7 Ideas to Put the Jolly in Your Holidays
Writer / Aimee MacArthur
When I think of the holiday season, I think of snowy afternoons spent in front of a roaring fire listening to holiday music. I get excited about trees dusted with snow, displaying the Advent calendar and hanging up strings of lights around the outside of the house. The kids are home from school and it’s time to play games, work on crafts and other activities for them to do. There is always a lot happening during the holidays and a full calendar of events can seem daunting. Don’t worry. I’m here to help and share a few ways I try to stay merry throughout the season. Here are seven ideas to put the jolly in your holidays. I’m wishing you a Merry Christmas and a happy and blessed holiday season.
Twinkle, Twinkle: See the Bright Lights
Is there anything more festive than going to see holiday light displays? I don’t think so. My family has a tradition where we visit our local light show. We visit a drive-thru light display and see the millions of flickering lights set to holiday music. We marvel at all the hard work and magic put into decorating for all of us to enjoy. Don’t forget your neighborhood holiday light displays. You can search online for listings of holiday displays near you.
Yay, Yuletide! Attend a Holiday Festival or Parade
There are always a handful of holiday festivals and parades in most cities and towns. My friends and I like to put on our cheeriest winter wear (I have a hat with the word “jingle” on it) and visit a local Christmas festival. I enjoy looking at the decorations and seeing happy kids waiting in line to meet Santa Claus. There are even a few reindeer you can feed treats to while you wait to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus. We buy hot cocoa and sugar cookies and listen to carolers while we pop in and out of local stores and pick up last-minute gifts. After you attend a holiday festival or parade, you will be singing “Jingle Bells” in no time.
Choose Your Ultimate Fresh Cut Tree: Visit a Christmas Tree Farm
I have so many childhood memories of visiting the local Christmas tree farm and picking out a tree to bring home. It took about an hour to get to the tree farm, but the beautiful country drive was worth it. We passed the time by talking about what kind of tree and what size tree we wanted. Our favorite tree farm is beautiful and filled with hundreds of trees. The smell of fresh pine just gets me in the holiday spirit. It smells so earthy and woodsy. My go-to tree is Frasier fir, but there are so many trees to choose from. I also like to pick up fresh garland, a wreath and some mistletoe to hang over the doorway.
Winter Wonderland: Ice Skating, Skiing, Snowboarding and More
Visit your local indoor or outdoor ice rink and practice on your spins, turns or just glide along with the best of them. I have so many cheery memories of visiting my local skating rink during the holidays. I’m not the best skater and fall a few times, but it is so much fun. If ice skating isn’t your best sport, try skiing, sledding or snowboarding. I’m better at skiing and there’s nothing I enjoy more than spending a day at the slopes with friends. If there isn’t snow near you, try driving a few hours north to find a ski resort.
Entertain Us: Go to a Holiday Concert or Christmas Show
I grew up listening to Johnny Mathis’ Christmas albums. Make a Christmas playlist and share it with family and friends. Consider attending a holiday concert or Christmas show. My neighbor and her family attend the symphony orchestra holiday concert every year. They say it’s a wonderful night with joyful holiday songs. It fills them with Christmas cheer for at least a month. I also enjoy attending productions of “A Christmas Carol” or “The Nutcracker.”
Celebrate the Jolly Season: Host a White Elephant Party
Is there any party as fun as a white elephant party? I don’t think so. If you haven’t been to one, now is the time. My aunt hosts an annual white elephant and holiday sweater party. She sets a limit of $25 for funny and impractical gifts. Each guest is required to bring a white elephant gift and wear an over-the-top holiday sweater. My aunt provides food (small bites like meatballs, mini mac and cheese, mini slider sandwiches, stuffed mushrooms and chocolate peppermint cupcakes) and drinks (hot cocoa and mulled cider) and later the guests decide the rules for swapping gifts. It’s a party filled with merriment. My aunt awards prizes for the funniest gifts and the best holiday sweaters.
Holiday Treats: Bake and Share Your Most Cherished and Festive Cookies
I have a favorite holiday cookie. It’s my mom’s decorated butter cutout cookie. The cookies are in the shape of bells, reindeer, stars, snowmen and all sorts of delightful holiday shapes. My mom and I make dozens of cookies to give to family and friends. Spend an afternoon baking and make up baskets and plates to give to family, friends and neighbors. A good friend makes plates of cookies and other treats for delivery drivers, mail carriers and trash collectors. It brings me great satisfaction to share homemade treats. I try to deliver the cookies as soon as I make them, so I’m not tempted to eat an entire plate of cookies. Believe me, it’s hard not to sneak a few cookies here and there.