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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 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}”

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  1. We’ve somehow misplaced every strand of garland we used to have so I’m making new garland out of the remains of an old beading hobby and waxed thread

  2. So much baking and holiday cooking going on here! Lots of Christmas parties and get-togethers, and that doesn’t even include Christmas with all my extended family which is a busy full time. I’m trying a good number of new recipes this year, too. :)

  3. I preparing for this holiday season by baking! I’m currently unemployed and have been making a lot of gifts this year!

  4. I’m currently baking and wrapping some gifts for loved ones! Then I’ll be packing up to go home for a week for the holidays :)

  5. I am knitting up a storm making gifts for most of the family. I like to make as many of my presents as I can every year!

  6. I am picking out perfect gifts for my family and hopefully will start baking soon!

  7. I’m wrapping gifts, counting down with 2 Advent Calendars, and slowly filling up stockings, all while jazzing to christmas music! ;D So much fun! :D

  8. I tweeted! —

  9. Making crafts with kids!

  10. i am preparing by performing in the nutcracker all december long!! :)

  11. Getting ready for our Christmas Eve brunch where our family and friends all make an ornament to decorate our homemade tree. So much fun!

  12. I’ve prepared by putting up my little 4 foot tree and baking up a bunch of different cookies which I freeze and pull out as needed for holiday potlucks/parties.

  13. i’ve been freezing cookie dough for the past month!

  14. I’ve done most of my shopping online so my holiday gift prepping has been a breeze!

  15. I’m sending a few Christmas cards each day! :)

  16. I tweeted about the giveaway:

  17. baking, i love to bake. I’m giving away lots of baked goods as christmas giftc this year.

  18. I am preparing for the holidays by finishing my final exams (yuck!) and going home and baking with my family! We are having a family cookie baking party on Sunday :)

  19. Definitely through holiday baking!

  20. I tweeted about the giveaway :)

  21. I’m prepping by getting ALL my shopping DONE early.

  22. Spending my free time volunteering and planning what I will be baking.

  23. Preparing for the holidays looks a little different for me this year with a baby–more easy and quick recipes and less decorations around the house.

  24. My 3.5 yr old and I created a December bucket list. It’s included many fun things, including crafts which we will use as gift for family members. It’s been a great way for him to be aware of the holidays. And for us to show him that it’s not just about gifts you buy.

  25. I love decorating and baking with my kids. We’re making sweet and warm memories together. :)

    amy [at] utry [dot] it

  26. tweeted:

    amy [at] utry [dot] it

  27. Oh I’m trying to prepare by making lots of lists! I’m hosting Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so there’s a lot to keep track of!

  28. I’m preparing for the holiday season by baking a new cookie each week!

  29. tweet!

  30. I am preparing for the holidays by taking it easy. The week will be stressful, and I need to not get wrapped up in the hoopla.

  31. we always make cinnamon rolls or coffee cake and deliver to friends and neighbors on Christmas Eve, so they don’t have to worry about Christmas breakfast

  32. hmm, i think this is a trick question. can one REALLY prepare for the holidays? …no, we just think we’re prepared, haha! :)

  33. Let’s see, I baked, frosted and decorated 200 sugar cookies last weekend, tmade a quadruple batch of homemade Irish Cream Liquer; this weekend I will make at least a double batch of almond roca, a double batch of coconut macaroons, and hopefully assemble gift baskets/trays. Having a full-time job and a two-hour daily commute definitely puts a crimp in my Christmas prep though in the form of exhaustion.

  34. I am doing better this year wrapping as I shop instead of waiting until the last minute to wrap EVERYTHING!!!!

  35. We’re participating in advent, the daily anticipation of Christ. Everyday, we do an act of service or project with our 2 year old in hopes to bring Jesus into the whole season of Christmas, to encourage generosity and service, along with daily Bible readings. It has been so fun to see her get excited about things.

  36. We always bake a cake with our kids to eat for breakfast on Christmas morning. Since it is a holiday celebrating Jesus’ birth, we figure a birthday cake is appropriate. The kids are in charge of decorating it,even if that means it turns out to be a sloppy sprinkled mess. It’s always fun. And, when else do we eat cake for breakfast? Never. Makes it memorable.

  37. Decorating my families house when I go home next week (they always wait for me to come home to do it) :)

  38. I tweeted!

  39. I’m making chocolate peanut butter no bakes to remind of my aunt who passed away two summers ago. No matter how well she was doing (financially) around the holidays, we could always afford to make these delicious cookies and making them with my kids reminds me of her.

  40. Loved this post! Such a great reminder of the simple, fun ways to enjoy the holidays.

  41. I’m vowing to do less, and do what I do with more intentionality.

  42. I tweeted:

  43. Spending time at home with my family and all my friends- just loving every moment

  44. I’m preparing with lots of decorations around my apartment!

  45. I’m making a ton of holiday cookies to bring to my bf’s family Xmas! and we have little, but a few, apartment decorations.

  46. we prepare by decorating the tree and making lots of cookies! :)

  47. I prepare for the holidays by decorating the house and baking many treats for friends and family.

  48. I’ve always kicked off the holidays with a baking frenzy! Always looking for new recipes to try, yet usually end up making the family favorites again and again.

  49. We get into the holiday fun by decorating the tree and the house!

  50. That doggie sweater!! :) We get ready by baking lots and lots of cookies and gifting to friends and neighbors!