rekindle your holidays: music traditions {$50 starbucks giftcard giveaway}

December 18, 2012 by Ali

Our family caroling last week – December 2012.

For part two of our series on celebrating the holidays, we turn to one of my family’s favorite traditions around the holidays — music!

It’s no secret that I love music, but I don’t know if I’ve ever told you how much the rest of my family loves music. As you can see from the sweet photo above of my grandparents and their five kids (see my dad as the cutie in the bottom-right corner?), singing has been a part of our family for generations. My dad is a happy tenor and back-in-the-day-drummer, my mom is a gifted piano player, my sister sings soprano (and happily in the shower, I might add) and can rock an oboe, and Yours Truly has run the gamut from opera, to rock, to folk, and just about everything in between.

Our family loves music. But I especially love how much music was a part of our family traditions growing up. Now as adults, it has been fun to see how that has continued in old and new ways. (Especially with technology!)

So whether your idea of holiday music is singing carols in church, cranking up Michael Buble on Spotify, or smiling at the “fa ra ra ra ra” on A Christmas Story, here are a few more ideas to celebrate the holidays with music!

A classic family photo of my dad’s family caroling. (He’s the cute smiley one in the lower right-hand corner.)

Go A-Caroling!

One of my absolute favorite musical holiday traditions is our family’s annual Christmas caroling night. Ever since we were little tikes, our grandparents would take all 25 family members on my dad’s side of the family out for a night of “Jingle Bells”, “The First Noel”, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”, and whatever zillion other favorites that the first person calls out. Not everyone in our large family would probably consider themselves “musical”, but as Buddy The Elf says, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” So singing quietly is not an option in our family.

The best thing about caroling, though, is seeing the way people’s faces light up when a favorite song begins. We have caroled in countless nursing homes and, having had a Grandpa live for a decade with and then pass away from Alzheimer’s, the dementia units were always close to our hearts. I can’t tell you the number of times we would sing while holding the hand of a patient who could no longer remember her own name, but then see her lips begin to move to the chorus of “Silent Night” or “Joy To The World”. The power of music and the power of these songs that have been around for centuries is profound. And at least for me, singing these songs together with loved ones is the truest meaning of the word heartwarming.

So even if you have never caroled before, it is so simple! Just round up a group of friends or family, call a local nursing home or homeless shelter or even go knock on the door of some neighbors or homebound friends. And then just SING. You don’t need to sing well, you don’t need to know all of the verses, and it doesn’t need to last for hours. Just sing a few songs that you love, and invite others to sing along. If you would feel better knowing all of the words and having a plan, you can totally print off some easy lyric sheets beforehand. But otherwise, just go for it. And tell me if you do, because I would love to hear how it goes.

Dust off those old music books!

As a piano teacher, I happen to know for a fact that statistically most of you out there took piano or other musical instrument lessons out there as a kid. And I would bet that many of you have a piano or your instrument of choice somewhere in your home, hopefully not collecting too much dust. Even if you only get it out to play once a year, holiday songs are some of the most fun to play.

So drop by your local music store and grab a book (trust me, they have tons this time of year), and then take an evening to play or sing some holiday tunes! It will be great practice, and you might also find that you want to play those instruments more during other times of the year.

Make your favorite playlists…for free!

Sure, you can always buy songs on iTunes or even pick up hardcopy cds or records of your favorite holiday songs, but if you are looking for some new holiday music, there are so many resources out there now where you can listen to new music for free! Two of my favorites are Pandora and Spotify.

In case you haven’t heard of it, Pandora is an awesome site for creating easy playlists around the artists you love (and then finding new artists in the process!). But I especially love them around the holidays because they have some stellar holiday stations! They have something for just about everyone, including 14 different stations ranging from Classical Christmas, to Country Christmas, to Hanukkah, and everything in between. My three favorites are “Indie Holidays”, “Gospel Christmas” and simply “Christmas”.

Another favorite is Spotify. As opposed to Pandora, you can actually choose which specific song you would like to listen to on Spotify. (And you can listen to it as many times as you’d like!) It is also a social site, so you can check recommendations from your friends or other people you’d like to follow for their favorite holiday tunes.

Go support live music

Nearly every choir, orchestra, band and musical group puts on a Christmas concert each December. And often, those can be some of their primary fundraisers of the year. So whether or not you know someone in the group, grab a friend and go enjoy an evening’s performance of some beautiful holiday music. Usually there’s no singing required.

