starting your own holiday traditions

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Starting Your Own Holiday Traditions

Real couples share the special ways they make their holidays together meaningful.

Photo: Thinkstock / The Nest

Enjoying the holiday season as a new family of two is exciting, but if the scents, sights and sounds that you grew up with are nowhere to be found, you may be short on holiday spirit. Before going Grinch on your spouse and loved ones, try these tips from other couples who learned how to make the holidays together special.

Be sentimental.
There’s nothing like the holiday season to bring out your softer side, so this year, embrace it. “Every year on St. Nicholas Day, my husband and I write each other letters with favorite memories and hopes for the coming year,” says Brianne Sanchez of Des Moines, Iowa. “We put them in each other's stockings and read them on Christmas. It's a time to reflect and one day, to look back, as the letters will remind us of different stages of our marriage.”

Think (and act) like a kid.
Channeling the wonder of a little one can turn the smallest of moments into a memorable event. Follow the lead of Chadwick Boyd of Atlanta: “I host Christmas with my friends and everyone who comes to dinner gets a homemade felt stocking shaped like Rudolph or Santa Claus. Opening the silly little stocking gifts turns adults into kids again. I know my grandparents are happy that I'm carrying on their tradition.”

Share experiences.
Pressure to purchase gifts, decorations, and even new clothes can distract from what really matters. Sharlene Breakey of New York City shares: “We have a Scandinavian advent elf that has a pocket for every day of December. I fill each day with a note, such as a joke, a riddle or a plan to go ice-skating that night. It gets us thinking about being together as a family, not just shopping.”

Think long term.
A little foresight can turn a good idea into a family tradition. “Whenever there’s a new baby in the family, everybody gifts a Christmas ornament,” explains Deborah Wagman of Laporte, Minnesota. “We continue until they’re 18, and then they’re given the memory-laden pretties to hang on their own tree. This has gone on for three generations so far!”

Get cooking.
In my family, holidays are all about the food. For Christmas, there’s panettone and pizzelles. For Easter, we tuck into ricotta pie. But when I learned that my husband grew up enjoying huckleberry cheesecake on his birthday, I started baking one for him each year. The payoff of delicious treats and the knowledge that I’m helping to create new memories for our family of three is more than worth the effort.

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