My Ten Favorite Holiday Traditions
December 12, 2012

It is that time of the year, when people start counting down and making lists of things they love, hate or don't care for! There is a top ten everywhere I see - TV, radio, internet articles etc.

Feeling a little left out of the fun everyone was having, I made my "top ten" countdown of my favorite ways people do special things during the holiday season. I asked my friends, family and my kids' friends and got this list together.

#10 - Start the "Elf on a Shelf" tradition. I have no patience to actually work on this but I love watching my friends' pictures every morning. Some of them are hilarious and some teach a lesson or two of good behavior to the kids. I also love visiting this website for my dose of morning Smile :-)

#9 - Have a picnic! My friend, Laura, has a midnight picnic with her family every New Year's Eve. They have been doing this for 9 years now. She had big plans to go out and party with Dave and celebrate their first New Year being married. They were in the middle of moving apartments and stressed. So they decided to have simple comfort food on their living room floor, just enjoying each other's company. Now, three children and a puppy later, they still have a dinner picnic every December 31st!

#8 - Write to your friends. Letter writing is becoming a lost art and we try our best to preserve it during the holiday season. A lot of our friends who work at universities move to different countries and their kids learn different languages and about different cultures. However, they miss home and friends here. We write detailed letters in the beginning of December so that they can open and read them for Christmas or New Years.

#7 - Go out for breakfast. My daughter's friend goes out with her family for breakfast every Christmas Day. They go to their local family owned pancake and coffee place right round the corner. They make the best toffee stuffed pancakes and golden brown waffles. They have a long day ahead of them with long drives and visiting their grandparents and probably a long night with a lot of excitement. So, going out for breakfast seems like a perfect way to start the day. No cooking for mommy and no dishes for daddy - just sticky, gooey, yumminess!

#6 - Call family or Skype! A lot of us have family across the country. Some of us have family members serving our country abroad. You want to be with your family for New Years but unfortunately, you can't always have it that way. My friend Brad's wife is out for work a lot during the holiday season so she makes the best use of technology and has a date with her husband every New Year's Eve. They video chat and "share" a meal together.

#5 - Enjoy the snow and paint it rainbow colors. Who would not like a white Christmas that is postcard perfect? Everyone does, and fortunately, where we live, we get it most years. But trust me, snow in rainbow colors is even more fun! I love to fill paint and water in cheap squirt bottles and we decorate our front yard snow in pretty colors. Make sure you keep the walkway clear because the water freezes and gets slippery. Our squirt bottles are our sidewalk chalk for snowy days.

#4 - Go sightseeing holiday lights in your area. Our town website has a list of the best decorated houses in the town. We sit and make a nice map and sometime between Christmas and New Years, we get inside our van, turn up the radio and drive around following our route. Watching the beautiful lights with the holiday music playing softly, has a magical feeling! We saw this house last year and voted it our favorite.

#3 - Gift yourself and your family a Slideshow from Smiling Snaps. I know some of my clients have made my customized holiday slideshows their annual family tradition. I get their orders and pictures towards the end of the year, just in time for me to deliver a sentimental New Years gift for their family. They have aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins living across the country. It is a great way to let people know how things have been in the past one year and to include a special wish to celebrate their holiday. Just perfect!

#2 - Shower them with kindness! For the last 14 years Elana and her family of five beautiful girls have given up Hanukkah gifts and for a night, they invite friends, neighbors and co workers over to celebrate and collect toys. Their first year, they threw a huge Jewish Mexican fiesta in Arizona, with Latkes and Enchiladas and collected 150 toys. They now help the Snowpile charity program hosted for patients at Children's Hospital in Detroit, MI and have collected to donate over 2500 toys during these years!

#1 - Discuss your ups and down. I am not a big fan of New Year resolutions, because mine don't last more than a month :-) However, I put this on #1, because the end of the year is a great time to reflect back on the past year and look forward to the next. One of my friends has this amazing family tradition of sitting around the coffee table on the last day of the year to discuss everyone's highs and lows of the year and the reasons behind it. They discuss about how they would do things different the next year. They keep the conversation light, mostly over dessert and coffee!

Do you have any unique family traditions you would like to share? Let me know - I would love to hear from you!

Thank you and Keep Smiling!

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