$50 Starbucks Gift Card Giveaway:

How To Enter:

What do you like best about spending time with your family during the holidays? †Leave a comment below and you’ll be entered to win a $50 Starbucks gift card!


No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  • a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  • b) Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  • c) Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  • d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 12/18/12 to 12/28/12.

Visit the Starbucks brand page on, where you can read other bloggersí posts and find more chances to win!

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About Ali

Ali Ebright is a freelance recipe developer and food writer/photographer, and blogs at Gimme Some Oven and Gimme Some Life. She also loves all things music, traveling near and far, actually making things from Pinterest, cozying up with a good book and her sweet pup, Henry, and spending time with a wonderful group of friends. Come say hello and follow Ali on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ & Instagram.

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119 thoughts on “rekindle your holidays: music traditions {$50 starbucks giftcard giveaway}

  1. tweet
    tbarrettno1 at gmail dot com

    - Tabathia B

  2. baking gingerbread house with the kids

    tbarrettno1 at gmail dot com

    - Tabathia B

  3. Laughing together and enjoying one another’s company!

    - Lynn

  4. I tweeted about the promotion.

    - Kim C.

  5. What I like best about the Holidays is that I’m usually seeing family that I haven’t seen in awhile so just being able to see them, spend some time with them and catch up is something I look forward to each year.

    - Kim C.

  6. I love the laughs and memories that come up when going through the decorations. I love getting together for fondue on xmas night and making the santa cookies

    - cw

  7. Thanks for hosting this awesome giveaway!!

    - Jasmine A

  8. Christmas Eve service of Carols & Bells, then celebrating my daughter’s birthday on the 26th makes the holidays extra-merry and bright!

    - Lisa

  9. I like catching up on everyone’s lives and taking new photo’s!

    - rebecca shockley

  10. I’ve never actually had carolers come to my door and I’ve never went caroling either! But that really needs to change this year!

    Thanks for the awesome giveaway, Ali! I love spending time with the family and playing with my little niece and nephews!

    - Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious

  11. I love making new memories and seeing the wonder and excitement on my kids’ faces :)


    - Ashley C

  12. What I enjoy most about spending time with family at Christmas, is that it is just our little family of 4, with my two young kids, and we have been able to establish our own special traditions. We aren’t traveling or hosting anyone, and we have been able to develop some meaningful traditions.

    - Michelle P.

  13. During holidays when I visit family we play games together, cook together, it’s always a lot of fun. Thanks for the giveaway!
    songyueyu at gmail

    - sy

  14. tweet–

    - Wild Orchid

  15. I love playing board games with my family!

    Thanks for the chance to win!
    wildorchid985 at gmail dot com

    - Wild Orchid

  16. I like caroling and then baking treats with them! :)

    - Dee

  17. I like just relaxing at home with the family and not having any activities to have to rush to!

    - Kerry

  18. I like playing games together and cooking with my family.

    - Madeline

  19. My daughters have to make me wait until after Thanksgiving to start my Christmas music. I have to get a new album (dating myself here) every year.

    - Judy

  20. I love making cookies for Santa with my son. He’s autistic so he doesn’t want to touch anything or even eat the cookies (he’s that picky!) but he still gets so excited.

    - Beth C.

  21. tweeted –

    - Stefanie Gladden ( Ann Lyfe )

  22. i love watching christmas movies with my family

    - Stefanie Gladden ( Ann Lyfe )

  23. Forming lasting memories for my husband and I, even though our young sons are too little to remember it all.

    - Ali

  24. My favorite part of spending time with my family generally comes late in the night, usually over dessert, coffee, and hot cocoa, when the nostalgic stories are retold. Inevitable, we drag out the baby pictures and home videos. We always end up laughing so hard we cry. I wouldn’t trade these times for anything in the entire world.

    - Kelsey

  25. Loving baking, watching movies and chatting together.

    - Jessie C.

  26. I love spending time cooking a big meal together for Christmas Eve, stuffing ourselves silly, then sitting around hanging out after. Love just being with the family!

