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  Help me liven up Christmas & Thanksgiving
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My sister was really big on tradition and Christmas was her favorite time of year. We had Xmas at my sister's for 22 years! This will be our third Xmas without her and we have been struggling to create some new traditions and have a new fun Xmas routine. What does your family do on Thanksgiving or Christmas to celebrate and to create an atmosphere of togetherness with your family? Any fun traditions? Do you all sit at the table together to eat? Do you play games? Do you get drunk and sing carols? haha I would love to hear what YOU do on Christmas day with your family. And for those families who have multiple celebrations to attend on the same day - is there anything special you or your family do to make this more fun and survivable for those who may have to leave early or stay a short time?
Posts: 99 | Location: Illinois | Registered: Aug 29, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Christmas eve chili dinner and telling the Christmas story and caroling at one Aunt's house. Christmas lunch of sandwiches and finger food at the inlaws - a quick pass through, Christmas big dinner and games at another Aunt's. We live close so traveling between events is no problem.

The things I have learned about making the holidays fun is to let every one participate, and to do things that most in the group see as fun.

If you try to cook the entire fabulous Christmas dinner yourself it will feel like no one can appreciate it enough, because they can't. There is no way to possibly express appreciation for that much work. Better to assign out parts of the meal so that everyone contributes. People are much more invested in a holiday if they help make it happen.

Then on doing fun things - my family loves to play loud crazy games, and scream and shout and hoot and hollar. Pictionary in teams is a favorite, also a card game called 31. We only play things that all ages can participate in so that we can include everyone, even the little kids. Anything that gets people interacting and up off the sofa instead of laying around like boring lumps watching something on tv, is good in our family.
Posts: 7275 | Registered: Apr 08, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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You are so right cocking about letting everyone help. My sil almost did it all & shes burnt out.I don't know what we will do this year??? I provided all the cookies.
We always take a drive around the neighborhood to see all the lights. Enjoy the holidays with family!
Posts: 1314 | Location: IN, USA | Registered: Dec 01, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I can tell who the bakers are in the stores, they've been stockpiling the supplies a few weeks ago. Many are willing to talk about their baking they do for their families. Baking for these holidays doesn't start the night before. There's a lot of work involved in this. They appreciate being acknowledged .... even by strangers in stores....for what they do. Smile My BIL thanks me for the baking I do for their family. My sis has a FULL schedule that baking can't be fit in. So, my treats are appreciated.

How many variety of cookies do YOU prepare for sharing with others?
Posts: 5238 | Registered: Jan 23, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Bobbier, My family has a great Christmas tradition, But I must sadly say it was started after we lost my oldest sister back in 1995. Before that we were all so busy with our own families and never made the time to come together as a family during the holidays. It was xmas of 1994 my sister was quite ill and declining fast, Yet she insisted on having a family gathering at moms house and we all pulled names for gifts. Needless to say it was her last xmas. Our tradition has gotten bigger and better every year. Before the xmas carols and gift exchanges Theres always a special tribute to our dearly departed.
Posts: 26 | Registered: Feb 12, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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In my husband's family we used to get together for Christmas Eve dinner with the kids exchanging gifts. The tradition became meaningless after several families involved refused to put any thought or effort into the evening. The SIL who hosted the event resented having everyone for dinner. So we stopped for a year and it was really a relief. The brother who used to host the event had a grandchild and they go visit her now. The rest of us gather early in the afternoon for appetizers and desserts at another brother's home. They really enjoy having everyone over and we now have a great time. Last year we added a new tradition of bringing an inexpensive gift--names are drawn and you can "steal" someone's gift or take one from the pile. It was fun for everyone. Now we all go home in the early evening after an afternoon of food and fun--everyone feels good.
Posts: 3273 | Location: Ohio | Registered: Feb 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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We don't have T-Giving, or Christmas, at the same house every year. I think that helps with things. Plus everyone brings a dish, so it's not taxing on the host. No resentment. No pressure. We set the food up in the kitchen buffet style, everyone fixes their own plate. We use disposable dishes and utensils. Makes clean up easier.

As far as fun, we may play games, color with the kids, or whatever. A lot of the time we just sit around and talk. It really depends on who is there. Something we started a couple of years ago at Christmas was to draw names for gifts. It was getting to the point where we were basically trading gift cards. I buy what I need/want, when I need or want it. In addition to the drawing of names, we also bring a $5 wrapped gift, not labeled, and make a game out of that. The first year, we just put them on a table and would go pick one at random. The next person could steal from someone before them, or choose from the table. I think we let people have the opportunity to steal twice. Last year, we did a Christmas version of the "Left, Right" game and then everyone had the opportunity to steal once we opened what we ended up with. It was fun. No idea what we'll do this year.
Posts: 616 | Location: Indianapolis | Registered: Nov 03, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I remember one Christmas when I was probably in middle school and all the aunts, uncles, a grandmother and the cousins were at my house. Carolers showed up outside our windows and door just as we sat down to eat. It was so nice. Family is the most important thing. I knock myself out to make traditional foods that my kids and husband love.
Posts: 840 | Registered: Sep 01, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Back when I lived near most of my family we did different things.
Like one year all gifts HAD to be wrapped in recycled paper. Some were wrapped in the Sunday Funnies, some in Victoria Secret get the idea.
Another year, all gifts had to be homemade...that took planning and starting early.
Another one was one year all gifts had to come from yard sales, thrift stores or that was also interesting.

