Deck the Halls—Early
Don't wait until the third week in December to decorate for the holidays. Instead, place cheerful holly on your table and fill the old-fashioned Santa cookie jar early. It will somehow make the season seem so much longer, less rushed, and more enjoyable.
Create a Family Memories Box
The whole family can preserve special memories of the season when you put together a homemade holiday box. Even little ones can help as you decorate the outside of a box with construction paper, paint, stickers, and felt. Make a family box, or have each member of the family make his or her own box. Fill the box with your holiday CDs, candles, stories and DVDs, ornaments and decorations.
Start a new tradition by picking a night on the calendar for opening the holiday box. Light some candles, pour some egg nog, cider, or brandy for the grownups and peek into your boxes. Each year, you'll add more special treats and memories.
Home for the Holidays
A simple way to encourage family togetherness is by hosting a teatime. Whether it's after school, before dinner, or before bedtime, sit together with your loved ones and have tea, warm milk, or cider. Nibble on some holiday cookies while you talk about holiday plans, gift ideas, or just about everybody's day.
Add a heavenly holiday aroma to your home by simmering a small pot of mulling spices in cider (a yummy alternative to coffee) or water on your stove. Make your own spices by mixing cinnamon sticks, cloves, and anise wrapped in cheesecloth.
Slice paper-thin pieces of apples and oranges and arrange them on a baking sheet. Leave this in a 200-degree oven throughout the morning while you're doing household chores. The slices will dry out, leaving you with a holiday-scented home as well as with the ingredients for a holiday garland. String the dried fruit with cinnamon sticks and berries on florist's wire over your doors or down the center of your table.
Make a simple gingerbread house with your children. Whether you make the house from scratch or buy a kit, don't be afraid to get messy! Decorate with icing and candy, and remember to take a picture of the kids showing off their creation before you all gobble it up!