Celebrate the season no matter who you are with 10 fully inclusive winter holiday traditions.
Part of the magic of the holidays is that they mean so much to many different kinds of people, so what works for your neighbor might not work for you. These 10 family winter holiday traditions are inclusive, accessible, and budget-friendly, so you can always look forward to special, festive winters.
My 10 Favorite Winter Holiday Traditions
1. Decorate Paper Chains For The Winter Solstice
I live in the Northern Hemisphere, so for me, the shortest day and longest night of the year falls on December 21, the winter solstice. To celebrate the official start of winter, my son and I make the longest paper chain our living room can handle with construction paper or leftover Cricut cardstock.
It’s a modified tradition from when he redid his bedroom at our old house, and we usually pick bright, flashy colors that contrast well in the dark, like lime, red, yellow, and pink.
2. Host An Open House Tour
If you have new neighbors, invite them over to show off your family’s diverse decorations and traditions, or use a webcam and video chat software like Zoom to do the big reveal virtually.
3. Light Fragrant Candles
Imagine coming home from a long work day to scents of apple cinnamon, peppermint, or cocoa. Candles are a great way to make a space feel inviting with minimal footprint. Simply be careful while lighting them to enjoy winter’s magic with all your senses.
4. Experience A Neighborhood Light Show
Not every light show will be winter-themed, but if you can find one in your area, hopping in the car and checking it out is a must. I’ve seen giant snow figures dancing to music, lights that “sled” down walkways, and trees that bathe entire blocks in glistening white.
It’s even more incredible once you ask how they’re made. Some people spend thousands of dollars to patiently set up their light displays, and you don’t need a computer science or engineering background either. It’s the ultimate season-long DIY project, and once you see one for yourself, you’ll wonder why those lights are left in storage for most of the year.
5. Mix Your Own Snow
Live in a warm climate without access to snow? Want a simpler project than a light show? Laura from the blog Make Life Lovely crafted her own version with baking soda and shaving cream. She put the surprisingly icy mixture in a jar as a sensory play area for her kids.
6. Read Or Listen To Your Favorite Books
A warm fire, cozy blanket, and riveting story equal the perfect winter evening, especially when reading in a common area like the living room. If you have kids, read aloud to make stories come alive, and encourage everyone around you to share their favorites as well.
Does your must-read list get instantly better with sound? Sites like LibriVox, Project Gutenberg, and Spotify, among countless others, offer free audiobooks; OverDrive partners with your local public or school library for the same purpose.
If you regularly use audiobooks, here’s a link to a 30-day Audible free trial that comes with two free titles of your choice. Several of my family members use Audible to listen to recent bestsellers during their commutes.
7. Bake Cookies
In exchange for my neighbors letting party guests borrow their driveways for parking, I always gift them a container of chocolate chip cookies, along with some wine if I know they’ll appreciate it. Cooking is an essential skill, and starting with sweets makes winter the best time to dive in. It’s also therapeutic to give something handmade to loved ones.
8. Donate Or Volunteer
Donating socks to homeless shelters, blankets to animal rescue facilities, or meal money to schools is a fantastic way to celebrate the season of giving. Giving back also means that whatever you decide to part with never feels like trash. It’ll go toward providing as much joy, comfort, or handiness for someone else as it did for you.
Having trouble deciding where that donation box should go? This post has you covered.
You don’t have to spend to give back, either. Volunteering to pack veterans’ care packages, walk dogs at a local shelter, or play board games at a senior center keeps you social and connected throughout the winter holidays.
9. Throw A Decades Party
Whether for yourself or an entire guest list, a decades party is a lively twist on the ubiquitous ugly sweater party, and you don’t even have to dress up to enjoy one. While throwback fashion is, of course, encouraged, a retro playlist, nostalgic movie, or hilarious reference list to quote throughout the night can be just as fun.
Desperate to go Back to the Future? Is that hideous ’90s T-shirt begging for the spotlight from the depths of your closet? Is your pet rock lonely? Celebrate all of that! The end of the year is a time to reflect, so why not fully embrace it?
10. Get Organized
You didn’t think I was going to go a whole post without mentioning organization, did you? Just as the winter holidays are a time to reflect, a new year is the ideal time to look forward with a new lease on life.
If you’re a complete organization beginner, try doing a brain dump. Next, learn how to keep that momentum going, and finally, follow along with this post (with a free printable calendar) to finish the winter holidays strong.
Ready To Start A New Tradition?
Great, because winter is truly the season for everyone, and how we celebrate, love, and respect each other is crucial to keeping it that way.
In fact, you don’t have to observe any traditional holidays to enjoy the month. This post shows you how.
I keep track of all of my family’s winter holiday traditions with my Organized-ish Holiday Planner. There’s a big section in the back to write down your favorite highlights of the season, so you’ll never have to skip a tradition again.
What are your favorite winter holiday traditions? Sound off in the comments below.