5 Fun and Easy Holiday Traditions to Start This Year

The holiday season is a time to spend with family, friends, and loved ones, building special memories centered on unique traditions and experiences. Traditions are important to help you bond (or reconnect) with special people in your life, and can make your relationship and the season that much more special. Here are five traditions that you can start this year to make your holidays sparkle!

Search for the Pickle!

The search for the holiday pickle, or Die Weihnachtsgurke, is a German-American tradition in which a blown glass pickle ornament is hidden somewhere on the Christmas tree for children to find. As tradition dictates, the pickle is the last ornament placed by the parents on the tree on Christmas Eve, and the first child to find the pickle on Christmas morning gets a small extra gift. Growing up, my family took part in this tradition and celebrated quite similarly: my parents would hide the pickle (or pickles, as the years went on) just after dinner on Christmas Eve, and my sister and I would rush out to the tree just before bed to find it. Whoever found it first would get to open the “pickle present”—a gift that was to be shared between the two of us. Whatever way you choose to partake in this tradition, it’s a fun one!

Create a holiday card tree

Most families send out a family card during the Christmas season, but more often than not, once delivered, those cards are read once or twice and then forgotten or lost. This year, proudly display all the beautiful cards you receive in the mail on a holiday card tree! The tree itself can be handmade and as simple as a wooden frame with clothes hangers hot-glued on (making a holiday card tree would itself be a fun project!) For those not-so-handy types, holiday card trees are available at many craft and home-goods stores.

Go sledding/ice skating/winter walking

One of my favorite more recently adopted holiday traditions is spending time outside. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, try getting the family outside for a jaunt at the skating rink or local sledding hill. If you live in a warmer climate without snow and ice, or simply don’t like winter sports, try going for a walk through your neighborhood and breathing in the winter air. Try keeping the dates consistent from year to year—an ice skating trip the Saturday before Christmas, or a walk on Christmas Eve after dinner or religious services. Whatever the activity, getting outside will surely make the season more festive!

Check out the local holiday lights

This holiday season, create some time to gather the whole family together and pile in the car for a look at some holiday lights. For extra holiday fun, create a specific playlist for the occasion and let it rock while taking in the sights! Many cities have special holiday light shows that you can walk or drive through, often accompanied by music, which can help to create lovely lasting memories. But even if there isn’t a special holiday light show near you, getting the family together and driving around surrounding neighborhoods to appreciate the holiday spirit will be sure to bring everyone closer together.

Make special meals

Perhaps the easiest tradition to start is a basic one: food. Try to consistently prepare a special meal for Christmas Eve, Christmas morning, or Christmas dinner! If you aren’t up for cooking on Christmas morning, consider going out for Christmas breakfast as a family! Growing up, my family always prepared fettuccine alfredo for Christmas Eve dinner, and I still celebrate that tradition. Try thinking up meals that are special to you and your family in some way (Is this someone’s favorite dish? Did you have a particularly good version at a restaurant three Christmas mornings ago?), and they will be all the more memorable.