Gimme Some Oven

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

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

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!

Share this Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

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

1 2 3
  1. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

  7. I enjoy making cookies with family. thanks!

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

  9. tweet–

  10. Making gingerbread houses!

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

  12. 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.

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

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


  16. 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!

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

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

  19. 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!

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

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

  22. I love cooking with my mom!

  23. 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.

  24. Eating! And relaxing with the dog.

  25. I love the cooking and the baking.

  26. 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). ;)

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

  28. Simply relaxing without too much other responsibility!

  29. watching Christmas movies!

  30. Tweet Tweet!

  31. 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 :)

  32. 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).

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

  34. watching white christmas!

  35. 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!

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


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

  39. 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!

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

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

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

  43. tweet

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

  45. 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!

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

  47. 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!


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

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