I used to think of myself as a bit of a freewheeling, free-spirited kind of gal: up for anything, go-with-the-flow, unencumbered by routine or tradition. But then my life went haywire for a few years, and I realized that I was VERY routine-oriented! I like having my little day-to-day routines and special traditions to lean on. That’s why traditions are so important: they provide comfort, familiarity, continuity, and a sense of belonging no matter where you are or what stage of life you’re in.
What I’ve come to understand and appreciate even more is that traditions don’t have to be traditional! By the time I was in middle school, for example, my parents and I had stopped driving from North Carolina to Alabama for Thanksgiving weekend every year. Instead, the three of us created a new Thanksgiving tradition: we’d have our fancy Thanksgiving dinner at one of the hotels downtown, followed by a trip to the movies…where each one of us would typically see a different movie! To this day, I really don’t like the idea of making a big Thanksgiving dinner; I prefer to go out to a fancy hotel. (The only problem with this tradition? No leftovers!)
Traditions don’t have to be seasonal, but they always seem to carry greater weight around this time of year—I guess the concentration of holidays from October to January just lends itself to tradition-making! So in today’s blog post, I’m celebrating a few seasonal and holiday traditions.
“Boo” Your Neighbors for Halloween
This is a neighborhood tradition that I see a lot here in the ‘burbs of North Texas, and it’s too fun not to share! The idea is to put together a little Halloween-themed goodie basket along with a sign that says “We’ve Been Boo’d” and a note explaining how to pay it forward: Folks who have been “boo’d” should post the sign on their doors (so they won’t be “boo’d” more than once!) and then put together two goodie baskets of their own to give to neighbors…and so it goes!
There are plenty of poems, signs, and printables on Pinterest to make boo-ing your neighbors easy peasy. Make it a family tradition by letting your children help pick out treats and houses to “boo.” If you are boo-ing families with young kiddos and don’t want to add to the pile of sugary sweets they’ll get trick-or-treating, consider filling the goodie bag with Halloween-themed pencils, stickers, or books. If you’re in an area with older kids or empty nesters, a festive little surprise like this would still be a welcome treat! Fill the goodie basket with Halloween kitchen towels or a small decorative sign and more sophisticated treats (think pumpkin scones, dark chocolate, and the like).
Extending the “Thanks” in Thanksgiving
I know lots of families have a Thanksgiving Day tradition of going around the table during the big meal and sharing something they’re grateful for. That’s a wonderful tradition—the act of sharing gratitude out loud makes it all the more sincere, I find—but if you can’t be with family at Thanksgiving for whatever reason, you miss out!
That’s why I like visual gratitude crafts, like the Blessings Tree I showcased here on the Tuesday Morning blog last year. We’re in a new house this year, though, and I want to do something a little more streamlined décor-wise. I love the idea of this Blessings Board, which uses a thrifted frame and a little paint and twine to make a customized display.
No time to make a display board yourself? No problem! I found several corkboards and picture holders at Tuesday Morning that would be perfect!
There are also lots of gratitude photo challenges out there. I’ve decided that I simply must participate in one this year. I’m part of the generation that straddles the line between the older folks who typically only took pictures on special occasions and the younger crowd who are constantly snapping selfies and what they’re eating for dinner. But technology—via your smartphone camera—makes capturing the little details of life as easy as pressing a button with your thumb. So why not take advantage of that and use your smartphone to take a picture of something you’re grateful for every day in the month of November? Here’s a checklist to get you started! Be sure to tag the photos with #seektheunique on Instagram for easy reference!
Bring on the Baking!
Baking is a staple in the holiday tradition canon, whether it’s cookies, cakes, or quick breads; sweet, spiced, powdered, or iced—just as long as it’s homemade!
Is your bakeware collection ready for the holiday season? If not, head over to your local Tuesday Morning without delay to snatch up some incredibly priced name-brand bakeware.
Check out all that Cake Boss bakeware! You can find everything you need to bake and decorate your cookies this holiday season like a pro. (Psst: Gingerbread cookies—the chewy kind—are my favorite.)
Trimming the Tree
There are so many traditions involving Christmas trees: a family outing to pick the tree, tree trimming parties, ornament exchanges, you name it. My husband and kids and I started our own quirky tree tradition a few years ago—we name our tree(s), preferably with some variation on a theme. For example, after my husband and I married, our first Christmas tree together as a family of four was named Steve. The next year, we had three trees—and we named them Stephen, Stefan, and Esteban.
(Do you prefer live Christmas trees? Try cutting a slice of the trunk as a keepsake!)
Starting with my very first Christmas, my grandmother made a tradition of giving me a new ornament every year until I turned 18. She wrote the year on each one herself. When I had my first place on my own, I didn’t have to spend a fortune buying ornaments to decorate my tree; I had my precious ornaments from my grandmother, and unwrapping each one from the tissue I stored them in brought back a fresh memory.
That tradition has had such a special meaning for me that I started it with my own children. Of course, I have two children and my mother and my aunt have joined me in this tradition, so our ornament collection expands exponentially every year! (That’s 6 new ornaments every year, in case you’re wondering!) Decorating our tree takes forever, not because of the quantity of ornaments, but because we all love to stop and tell a story or memory about each ornament as we unwrap them.
It’s already starting to look like Christmas at Tuesday Morning! They’ve started putting out some lovely ornaments that I think will be perfect for our ornament tradition.
Year-Round Memory Keeping
OK, so you’ve photographed your 30 days of gratitude, baked your heart out, trimmed the tree, and done all your favorite holiday traditions in style, and you have the pictures to prove it. Now what?
It’s easy enough to take the pictures, but they tend to stay on our smartphones or live on Facebook or Instagram. It’s time to print those memories out and put them on display in the real world! I used to have a serious lack of photographs around my house because I never thought to get picture frames—truly the easiest way to keep a memory alive.
If you’re a scrapbooker—or thinking about giving it a try—you have to check out Tuesday Morning’s craft aisle! On a recent trip, I found an awesome selection of my favorite scrapbooking brands, like these page kits from Cosmo Cricket ($30 worth of product for $9.99—can’t beat that!).
I’ve recently fallen in love with pocket-style scrapbooking. It goes together in a snap and helps me stay on top of my pictures. My Tuesday Morning had these journal cards and inserts from We R Memory Keepers, along with coordinating photo albums.
I also found tons of patterned paper, Thickers alphabet stickers, embellishments, and more—all at super-low prices. Who says scrapbooking has to break the bank?
Well, I’ve shared a few seasonal traditions, both common and quirky. Now I want to hear from you! What is the craziest tradition your family has? Or what’s the one tradition that means the most to you? I hope you’re feeling eager to indulge in your favorite traditions this fall and winter and maybe start a couple of new ones. Also, be sure to stop by our Family Traditions pin board for even more ideas!
Thanks for stopping by!