Traditions make the holidays unique. Everyone has a different experience based on things passed down from prior generations or groups of friends, or even something that was inspired by a little too much of the spiked eggnog one Christmas Eve.
However, sometimes the best traditions happen out of necessity. For example, if your family is trying to watch their finances this holiday season, you can use this as an opportunity to create a fun, new experience. Instead of buying a bunch of gifts for each other, you can come up with handmade alternative presents. Be as creative as you want with these new traditions, making the rules fun and challenging. Perhaps you have to find an old photo album (scavenger hunt-style) of one of your family trips, and your present to your family is the gift of a performance. Act out the funniest part of the trip while you sit around the tree Christmas morning. Gift wrap can make for an excellent prop. It's a great way to relive some old, and potentially forgotten about, memories while inspiring new memories.
If you want to skip a formal meal this year, consider starting a tradition of helping those in need. Volunteering is a great way to take the focus off of material possessions and giving back. It not only is an extremely rewarding gesture to help make someone else's holiday a special one but also will bond you with your family in an entirely new way.
In the spirit of giving back, rather than buying your brother another blue hoodie from his favorite store, there are some really cool organizations where you can actually buy a village, community or family a goat, some chickens, a pig, or other sustainable options that can change their entire year. Check out the website for Oxfam America Unwrapped for more information on gifts that give back.
Religious traditions tend to be harder to make unique. However, if they are an important part of your holiday, and you would like to find a new spin on things, why not try a completely new church, temple or service? You may discover something you never observed in your favorite holiday before. Suddenly, you feel like you're a kid all over again, experiencing something for the first time!
And, of course, we can't forget about the holiday food. When it comes to food, people tend to be unshakable. But in the spirit of abundance, you can always add to and slightly amend what you're already working with. Pinterest is a great source for adding an updated flair to some of the holiday favorites; check out recipe boards for some new ideas. You can even add an extra element by incorporating whatever meal you're creating with one of your favorite holiday stories. With this, you are inviting people to experience the food rather than just sitting down to eat it.
With the holidays, the most important tradition is to spend them with the people who love you the most!