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

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!

Rules:

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 BlogHer.com, where you can read other bloggersí posts and find more chances to win!

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Comments

  1. Dee — December 22, 2012 @ 5:11 pm (#)
  2. Wild Orchid — December 22, 2012 @ 5:50 pm (#)

    I love playing board games with my family!

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

  3. Wild Orchid — December 22, 2012 @ 5:50 pm (#)

    tweet–https://twitter.com/WildOrchid985/status/282634221149888512

  4. sy — December 22, 2012 @ 8:29 pm (#)

    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

  5. sy — December 22, 2012 @ 8:31 pm (#)
  6. Michelle P. — December 22, 2012 @ 11:07 pm (#)

    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.

  7. Amy L — December 23, 2012 @ 7:53 am (#)
  8. Ashley C — December 23, 2012 @ 12:28 pm (#)

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

    demureprincess7(at)gmail(dot)com

  9. Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious — December 24, 2012 @ 5:38 pm (#)

    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!

  10. rebecca shockley — December 24, 2012 @ 10:47 pm (#)

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

  11. rebecca shockley — December 24, 2012 @ 10:48 pm (#)
  12. Lisa — December 25, 2012 @ 11:26 am (#)

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

  13. Jasmine A — December 26, 2012 @ 9:01 am (#)

    Thanks for hosting this awesome giveaway!!

  14. cw — December 26, 2012 @ 12:50 pm (#)

    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

  15. Kim C. — December 27, 2012 @ 10:21 pm (#)

    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.

  16. Kim C. — December 27, 2012 @ 10:23 pm (#)
  17. Lynn — December 27, 2012 @ 11:12 pm (#)

    Laughing together and enjoying one another’s company!

  18. Tabathia B — December 28, 2012 @ 4:56 pm (#)

    baking gingerbread house with the kids

    tbarrettno1 at gmail dot com

  19. Tabathia B — December 28, 2012 @ 4:59 pm (#)