cutter, and follow these step-by-step instructions. Good food and great times together are gifts. Play carols as you cook and enjoy memories in the making!

Holding Out Gift

Give of yourself

Your time. Your resources. Your kindness. For many people during the holiday season and year-round, these are the most precious of gifts. Give as a family this year: Volunteer at a homeless shelter or a senior center, send a care package to a soldier far away from home, gather up clothes and household items you no longer use and donate them to an organization helping those in need. You’ll discover the age-old adage is true: It is more rewarding to give than to receive. Here are more ways to give back.

There is a world of other holiday traditions out there. Share your faves in the comments below!

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