10 minute read.
Christmas is not over yet folks! The great thing about the holiday season is that it lasts until after January 1, especially if your kids are on Christmas break from school.
Holiday traditions are an important part of being a family, regardless of whether you choose to observe the holiday season or not. Traditions give you meaningful, rich, and cherished memories for the rest of your life. So, be sure to make some good ones for your kids to remember!
Family traditions can be as simple as game night, eating your favorite snack foods, sharing a holiday meal, volunteering at your local food bank, nursing home, or homeless shelter, or just playing in the snow. These can be outdoor or indoor activities. It can involve music, singing, crafts, or games.
Over years, we’ve developed our own favorite ideas and fun activities, and wanted to share them with you in case it gives you any ideas you hadn’t thought of. We hope that this year’s holidays bring you and your family much joy, love and treasured moments.
This is a relatively new thing for the holidays. The first time I used it was December 2006. It was started by OfficeMax, but was later bought out by Office Depot. It is powered by the eCard-based site JibJab, which lets users create up to five elves using personal photos that will dance in a brief video.
They have a variety of entertaining musical numbers to watch yourself on, including genres of hip hop, pop, country, rock, classic and other types of music. The site is really easy to use.
You just upload a JPEG or PNG photo from your computer or Facebook account, or take one with your webcam. You can zoom and rotate the photo to make the photo fit on the elf’s face.
You haven’t lived until you see Mom do the splits or Dad jumping over a Christmas cat! Now, that’s a presentation.
Photo Credit: http://www.nickburcher.com/2014/11/elf-yourself-2014-at-elfyourselfcom.html
Photo Credit: https://mulpix.com/instagram/elfyourself_cats.html
Some of these are priceless. And some of these are weird. Some of these are just…wow (and not in a good way). Think train wreck in the worst possible way, and yet the subjects in the photo have no clue anything is wrong.
Awkward Family Photos has collected all the painfully awkward holiday pictures and posted them for your enjoyment. Have a gawk and try not to fall on the floor laughing.
It’s almost as awkward as public speaking with no experience. I think we can all relate to that feeling at one time or another.
Maybe you even have a few of your own photos at home in the family album that make you either bust a gut every time you see them, or just makes your jaw drop in astonishment.
6) Driving Around and Looking at Christmas Lights
It takes a little bit of gas, but if you live in a town or city that is full of holiday cheer, you’re likely to find some spectacular light shows in neighborhood yards. Some people go really wild with decorations.
Photo Credit: https://www.pinterest.com/explore/best-christmas-light-displays
If you are not able to get outside, the site below is really cool because it makes this holiday tradition easier by letting you search up Christmas lights anywhere.
Christmas Light Finder
Also, check this great resource if you are looking for spectacular community light shows:
30 Great Places to See Holiday Lights
And my favorite place in the Midwest is right here! They really put on a spectacular presentation every year.
Rotary Lights in La Crosse, Wisconsin
Photo Credit: http://www.rotarylights.org
Nothing beats the real thing when you drive (or better yet, walk!) and take in all the beautiful sites in person. Also for all you runners out there, if it’s not too frigid, make a point to run in the evening when all the lights are brightest.
My daughter loves this little gem created by the fellas at Google. There are tons of games to play with elves in jet packs, rolling gumballs, sleighs powered by rockets, and Google Cardboard.
Once the 24th arrives, follow Santa on his journey as he leaves the North Pole and delivers presents to children around the world. The program is in the tradition of the September 1897 editorial “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” in the New York Sun.
4) Watching Classic Christmas Movies
There are a ton of Christmas classics out there, and the list keeps getting bigger and bigger every year. Even though there are all based on opinion, there is a lot of merit in the selections that made people’s lists. Below is my list of favorite holiday classics. They are mostly old flicks, but there are a few newer ones in there that leave me gasping in wonder or laughing my ass off.
4.1) (#15) The Polar Express (2004)
Robert Zemeckis did a pretty good job with CG for the time period, but dang, some of those images are just creepy beyond all belief! Still, it’s not a bad flick, and I enjoyed the story and music. Tom Hanks’ versatility is amazing!
4.2) (#14) Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)
This is a nice heart-warming attempt by the folks at Disney to breathe some new life into the old classic and create some Christmas magic for the kiddies. Lovely adaptation with the classic Disney characters.
The sadness that Mickey feels at the death of Tiny Tim is portrayed with unbelievable realism. And that’s saying a lot for 2 dimensional cartoon characters.
4.3) (#13) Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Great film that stands the test of time. Natalie Wood was outstanding as little Susan Walker, and Edmund Gwenn was great as jolly old St. Nick. There is a good message in there. I highly recommend it.
4.4) (#12) Scrooged (1988)
This is one of the best of all time for Bill Murray and also for Christmas parodies. There are too many hilarious moments to mention, but pay particular attention to Bobcat Goldthwait and Carol Kane. Love it!
4.5) (#11) A Christmas Carol (1951)
There have been many versions of this classic over the years, but this one has to be my favorite. It just has that old England feel and grittiness that I love. Allister Sim is absolutely incredible. For a guy his age, how does he have so much energy?!
4.6) (#10) Elf (2003)
It was an instant classic when it came out, and continues to be on everyone’s classic Christmas movie list. What I love about this one is Will Ferrell. Wow, this guy always impresses me with comedic timing. Love him or hate him, he gets the great parts in movies for a reason. This is one of his best.
Supporting cast with James Caan, Zooey Deschanel, Mary Steenburgen, and Bob Newhart is awesome!
4.7) (#9) Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
The original How the Grinch Stole Christmas is charming, colorful, heart-warming and hilarious. Written by Dr. Seuss and narrated by the late great Boris Karloff. It hooked me when I first saw it, and I always want to see it again every Christmas with my kids.
