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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!†


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

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

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

  1. I am going through stacks of pictures, still making holiday ornaments. Am obviously running behind.

  2. Tons of biscotti always appears (aka my mother makes it) in my house around the holidays. Delicious!

  3. I grew up baking tons of Christmas cookies with my mom and our family would drive around on Christmas eve looking at lights in different neighborhoods and delivering cookies to friends and family.

  4. This year is super simple… a new start in a new town! No kiddos, so Christmas looks like presents for the fam bought with gift cards we have held on to, a small wicker tree strung with lights and our favorite ornaments, a few new recipies to try and a little spending money in January! I think it might be one of our favorites so far, since it is making us aware that we truly do have an abundance.

  5. I’m wrapping presents and decorating for the holidays.

  6. tweet–

  7. We have been decluttering in order to make room for decorations

  8. I’m going home!


  10. Bake cookies, wrap presents, and listen to a lot of Christmas music!

  11. I am wrapping presents, grocery shopping, and anticipating having Christmas dinner with my family.

  12. I tweeted:

  13. I’m getting all my shopping done early, and wrapping all the presents up.

  14. tweeted

  15. To get ready for the holidays I am baking all of my favorite from my childhood.

  16. I’m making gingerbread cookies tonight and listening to Barenaked for the Holidays. :)

  17. We decorate a tree and will be baking cookies.

  18. I’m finishing up my Christmas shopping (most of which I did online this year) and planning on having a small, quiet Christmas with my close family. No big parties for me!

  19. We decorate the house and bake cookies for Christmas


  21. I’m going to Christmas festival, watching Christmas movies, and buying presents for my family!

  22. I buy the best eggnog I know and love from the Amish in Reading Terminal Market (philadelphia) and will be using it for eggnog scones!

  23. I have been watching Christmas movies (Elf is my favorite), baking cookies and will put together a Gingerbread house on Christmas Eve.


  25. I would love love love me some Starbucks! Drinking coffee is the perfect way to spend an evening with family and friends.

  26. I tweeted :)

  27. wrapping presents! because then I feel like I’ve accomplished something AND it looks like christmas!

  28. By packing! We have lots of traveling to do this year.

  29. Baking lots of cookies! Its my favorite part about the holiday season!

  30. Doing puzzles with family is one of my favorite holiday traditions. It’s right up there with playing board games.

  31. We have been preparing for the holiday’s by doing a lot of baking. My daughter loves to find new recipes on Pinterest. We have made Gum Drops, Caramel Brownies and Cherry Bark.

  32. Tweet

  33. We do a lot of baking and cooking for holidays.


  35. My favorite part of the holiday season is Christmas Eve- when all of my family is together in one room relaxing before we open presents.

  36. I have been shopping, baking, and decorating nonstop, but I love it. The holiday build up is the best part!

  37. The apartment has been decorated and the shopping is done! Next on the list is baking cookies to prep for the Holidays!

  38. I make lists on paper and ask my hubby help me.


  40. I am getting ready by decorating and doing some Christmas shopping. My favorite part is actually wrapping the gifts, but I have to buy them first!

  41. Ive been decorating my small apartment with in an inch of its life, watching Christmans movies, looking at lights, and eating rich holiday food!

  42. Aside from our tree up and lights on the house, I’ve hardly got anything done!

  43. Lots of baking, xmas music, xmas movies, taking my little man to see xmas lights! This is my favorite time of year!

  44. I’m preparing for the holiday season by getting all my shopping done!

  45. I’m so UNprepared this year that I’m beginning to panic.

  46. I tweeted about the giveaway.

  47. I’m preparing by getting to the both the mall and grocery store for everything I need as soon as possible!

  48. I’m gathering my supplies to bake, bake, bake for Christmas gifts.

  49. I tweeted! My followers ar probably very sick of my giveaway tweets!

  50. I’m preparing for the holiday season by getting my fill of pepperment mochas before they’re gone!!! And of course I’m preparing lists of wonderful things I would like to bake, but chances are I’ll only get to one or two. Bring on the chocolate rum cake!!