As we gather around our homes and give thanks for the year’s blessing the holidays season is kicked into full gear. This is one of my favorite times of year when we think about peace, of how fortunate we have been during the past year and how we can help others who may not have had our good fortune as the year comes to a close. Unfortunately the holidays can also be a very hectic and very impersonal time of year when so much of the season has been commercialized. But there are some simple and enjoyable ways to personalize the holiday season this year. The following ideas give you seven great ways to make your holidays personal and share that joy and creativity with you friends, co-workers, neighbors, and loved ones.
Send Handwritten Holiday Cards
Whether you are spinning a dreidel or waiting for Santa to come down the chimney most people send holiday greeting cards during this time of year. In fact thousands upon thousands of cards are sent every holiday season. This year, instead of sending the impersonal standard greeting cards, take a moment to hand write a personal note in each card, or even design and print your own custom greeting cards for everyone on your mailing list using desktop publishing or greeting card software.
Adding a personal touch gives much more warmth and depth to your holiday greetings than merely sending the same generic greeting to everyone that you know. You can also add festive touches such as snowflake stickers to the envelope to use as seals and to give your holiday greetings that little extra touch that lets the people on your list know that you were thinking about them and took the time to put a little extra effort into it.
Bake Don’t Buy Your Holiday Treats
Just as adding that handmade touch to a greeting card can let someone know that you cared enough to make the extra effort just for them, so to can making time to create a tasty treat instead of just picking one up at the local market. Bringing a freshly baked item to any party or holiday dinner is always a nice touch and a warm thank you to the host of the event. You can also deliver homemade goodies to the neighbors, local nursing homes, or local firehouse as a way of showing your thanks and gratitude and make someone’s holiday season just a little sweeter.
And if you’re not a natural in the kitchen, you can buy several simple packages for cakes and cookies and other treats that you can make in only a few easy steps. You can also find reduced sugar or no sugar added options for those who want to make a holiday treat that is a bit more health friendly.
Decorate With Handmade Ornaments
Ornaments are another widely spread tradition during the holiday season and they come in all shapes and sizes from glittery balls to playful snowmen and delicious candy canes. But all of your ornaments do not have to be family heirlooms or fancy glass in this year’s latest colors. Making handmade Christmas ornaments for your tree is a great way to add a personal touch to the holidays. You can also make good use of the time making the ornaments for some quality family time and since the kids are home for the holidays it is the perfect time to plan family craft activities that will build memories to last you far longer than the holiday cheer.
Most craft stores carry wooden and ceramic ornaments that you can hand paint and add to your tree. You can also choose to make something a bit more original such as a sparkling sequin Christmas ball which can easily be made with a little super glue,straight stick pins, sequins, and ribbons on a Styrofoam ball for a wonderful hand made touch to the holidays.
Caroling, a time honored tradition of going from door to door or out and about in your community singing the traditional tunes of the holiday season, is a great way to put a little of yourself into the holidays while getting together with your family and loved ones to spread a little personal holiday joy around your neighborhood. It would be a delightful surprise for your friends and neighbors and a lot of fun for you as you create memories that your family will cherish for years to come. You can even use photos of your family caroling to make great personalized photo greeting cards for next year.
Scrapbooks also make wonderful holiday gift items, especially for parents and grand parents. You can make fun themes with cut outs and stickers to decorate the pages filled with photos of their nearest and dearest that tell a personal story just for them.
This is also a fun idea for a project that you can share together with your family and even younger kids can help add some special touches to the scrapbook project to make each gift a unique treasure. You do not have to include just photographs but hand prints of the little ones, brochures from a special place you went on vacation, rose petals from a wedding, a movie ticket from the first movie your kids saw with their grandparents, or any number of other things could be added to make the scrapbook special. And do not forget to leave plenty of blank pages in the back of the scrapbook so they can continue to use and enjoy this precious gift for years to come. Use your imagination and create a one of a kind gift that will be cherished much longer than any thing you could have had gift wrapped at your local department store.
Remember that special recipe that your grandmother received from her mother and handed down to you or the unique blend of spices that always made her holiday dressing just right? Nearly every family has a collection of recipes handed down from one generation to the next or that they have picked up from friends and added their own special touches to it and what better way to collect those memories for your entire family to treasure and enjoy than compiling them in family cookbook.
You can collect recipes from everyone in your family and put them together in cookbook that you can give as gifts to your family, friends, co-workers, or anyone who enjoys the art of cooking. You do not have to be a book publishing whiz to create a beautiful and professional family cookbook since there are several companies out there that can help you do this easily and affordably using either existing desktop publishing software that you may already have on your computer or through proprietary software that you can download directly from the book publishing service that you can use to print your Family Cookbook.
You can find several great choices of online companies that can assist you in making your family cook book project a reality this holiday season including LuLu, Blurb, and The Heritage Cook Book company. What a better way to make the holiday season personal than giving a gift that shares your passion for cooking with your own unique family recipes that can not be found anywhere else?
Start a Family Tradition
Whether you are celebrating Chanukah or trimming the Christmas tree, the holidays tend to be all about traditions, so why not make it personal by creating your own family tradition. There are several great ideas that you can work with for creating unique family holiday traditions, here are a few possible ideas to get you started:
- Create a theme for each year: Before the holidays season begins, having a family meeting and decide on a specific theme for the year and then all of your holiday gifts or decorations, etc. will relate to that specific theme. For example, you could make winter sports your theme for one year and give gifts related to skiing, snow boarding, ice skating, etc. then take the family to a great winter location to celebrate the holidays. Or have a arts and crafts theme where everyone makes some of the ornaments and decorations and gifts can include painting supplies or craft kits etc. Get creative and think of ways that you can use a theme to create a unique holiday experience.
- Personal Ornaments: A simple tradition than can hold a lot of memories for your family is to create a special ornament for each member of the family with their name on it and on Christmas Eve or whatever day that you choose, each member places their ornament one at a time before you light the tree. The same idea could be used for creating Chanukah decorations that you place before you light the first candle on the menorah as well.
These are just a few ideas for ways that you can make the holidays personal and more meaningful this year and create memories with your family that will reach far beyond the holiday season. So this year, instead of finding your holidays in the department stores, give a part of yourself to make the holidays joyous.