The remake with Jim Carrey in 2000, well I’m not a big fan. It has it’s funny moments, but it just doesn’t have the magic of the original version.
4.8) (#8) The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Tim Burton had a vision for Nightmare Before Christmas, and wow he delivered! One of the best visual feasts I have ever seen. It is original, daring, edgy, funny, and ghoulishly fun with just the right mix of Halloween and Christmas. The graphics will dazzle and amaze, and it definitely stands the test of time.
It’s no surprise that Burton also gave us Batman, Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands, and none of those were conventional ideas either. His images are weird, awesome, and off the wall. Just a brilliant addition to the Christmas classics.
4.9) (#7) Frosty the Snowman (1969)
This is one of only four 1960’s animated holiday specials still shown every year on the major television networks. The other three are “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
Jimmy Durante narrates this Rankin/Bass special, and the whole story has the look and feel of a Christmas card. I hate it when Frosty turns into a puddle, but love it when he gets reanimated into a living snowman again by Santa.
4.10) (#6) A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
No Christmas classic collection would be complete without ol’ Chuck, the original “blockhead.” How can you not love the Peanuts gang with Linus, Lucy, Sally, Schroeder, Peppermint Patty, and of course Snoopy. It still makes me laugh to this day. Good grief, I’m getting old!
4.11) (#5) National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
If you like the raunchier stuff, nothing satisfies like classic Chevy Chase. With a powerhouse cast like Beverly D’Angelo, Juliette Lewis, Doris Roberts, Johnny Galecki, and Randy Quaid, how can you miss?
My favorite tirade ever:
“Hey. If any of you are looking for any last-minute gift ideas for me, I have one. I’d like Frank Shirley, my boss, right here tonight. I want him brought from his happy holiday slumber over there on Melody Lane with all the other rich people and I want him brought right here with a big ribbon on his head! And I want to look him straight in the eye, and tell him what a cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, dickless, hopeless, heartless, fat-assed, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed, sack of monkey shit he is! Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where’s the Tylenol?”
4.12) (#4) A Christmas Story (1983)
Gotta love Ralphy! Set in 1940’s Cleveland, Ohio, A Christmas Story is about a young boy and his quest to get the coolest Christmas present any 8 year old boy could ever receive. A Red Rider BB gun!
Through his adventures and mishaps along the way with the school bully, Flick gets his tongue stuck to the pole, a visit to a mall Santa goes horribly wrong, and the Christmas turkey turns into a disaster. We get to see all the laughs and tears that a typical family with children goes through at Christmas. My favorite part — the leg lamp!
4.13) (#3) Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
The Claymation graphics in this movie are kind of laughable by today’s standards, but the story is endearing and it teaches people about the ugly duckling syndrome. It is still considered one of the great classics even after 50 years. Some funny scenes are in there, and my favorite character is Yukon Cornelius.
4.14) (#2) The Sound of Music (1965)
Even though it’s not really a Christmas movie, it is played on television around Christmas every year since it came out. The song My Favorite Things reminds us all of Christmas. And it is just an epic movie. Period.
4.15) (#1) It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Considered THE greatest classic Christmas movie of all time by many people, Jimmy Stewart is impeccable as George Bailey in the story about a tortured soul who almost commits suicide and is saved by a bumbling angel named Clarence.
Well, you know the story. And if you don’t know the story, go see it you big weirdo! You might the only one who hasn’t seen it yet. It’s only been around since 1946!
3) Making Christmas Cookies
It’s pretty universal when the Christmas season comes around that cookies will be made by someone. No one says, “Do you think they’ll have cookies?” Some of the best recipes for classic Christmas cookies are found everywhere online.
There’s really nothing to it. It’s quick and easy to make, but the best part is making them with kids. Just watch their eyes light up when you ask them to help you make cookies, especially toddlers and primary school kids.
Watch them go ballistic when you ask them to help decorate the cookies, and best of all, when they you ask them to eat the cookies!
Here are a few recipes and ideas to get you started:
The 85 Most Delish Christmas Cookies
But don’t stop at cookies. If you are already indulging, have a blast and explore your Christmas curiosity for other things like hot chocolate, fudge, eggnog, and candy!
And don’t fret about splurging a bit. You can get right back to healthy eating and exercise after the hoopla has blown over.
2) Sledding, Skating, Skiing, and Snowman Building
What are you waiting for? Get out there in the snow and live it up. Life is too short to shiver and shake over the cold winter months. We have winter gear for a reason. I’ve done all of these activities at one time or another in my life and made some great memories in the process with family and friends.
Sledding, skating, skiing, and snowman building are awesome in winter! Another great activity that doesn’t take much effort other than walking is snowshoeing.
Here are some great tips for cross country skiing:
1) Playing Classic Board Games
Family time would not be complete without playing some good old fashioned board games! You know you are engaged with your family when board games are involved. Forget the smartphone apps and high res computer games.
Put down your screens and feel some board game fever. We didn’t have much money when I was growing up, so we had to make the best with what we had. Sometimes we just made up games with a piece of paper and a pencil.
Here are some of the favorites I used to play as a kid:
Chutes and Ladders
Tic Tac Toe
Photo Credit: https://www.emaze.com
Some board games I play today with my kids:
Chutes and Ladders
Apples to Apples
For more ideas, take a look at this:
Best Board Games of All Time
This is by no means a definitive or exhaustive list. Let us know what your favorite holiday traditions are.
If you liked this article, comment and sign up for the free newsletter. We’d love for you to get free stuff! Also, share this post with your friends and family on your favorite social media app.
More great stuff on writing, research, design, interviews, presentations, and public speaking coming your way.