Holiday rituals are in many ways akin to the rituals in our everyday lives. Those daily, weekly, and monthly activities that bring us calm, provide structure as well as something to look forward to. The rituals can be as extravagant or as simple as suits our taste, but the underlying and understood prerequisite is that it must be something we sincerely enjoy rather than doing so simply to go through the motions.
A few years ago I shared a list of trusted and new ideas for holiday traditions, and more recently I discussed the idea of traditions: to follow or not to follow. After all, the gift of having rituals in our lives is to deepen the quality, elevate the experience and simply by knowing we can look forward to these particular holiday rituals we feel a sense of stability and security, knowing what to expect, knowing what will make us smile and put us at ease. As someone who is incessantly curious, trying new things, taking risks, and understanding that the world changes, having a few things to trust with the knowledge of how they will unfold, the joy they will bring into our lives, is a gift we can give ourselves and those we love.
Below are a few holiday rituals I enjoy bringing into the holiday season each year. I would love to hear your favorite holiday rituals are as well. Feel free to share in the comments.
1. Plan a Day of Decorating
For one month the house becomes a festive holiday sanctuary with pine boughs, stockings hung and tabletops becoming adorned with festive crimson and white. Knowing that the decor is temporary offers a welcomed change, but also the gift of packing it up for the next season and kicking off the new year with a fresh new home.
Looking forward to an entire afternoon or day to pull out the boxes, hang the wreaths and all the trimmings, is something I look forward to each year. After carefully looking at my calendar and determining which day will be the day of decoration, I must admit, I do look forward to it.
2. Jazz up the Tree Trip
Speaking of the day of decoration. My day also includes the trip for the tree. After all, the decorations for the tree are stored right alongside all of the other holiday decorations, and it is the tree that finishes the home for the festive season.
With regards to the tree, I plan it to the hour. Okay, maybe I am not that particular, but I at least set the time I will hop in the car with my pups and go hunting for the perfect green needled flower. I usually go to a tree nursery, but every year is different especially since this year my tree will be petite. A new change I am curious to try this season.
Beginning with making sure the proper music can be played to set the jovial mood to making sure there is a favorite stop at a local bakery to pick up hot chocolate or something sweet and seasonal to nibble on, the journey begins.
3. Stock a holiday food shelf or cupboard
The month of December brings the opportunity for unique and special treats. Whether you bake them yourself or pick them up at your favorite chocolate or sweet shop, stock a shelf with the fudge, the decadent chocolate for making chocolat chaud (I love this recipe), and perhaps even the liquid therapy to mix up a favorite holiday mixed drink or cocktail for a visit with a friend.
4. Turn on the Holiday Tunes
I am a toe-tapping fool when it comes to holiday music. And with a few new albums released this year that caught my eye (as shared in this year’s Holiday Gift Guide), I think I will have to add a few new songs. But part of what makes the holidays is the music, the ambiance, and then the mood is set. Below are a few playlists I pulled together of the past couple of years:
5. Send out Invites for Your Holiday Soiree
In 2014 I hosted my first holiday soiree, and oh, how much fun I will always remember it to have been. From cocktails to a antipasto platter to wine and fantastic conversation with lovely guests. While yes, planning, preparing and cleaning up is a lot of work, it all becomes worth it when the event goes so well. If you are considering throwing a soiree this year, enjoy picking out creative invitations and sending them out to your guests ASAP. While I know inviting can easily be done via email, I must say, receiving a carefully inscribed invitation in the mail always makes me smile.
6. Spruce up your Holiday Attire
Speaking of hosting a holiday gathering, whether you are hosting or not, you most certainly will be attending a few gatherings. So why not look your best? Check your closet to see what you already have and love and then take advantage of the aptly timed sales going on to finish or freshen your look. Net-a-Porter’s designer clothing continues to drop in price, as does The Outnet if you’re looking for items that will be chic and timeless and most importantly, available at a great price.
7. Partake in Community Holiday Activities
Depending upon where you live and how long you’ve lived in your hometown, you may know of certain activities and special events that only occur during the holiday season. Such as the opening of the ice skating rink, a special pastry made at your favorite bakery only during the month of December. Whatever it is that you love and want to support, put it on your calendar to partake and be sure to savor.
8. Schedule time to watch your favorite Holiday Movies
The Holiday, Elf, White Christmas, The Holiday Inn, A Yogi Bear Christmas, The Christmas Story. The list goes on. Make a list of the movies you want to see this season and either find the small theater that is showing them (we have a theater in town that shows favorite holiday films, and movie-goers can sit in cozy armchairs, sip wine and nibble on pizza or whatever they order from the back bar – it is a true treat and the tickets are fewer than $5!) or save them on your DVR or add them to your watchlist on Netflix or Amazon.
9. Plan time to savor a holiday gift shopping excursion
While holiday shopping can technically be done at any time of the year, taking time to do some of the holiday gift shopping during December is a ritual in and of itself. With the holiday shopping decorations, the chilly weather outside requiring you to bustle about and the thrill of discovery when you find just the right gift, I don’t know about you, but this is part of the holiday season that I enjoy savoring.
10. Plan an After Holiday Respite
Okay, let’s be honest, the holidays can be exhausting. Yes, they are lovely and provide an opportunity to reflect, be grateful and truly be present, but at the end of December or January 1st I am quite excited to get on with the new year. So why not plan an after holiday respite to look forward to? Maybe it will be how you ring in the new year or maybe it will take place sometime during January. Either way, plan it now (as we talked about a few weeks ago, there are benefits in doing so), and not only can you enjoy the holiday season, but what follows it as well. A win-win.
So here we go. Let’s make a conscious effort to cultivate holiday rituals that speak to what we love about this time of year and offer us moments of true and complete joy. After all, no matter what the advertisers suggest, or even our friends and family, when we know what makes us smile, what it is we look forward to and communicate that as well as integrate that into the season, it begins to look even brighter than it already was. Happy holidays!
~Find more seasonal inspiration here.