Since we have been away from most of our families for the last 15-20 yrs....DH & I started our own tradition on Christmas Day. We do "build your own" sub sandwiches. I buy several lunch meats like hard salami, roast beef, cooked ham, pastrami & anything else that strikes my fancy.
Then I have lettuce, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers all sliced on a tray and if we want something else...some of that too.
I'll also have an assortment of sliced cheeses, that varies each year.
If I feel like it, I'll do some hard boiled eggs.

I always cook a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, that's my favorite meal to cook!

This year will be different for us. We will be traveling to my son's house...for the first time ever to have Christmas at his house. I have no idea what they will do, but their traditional Christmas dinner is steaks on the grill & lobster...but they don't live in a warm climate now...that grill thing could be rather difficult if there is snow on the ground! Big Grin

"The soil is the source of life, creativity, culture and real independence." David Ben-Gurion
Posts: 5112 | Location: SW Ga. 8b | Registered: Apr 21, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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We have adapted as family members have passed and relatives moved farther away or divorced.

We do our Thanksgiving meal the Sunday before or the Sunday after. I prefer the Sunday before. Traditional menu. Most times I get a cooked turkey from the grocery store. My oven isn't the best and is very small. I like to make the side dishes. Ds#1 doesn't usually travel here for Thanksgiving any more. Not having on the traditional day lets us have the grandsons for a longer time.

Since we don't go to our parents any more because they have passed away, our holiday is less stressful. Like to go to the church service on Christmas Eve. We have a brunch next morning. Usually an egg casserole. We have a ham and side dishes. Try not to do a lot of cooking on Christmas Day, but we do have food to eat. The grandsons usually get to come sometime in the afternoon, so that is when gifts are opened. Sometime between the 25th and the 1st, meet up with dh's brother and his family. We alternate years here or there. We eat out. No longer exchange gifts with them. This year, ds#1 and his wife will be here sometime, so schedule may change somewhat.

I still miss how it used to be when both sets of our parents were still with us.

Like to decorate our tree with the grandsons. Youngest likes that the best. He only likes to put ornaments on from the step ladder. I have to do the lower area. Won't be long until he will outgrow helping me.

Will look forward to reading others' traditions, menu, and activities etc.

ETA: Think it is time to add some fun things to both holidays. Games that all can play etc. May get some gag gifts and open and trade those.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Strings,


Friends divide our sorrows and multiply our joys.
Posts: 6373 | Registered: Sep 20, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thanks everyone! Please keep the ideas coming. Nice to know how you deal with it all and that you don't have to have it on the exact day! It still seems like all we do is eat, gifts and then everyone is gone. No time for fun. How do you work in the fun for the day??
Posts: 99 | Location: Illinois | Registered: Aug 29, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Keep the tv OFF so the guys can't watch football! Don't let anyone get sleepy, give them all something to do.
Find games that both kids & adults can play at the same time or get competitions going with the kids against the adults. If the weather is decent, take everyone on a walk around the block...if snow, throw a few snowballs or build a snowman. Down here, the kids get outside & play with their new toys...bikes, outdoor games, etc. Get several small tables of card games going!
Warn them all ahead of time so they can help by maybe bringing something to play...twister, charades...outside, ball games, badminton, etc. or even croquet! Board games or things like Bingo with silly prizes works too!

This message has been edited. Last edited by: ga.karen,

"The soil is the source of life, creativity, culture and real independence." David Ben-Gurion
Posts: 5112 | Location: SW Ga. 8b | Registered: Apr 21, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I work very hard at providing a traditional experience for everyone.
My DH's family has always celebrated Thanksgiving on the Saturday after so everyone who needs to travel can attend. I love it this way. I'm a teacher, so I have 2 days off to prepare before everyone (15-30) arrives Friday night to spend the weekend.
We have cards & a jigsaw puzzle ready, & I give jobs to the young & able-bodied (find the chairs, get the folding table out from under the spare bed, set the table, etc.)
It's a ton o fun!
Posts: 6680 | Registered: Aug 22, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Turkey....nap time...........good luck!
Posts: 9310 | Registered: Aug 14, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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