    - Karen

  27. I love seeing all of my extended family who I don’t see that often!

    - Angelyn @ Everyday Desserts

  28. I look forward to relaxing and catching up. We’re always so busy.

    - Brandy

  29. I love baking cookies and riding bikes with my six year old nephew!

    - Ttrockwood

  30. I just love having my husband home for a couple of days without him having to go to work/answer his phone/check his emails. It’s the one time of year we get to spend as a family.

    - Heloise

  31. What I like best about spending time with your family during the holidays is that I don’t see them muhc the rest fo the year.

    - Eugenie

  32. I love when the kids are home from school, the gifts are purchased, and we can all relax. Favorite way to chill as a family is to watch a Christmas movie together.

    - Kristen M.

  33. We like to bake at the holidays.

    - Sarah

  34. I love gathering around the kitchen and talking and laughing with all the wonderful women in my family. Great food and conversation make the holidays the best!

    - Gillian

  35. I love playing games with my family and eating a warm meal together!

    - Chelsea

  36. My favorite thing is being in the kitchen preparing the meals we share! It gets loud and crazy but its always fun.

    - Shauna M.

  37. We always cook breakfast as a family on Christmas morning and go all out-biscuits and gravy, hash browns, eggs, bacon, etc. Then we open presents and play games the rest of the day. Of course, there is Christmas music in the background from the second we wake up!

    - Christine Capp

  38. We like to play games and eat! :) We’re not a very musical family, but your tradition sounds fun

    - rachel

  39. I love it when my boys are home for break and we can spend time together!

    - Barb

  40. I love watching Christmas movies with my family at the holidays.

    - Alyssa

  41. I just enjoy seeing family I haven’t seen in a while.

    - Dan Polley (@polleydan)

  42. i love when i finally get a break from school in which during this time i am able to spend more time with my family listening to christmas music, baking,cooking, and eating XD

    - Jessika

  43. It is great to be reminded that you have strong family who loves and cares for you, who you can fall back on no matter where life takes you!

    - Blessie Nelson

  44. I love catching up on everyone’s lives and eating with them.

    - Rachel

  45. I love how giddy and excited the kids get as Christmas approaches.

    - Rachel H

  46. I love that we laugh — a lot!

    - domestic diva

  47. Actually seeing each other! We don’t see each other much during the year and Facebook doesn’t cut it. Many of my cousins’ birthdays fall around Christmas, so after we go months without interaction, we’ll get together every weekend for 2 months!

    - Aimee M

  48. Getting together to play games and put together puzzles.

    - Andrea

  49. I like having meals together and catching up on our lives!

    - Corey

  50. Having hot pot for dinner!

    - Jenny

  51. Every Christmas day we go to my mom’s house for Christmas Lasagna and then we play CatchPhrase, which is always hysterical – it’s simple but such a laid-back silly way to spend an evening enjoying each other’s company :)

    - Amanda

  52. I just love the time off we have from work and being busy…it’s just comforting to be with my hubby and my son, all cozy, just us.

    - AMY C

  53. I love hearing all the family stories of Christmas past, the ones I was part of and the ones long long before me.

    - Audrey B.

  54. Visiting with my family & eating favorite Christmas food!

    - Suzanne

  55. I like retelling funny stories.

    - Ashley H

  56. Well, I won’t be with my family this year, but I love that I have the technology to still “see” them.

    - Sara

  57. Christmas eve traditions of eating homemade tamales, chips, and salsa! yum!

    - Ashley Gonzales

  58. Relaxing and watching all the holiday specials.

    - Rachel

  59. I love watching old home videos with my family!

    - Stef

  60. Annnd tweeted. I would LOVE a few extra cups of latte in the new year!

    - Jennica Bridgman

  61. I love going for quiet walks in the snow!

    - sara

  62. I love being able to relax with family, watch cheesy Christmas movies, and make an abundance of fattening foods and treats.

    - Jennica Bridgman

  63. I just love spending time with them since we don’t live in the same city. We are a food family,. so naturally we love sharing food with one another!

    - fabiola@notjustbaked

  64. Watching holiday movies with my fireplace on is my favorite. Would love to enjoy this with a cup of Starbucks chai or hot chocolate!

    - Miriam Maya

  65. the best part of spending time with family at the holidays is everyone is in a good mood. no discussions of politics or religion…pretty much the conversations stick to talking about good deeds they heard about or did themselves…or what gifts they got so and so. the christmas visit always starts well and ends better!

