It’s finally December, which means we’re surrounded by all things Christmas. But maybe, like me, you’ve noticed that this time of year flies by faster and faster as an adult. And we’re often more focused on our to-do list than on enjoying the season.
One way to stop and smell the hot chocolate is to engage in new activities and our favorite traditions. When we do something new, our brain encodes new memories, which makes time feel slower. And revisiting old traditions brings a sense of comfort and warmth. Combining the two experiences will make for a Christmas to remember and enjoy!
1. Decorate Your Home
This one is a no-brainer – bring out the tree, deck the halls, string up the lights, and hang your stockings by the chimney with care. Nothing communicates Christmas more!
2. Drive To See the Lights
Fill a travel mug with hot chocolate or apple cider, crank up the Christmas carols, and take a drive through a neighborhood to enjoy the Christmas lights.
3. Go Ice Skating
Pretend you’re in a Hallmark movie and spend an afternoon at an ice skating rink, preferably an outdoor one! Don’t forget to wear something seasonal, like a red coat or a plaid scarf.
4. Watch Christmas Movies
Gather everyone together and break out the family favorites: Frosty the Snowman, The Grinch, It’s a Wonderful Life, Home Alone...the list goes on and on! (With dozens more added every year, thanks to the Hallmark Channel.)
5. Listen to Christmas Music
You’re probably hearing it as you run errands and shop for presents, but don’t forget to play your own Christmas playlist too! Tap into that nostalgia with your favorite albums and songs.
6. Attend a Live Performance
Take the Christmas music experience up a notch by attending a live concert or ballet performance. If you want a high-octane experience, try something like the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. If you want something classy, go with The Nutcracker. Don’t forget your local dance companies and high schools – they’ll have performances this time of the year too, and they’re often free.
7. Go Christmas Caroling
For a fun, free, and more personal musical experience, go caroling door-to-door with your family and friends! If you have friends who can play a (transportable) musical instrument, bring them along for accompaniment. Don’t forget to print out sheet music or share links to sheet music so everyone can sing the right words!
8. Bake Christmas Cookies
Winter is sometimes referred to as “bulking season,” and Christmas cookies are definitely a factor here. But they’re worth it, especially if you’re making a family recipe or trying something new. Christmas-themed sugar cookies are always tasty and are a fun project to make with family and friends.
9. Decorate a Gingerbread House
Another collaborative food experience is decorating a gingerbread house. You could even have a contest and vote to see whose house is the best! You can readily find premade houses at the grocery store so you can spend your time and effort on decorating.
10. Participate in a Toy Drive or an Angel Tree
Share your blessings with the less fortunate in your community by participating in a toy drive or an Angel Tree program. Churches, community centers, and fire and police departments often host such programs.
11. Throw a Party
Host your family and friends for a Christmas party. Take the time in this busy season to connect with them. You can easily combine several activities from this list for a smashing party.
12. Send Christmas Cards
Christmas cards aren’t just for families with kids – anyone can send them! Your family and friends will always appreciate seeing a picture of you and getting an update about what’s been going on in your life. Plus, everyone loves to receive real mail! And when you receive Christmas cards, put them on display.
13. Use an Advent Calendar
Based on a liturgical practice, the now largely-secularized Advent calendar is a fun way to anticipate Christmas by counting down. The anticipation reminds us to have hope.
14. Put Out a Nativity Display
Jesus is still the reason for the season, y’all. Putting out a nativity scene, whether a wooden one on your mantle or a big light-up plastic one in your front yard, will remind you what all the hustle and bustle are really about.
15. Enjoy the Cold Weather
We modern humans have the unique ability to live a practically seasonless life – we have air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter. Spending time outdoors in the cold, crisp air – walking, building a snowman, sledding, etc. – helps our brains and our bodies ground in the time of year. Plus, coming inside to sit by the fire and drink hot apple cider afterward feels so good!
16. Embrace the Color Scheme
Now is the time to wear bold red, rich emerald green, deep plums, and bright white. Having a seasonal wardrobe will aid you in dressing for the times and feeling like you’re participating in the season on a personal level.
Don’t just let the Christmas season pass you by. Intentionally set aside time to celebrate and connect with family and friends to fully enjoy December.
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