Start a family holiday tradition today for memories that will last a lifetime with these great ideas from Hallmark
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Countdown to Christmas
Calendars make counting down the days to Christmas even more fun because they're stuffed with surprises -- and they're easy to make. Tack 25 decorated, candy- or trinket-filled envelopes to a corkboard or similar surface in a tree shape; top the arrangement with a bow. Or transform a sheet metal memo board into an advent calendar by writing the numbers 1 to 25 across one side in red or green and adorning it with a pretty bow or ribbon. Add one magnet from the festive Countdown to Christmas Magnet Set to the front of the calendar for each day. With fun shapes such as candy canes, mittens, and gingerbread men, your little ones will delight in the countdown to the big day.
Visit a Tree Farm
Start your family's holiday festivities off right by bundling up, packing hot cocoa and apple cider, and heading to a local Christmas tree farm to search for the perfect tree. Chances are, you'll do more than find a tree: Many tree farms offer hayrides, sleigh rides, and other family-friendly activities.
Trim the Tree Together
Your Christmas tree will be your home's focal point for a few weeks, so deck it out in style with Snoopy, Barbie, and others in the Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments lineup. Fluff the branches, then hang lights (make sure they're in perfect condition first!) starting at the base and working your way up before stringing garlands. Then carefully unpack your ornaments and hooks. Let each family member take turns hanging their favorites on the tree, evenly spacing them on branch tips or grouping like ornaments in clusters. If you have little ones who want to help, set aside non-breakable ornaments for them to hang on the lowest branches.
Personalize an Ornament
Ensure you and your family smile every time you walk by the Christmas tree by trimming it with your favorite memories. It's easier than you think: Display a favorite photo of your grandchild or Fido in an ornament with a built-in photo frame. Jot down meaningful names, dates, and sentiments on write-on ornaments. Or delight at the sound of hearing someone special's voice at the push of a button when you hang a recordable ornament. Even the most common ornament becomes alluring when it's hung on a hook engraved with a family member's name.
Make a Tree Garland
Raid your crafts drawer to round up the supplies your youngsters will need to create a fast, festive garland for your Christmas tree. Link multicolored chenille stems together or hot-glue pinecones, acorns, and other nature-inspired items to twine. Or string decorated paper snowflake cutouts along pretty ribbon. You even can use all the festive holiday greeting cards you received in years past by punching two small holes through the back of each and stringing them on a narrow ribbon.
Bake Cookies with the Kids
Whip up holiday cheer by gathering family members to bake and decorate cookies. Assign youngsters manageable tasks such as pouring pre-measured ingredients, stirring, and making shapes with cookie cutters. Older kids can measure wet and dry ingredients, crack eggs, and roll out the dough. When the cookies are cooled, the best part begins: decorating. Lay out assorted color frostings, sprinkles, and small candies, and watch everyone's imagination soar as you make cookie creations. Share the results with friends, family, and neighbors, and make a sweet gift out by arranging the cookies on a cute, holiday-theme platter or plate such as the Cookie Plate with Cookie Cutter. Be sure to save a few goodies for yourself -- they'll be gone before you know it.
Pose for a Picture
Whether you're decked out in new PJs or in your holiday finest, strike a pose with your family during holiday gatherings. To make this an annual tradition, take the pictures at the same location and camera height each year. Gently label the backs with a photo-safe, acid-free pen and store the photos chronologically in an album with acid-free, lignin-free sheets. Want to take your holiday smiles a step farther? Insert your favorite images into a photo holder Keepsake Ornament each year to fill your tree with memories of the most important people in your life.
Incorporate a Cultural Tradition
Broaden your family's cultural awareness and spice up your typical holiday celebration by introducing traditions from around the world this year. Learn how to say "happy holidays" and sing carols in various languages. Serve up new foods at dinner, such as potato latkes or pasteles. And if you're friends with families representing other cultures, arrange a holiday party where you can share your favorite traditions. Also share your culture with others by displaying a family photo on the tree with an ornament, such as this Italy Keepsake Ornament.
Twelve Days of Giving
Make others' lives merry and bright during the 12 days of Christmas, beginning December 25 and ending January 5. Stuff decorated shoeboxes with toys, school supplies, and personal-care products for disadvantaged children. Ladle up nutrition at a soup kitchen. Or surprise your mail carrier, elderly neighbor, or child's teacher with an inexpensive yet meaningful gift, such as something homemade, a colorful coffee mug, or a cookie plate.
Start a Christmas Eve Tradition
Break out your favorite holiday stories and start an annual tradition of reading together before bedtime on Christmas Eve. Designate one family member as the reader, or take turns passing the book around so everyone can read a page. If you can't be with the grandkids or your nieces and nephews this year, The Night Before Christmas Recordable Storybook makes it possible to continue this tradition even when you're hundreds of miles apart. Simply hold a button, read aloud, save your recording, and send it to your loved ones.
Give an Annual Ornament
Celebrate baby's first Christmas -- and her second, third, fourth, and fifth -- with special Keepsake Ornaments that she'll treasure every year while trimming the tree. Start the collection this year, and keep it growing for years to come. While you're at it, also celebrate your family's interests. There's an annual ornament for everyone, from the daughter who is a movie buff to the son who loves action heroes.
Sing a Song
There's no better way to get in the holiday spirit than by bursting into song, whether you're belting out lyrics on your own or caroling with others. Spread the joy of holiday songs to others by caroling at a local nursing home or shelter or sending recordable cards and ornaments or cards with songs to your loved ones. They'll be "fa-la-la-ing" before you know it. Not a singer? No worries! Let greeting cards, such as the Hallmark Cards with Sound, do the singing for you.
Share Holiday Greetings with Your Personal Touch
Send good tidings to loved ones this holiday season with the ultimate treasure: homemade cards created by your little ones. Round up paper, ribbon, glitter, glue, markers, embellishments, and other supplies to fuel their creativity as they put their signature mark on these merry missives. Or if you'd rather share the events of the past year in pictures, use new DVD Greetings from Hallmark to create a truly meaningful gift for friends and family. Drag and drop photos and stories to create a short customized movie set to music that plays on any computer or DVD player.
Create a Digital Holiday Scrapbook
Want to share holiday pictures with friends and family with minimal fuss? With the Holiday Digital Scrapbook, you can upload pictures to pre-designed backgrounds; then enhance each picture with journaling and music to suit your personality. Once you've applied the finishing touches, upload your creations on a digital frame, post them online, print out the pages, or email it as a slide show.
Copyright © 2010 Meredith Corporation.