    - kat

  66. I love watching Christmas movies with the fire going and hot chocolate in hand!

    - Laura (Tutti Dolci)

  67. I enjoy seeing my kids happy as they interact with their grandparents, aunts & uncles.

    - Kelly D

  68. What I like best is being all together. Everyone is happy just being together.

    - Carrie

  69. I like just relaxing and catching up. Also, torturing my husband with A Christmas Story. :)

    - Melis

  70. Christmas is the only time of year when my immediate family is all in the same place…usually we’re in multiple countries so we don’t have too many other opportunities to get together despite that there’s only 3 of us!

    - Teresa

  71. We have 7 small children in the family now, up from only 2 last year! Can’t wait to met them at Christmas Eve :)

    - Emily C

  72. I like that we can just relax and enjoy being together

    - Elena

  73. My favorite tradition is having the Christmas Elves visit our family the night before Christmas Eve with their magic Pajamas to help them sleep through the night before Christmas. Plus it’s nice to have festive Pj’s for Christmas morning pictures!

    - Liz

  74. watching white christmas!

    - kristin

  75. I love making gingerbread houses and our Christmas eve tradition of eating tamales after church!!

    - little kitchie

  76. Baking cookies and just playing board games or going outside (even in the cold) and playing football and or sledding (if it is snowy too).

    - Maureen

  77. I love watching Christmas Vacation and my entire family quoting all the best lines at the same time! Also, hot buttered rum as a wake-up drink on Christmas morning :)

    - Kristen

  78. watching Christmas movies!

    - Mireya

  79. Simply relaxing without too much other responsibility!

    - Kara D

  80. I love seeing everyone at once. It’s rare we all get to be together!

    - Meg

  81. This is our first Christmas as parents, and I’m looking forward to watching Clara open presents (or, you know, just try to eat the wrapping paper). ;)

    - Courtney

  82. I love the cooking and the baking.

    - Kathleen

  83. Eating! And relaxing with the dog.

    - emily

  84. We don’t do this any more, but when I was younger, we used to sit around the table and sing Christmas carols. It was a lot of fun.

    - Shannon

  85. I love cooking with my mom!

    - MeLisa

  86. Playing games like Apples to Apples and more recently probably to my mother’s chagrin, Cards Against Humanity.

    - Laura R

  87. I love relaxing and playing family board games while eating homemade snacks with my family!

    - Natalie S

  88. That is a really hard question. My family lives far apart, so one of the things I like the best is that we just all want to relax around the fire and enjoy each other’s company!

    - Becky B

  89. I love to cook and bake with my family during the holidays!

    - Heather Hicks

  90. Looking at Christmas lights and all of the Christmas traditions!

    - Tricia

  91. I love most about the holidays — the food. Come on! There is GREAT food & you have an excuse to eat whatever “it’s the holidays”

    Oh and there are also these 2 adorable kids that call me Auntie. They make it all special too!

    - Keri-Danielle

  92. I love getting together to enjoy each other’s company!!

    - jill

  93. My favorite thing about spending time with my family during the holidays is the time spent baking and laughing in the kitchen!

    - Talia

  94. I like being with family because my love language is quality time. It doesn’t matter what we’re doing, I just like to be together.

    - Amy

  95. I live out of state, so just hanging out with my family, chatting and catching up, is wonderful.

    - Katie

  96. Making gingerbread houses!

    - Amy G

  97. tweet–

    - Mami2jcn

  98. I like relaxing and taking it easy, without having to rush off anywhere.

    - Mami2jcn

  99. I enjoy making cookies with family. thanks!

    - Kel

  100. I love being the kitchen, dressed up in holiday aprons and cooking/baking/cleaning for HOURS alongside my momma!

    - Angela

  101. I love curling up on the sofa watching a cheesy holiday movie with the hubs.

    - ladywild

  102. My siblings fly in from DC (sister) and Philly (brother), so we are all together for one of the few times in the year!

    - Jacqui

  103. I love just having time away from work and my normal schedule to spend watching movies and drinking hot chocolate with the family!

    - Carolyn

  104. i love it when we all break out our respective instruments and just play. :)

    - grace

  105. I love the opportunity to tell old family stories, often hearing them with fresh ears when someone else chimes in with their own perspective on what really happened.

    - Jenny