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25 New Holiday Traditions to Start With Your Family This Season By

Family holiday traditions are the wellspring of Christmas magic. Something about the season brings out a desire to reconnect, make memories, and hold tight to our nearest and dearest. Some traditions are handed down from generation to generation, and some are more recent introductions, but no matter what defines Christmas for your family, the basic recipe is the same: love, time, and fun. See how other places around the world celebrate the holidays.

1. Set aside a baking day

This is a very tasty tradition and whether you're a whiz in the kitchen or a total newbie, there's nothing more Christmas-y than the smell of vanilla and cinnamon wafting through the house. Kids love to get involved, so whip up a batch of gingerbread or even simple Rice Crispy treats, and let them stir, pour, decorate and taste-test to their heart's content.

2. Then host a cookie swap party!

A mainstay of women's magazines in years gone by, the cookie swap party is due a resurgence. The concept is simple: bake a few dozen of your favorite treats, then invite your friends and their cookies over, and trade!. Everyone goes home with a fabulous selection, and the traditional holiday gluttony gets off to a great start.

3. Turn holiday cards into a crafty celebration.

If you're blessed with a long list of friends, writing all those Christmas cards can sometimes seem overwhelming. It doesn't have to be! Stock up on seasonal stickers, some glitter pens, and let the children go to town. Little-kid scribbles are heartwarming, and all you'll have to do is sign your names.

4. Go caroling at a nursing home.

There's true holiday magic in giving back: traditions which bring joy to others are a powerful way of teaching your children the true meaning of the season. At this time of year, hospitals and nursing homes may welcome visits to lonely residents. A few rounds of "Jingle Bells" can be powerful medicine, and it's fun for everyone.

5. Organize a food or mitten drive.

Christmas can be a difficult time of year for people in need, and the charities which serve them are often strained by the demands of the season. Small donations of nonperishable food or warm hats and gloves can go a long way. If you're throwing a holiday party, consider asking your guests to bring along a little something to pass along.

6. Toy donation.

Playing Santa Claus is one of the most joyful ways of giving back. You and your child can go Christmas shopping for a charity like Toys for Tots. Some organizations accept gently used second-hand toys, so you could also encourage them to choose one of their own toys to donate, which the added bonus of "making room" for expected presents.

7. Christmas Eve storytime.

Getting them settled in bed just when the excitement is running the highest can be a real challenge. A Christmas Eve tradition of reading a special story might be just the ticket. Set the scene with hot cocoa, light a candle, and snuggle up with a classic like "The Night Before Christmas."

8. Christmas movie night.

With so many beloved holiday films to choose from, you might be able to make this a weekly event in the run up to Christmas. Make some cinnamon popcorn and gather together to enjoy a Christmas classic

9. Build a gingerbread house.

Be as simple or elaborate as you like. Whether you build a masterpiece of confectionary architecture or just glue a few graham crackers together with icing, everyone's favorite part is adding the candy decorations.

10. Bring back the board games.

Buying a new board game each year as a family present is a wonderful way of fostering togetherness, and they provide much-needed quality entertainment in the long hours between the opening of the gifts and the eating of the turkey.

11. Christmas craft day.

Making adorable homemade gifts is a simple way of capturing the holiday spirit. Christmas tree decorations cut from felt are an easy option for all ages and skill levels, but the most important thing you'll make is memories.

12. Go look at the lights.

Bundle up in the car with a thermos of hot drinks, tune into the Christmas radio station, and drive around the neighborhood admiring the holiday light show.

13. Have a Christmas video chat party.

If your loved ones or friends can't be home for the holidays, make a virtual special occasion out of a video chat. Show them your decorated tree, open the presents you've sent each other, have the kids sing "Rudolph", or just catch up. Make it a standing date each year.

14. Go on a Christmas shopping holiday.

Book a night in a B&B or hotel with a few family members and do your Christmas shopping somewhere new. It's a great way to get quality time together while bringing a little novelty and magic back to a sometimes stressful task.

15. Make a special breakfast.

Christmas morning traditions are extra special. Little ones may be too excited to eat when they wake up, but an out-of-the-ordinary breakfast might tempt them before the inevitable sugar rush. Snowmen pancakes, anyone?

16. Put on a family talent show.

From a nativity play to memorized holiday poems to hilarious Powerpoint presentations, entertaining each other is a family holiday tradition which will foster indelible memories.

17. Buy an ornament for each child every year.

Kids will take pride in hanging their own ornaments on the tree year after year, and when they finally fly the nest, they'll be able to take a box full of family magic with them.

18. Bring treats to emergency service providers on Christmas eve.

Nurses and doctors in the ER, firefighters, and police officers all work through the holidays, keeping us safe. Give back and spread the cheer by delivering some doughnuts, cookies, or mince pies to your local hospitals and stations.

19. Make "Reindeer Food."

Mix oats, candy sprinkles, and glitter, and scatter the sidewalk and driveway as a Christmas eve tradition. You might just encourage Santa's steeds to show up a little early!

20. Recycle last year's cards into decorations.

Cut out scenes and figures from old Holiday cards and string them on a garland for a charming hand-made decoration. It will get longer and more beautiful every year, and it's a sweet way to remember the love each card contained.

21. Host a holiday open house.

This can be especially fun in the sometimes dreary days after Christmas. Invite friends and neighbors to swing by for a chat and a beverage of their choice. Serve turkey sandwiches!

22. Have a Christmas camp-out (inside!).

Make a pillow fort under the tree, tell stories, and foster a bit of holiday silliness. You might not get much sleep, but you'll remember it forever.

23. Light a Christmas countdown candle.

A cousin of the advent wreath, this is a great way to mark the days until Christmas. Buy a large candle, and make a mark for every day between now and Christmas. Each night, burn the candle until it reaches the next mark. This is a lovely way to mark out a little time for reflection and peace each day.

24. Have a special Christmas outing.

Have everyone dress up to the nines and make an afternoon or night into a special occasion by going to see a local production of "The Nutcracker" or "A Christmas Carol." This tradition doubles as an ideal photo op! We also have a great resource all about Christmas card photo ideas

25. Start a "Good Deed a Day" jar.

Tell your little ones that Santa's magic is fueled by the good deeds we do each day, and at Christmas time, he needs extra help. Have them go out of their way to do something nice each day, and then write it on a slip of colorful paper to place in a jar (perhaps with a pinch of glitter!) On Christmas Eve, leave the jar beside Santa's cookies and milk, to help him refuel his magic before the next stop.

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