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

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My little sis (on the left) and I rocking the homemade Christmas light sweaters, circa 1988.

This week, I am excited to be sharing a 3-part series with you devoted to celebrating the holidays.

I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t matter how many holiday seasons I have lived through, how many conversations I’ve had over the years about how to “simplify” and slow things down, or what great intentions I may have. Decembers are simply always busy. Usually “good” busy. But busy nonetheless. So amidst the hustle and bustle, I will always take any reminders or ideas to heart for bringing back the meaning and joy of the season. Each year I am grateful that those reminders often come through traditions — both those that my family made for us growing up, and those that I have created on my own. And in my life, those traditions often revolve around family, music and giving.

So today we begin with family! Whether your family lives near or far, whether you have a big family or small, whether you are the young grandchild or the eldest patriarch or matriarch, hopefully a few of these ideas might help get your ready for the holidays with those you love.

Sled time with the cousins…with Yours Truly crying up a storm in the middle. Proud moment.

Break out the photo albums!

Your family may get along famously and enjoy every minute together. But whether you do, or whether that might not be the case, there is something about the magic of cracking open those weathered photos from the 80’s and seeing an earnest smile beneath sky-high poofy bangs that will bring joy to just about any room. Especially as someone with a terrible memory, looking through photo albums and then hearing the stories that accompany them is such a fun way to remember and celebrate good moments from the past. Even awkward teenage memories lose their edge a bit when you see how ridiculous awesome you looked in those big blue glasses.

So grab some photo albums and a family member (and better — grab a new family member to join in!), and take a trip down memory lane. (And then remind yourself to get those photos converted to digital after Christmas so that they will really stand the test of time!)

Break out the good eats!

As a food blogger, I hear from so many people who super-stress over cooking the perfect holiday meal. But if I’ve learned anything from helping entertain and cook around the holidays, the last thing you need is extra stress. Especially over a Christmas ham. My recommendation is always to do what you can do and still have time to hang with those you love and sleep.

So if you find yourself cooking for a huge crowd with little time to prepare, do not volunteer to do all of the work!! T his is not the time to prove yourself. This is time to enjoy your time with family. So if you need to delegate, delegate. If you need to keep things simple, go simple. If you want to go gourmet, go gourmet. If you want to do delivery or go out, there are now tons of amazing options out there.

Our family’s tradition is to have a big meal that everyone helps make on Christmas Eve. And then our immediate family enjoys monkey bread for breakfast and a shrimp peel for lunch on Christmas Day. One big feast, one quick and simple. And both provide plenty of leftovers so that you can kick back and relax the next few days (one of our favorite traditions).

Break out the board games!

Turn off the tv, and put those phones down. This is not Words with Friends.

Go and grab a real live Scrabble board, or Monopoly, or Settlers, or a deck of cards, or whatever your fam may have. Even if you haven’t played together in years, games are such a fun way to get everyone to interact and see everyone’s personalities come through. You will inevitably have someone who is a hard-and-fast rule abider, someone who wants to talk and always misses when it’s their turn, someone who wants to create new rules, and someone whose competitive streak will come out to surprise you. But regardless, keep everything in good fun and enjoy putting those brains to work while laughing it up and enjoying the company of your family.

Break outside!

Maybe it’s being from the Midwest where the weather is usually freeeeezing around the holidays, but for some reason, it seems that holidays often equal long hours indoors for so many families. So mix things up this year and start some new traditions outside! And if you have snow on the ground, all the better!!

Our family had a tradition of making (literal) snow bunnies whenever we had a White Christmas. But even if you’re not up for rolling around in the snow, grab your boots and just go for a nice walk around the neighborhood after a meal. It will help you start burning off some of those calories, and can be a great time to chat it up with a family member, or even get a few minutes to yourself if you’re an introvert. Either way, the fresh air will do you good.

And of course, you can always break out the Christmas sweaters.

Well, that may not be a tradition with the people†in our family. But Henry dresses the part each year.

$50 Starbucks Gift Card Giveaway:

How To Enter:

How are you preparing for the holiday season? †Leave a comment below and you’ll be entered to win a $50†Starbucks†gift card!†


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

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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 12/13/12 -12/28/12.

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174 comments on “rekindle your holidays: family traditions {$50 starbucks giftcard giveaway}”

  1. My family is far-flung. We no longer try to impress one another with gifts. Instead we set aside time to talk and share our lives more at this time of year.

  2. Wrapping as soon as I get home with gifts!

  3. We picked out recipes already for Christmas Day and the parties afterward.

  4. Tweet link:

  5. I purchased my first home this year and although I’m still settling in and unpacking boxes, I purchased a few outdoor lights and an outdoor, lighted Christmas tree. My goal is to someday be the Clark Griswold of my neighborhood :)

  6. Deciding on my Christmas movie – Les Miz or Hobbit!

  7. I’m preparing by decorating the tree and the house, making my Christmas menu and grocery list; and finally, buying and wrapping the presents!

  8. Shopping, wrapping presents, listening to Christmas music, watching Christmas movies…so excited!

  9. By purposefully not being stressed! Instead, savoring all the holiday moments with my family and friends

  10. I’m baking and decorating up a storm!

  11. By starting some new traditions with my daughter like making sugar cutout cookies that she can decorate herself or making a gingerbread house. She also is helping with the decorations! Such fun!

  12. I have decorated the Christmas tree and we will be baking Christmas cookies this week to bring to our family.

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  14. Baking cookies with my 4 year old.

  15. Preparing by housecleaning first!

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  17. We’re not doing much! Just enjoying time together.


  19. Decorating the house for Christmas and preparing the Christmas dinner menu.

  20. I decorate with ornaments that have been passed on from my grandmother and I put xmas cards that we receive on the door so we can see friends/family as we walk outside each day.

  21. this year I decided to bake up a storm with my family:)
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  22. Shopping & looking up recipes!

  23. baking gingerbread house with the kids

    tbarrettno1 at gmail dot com

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    tbarrettno1 at gmail dot com