5 Ways to Upgrade your Holiday Celebrations

5 Ways to Upgrade your Holiday Celebrations

Christmastime is a season that appeals to our sense of nostalgia. Familiar faces, places, and routines help us to feel grounded despite the holiday frenzy. It’s tempting to set our families to autopilot, duplicating the same picture-perfect Christmas celebrations year after year. But stepping out of our comfort zones and into something new and unexpected could help jump-start our holiday spirit.

This doesn’t mean discarding the past, but it does mean creating new customs that resonate with your entire brood. Elders and youth can form meaningful connections while working hand-in-hand to build unique family traditions. So, instead of just performing all the familiar motions this year, try spicing up your holiday celebrations. Need some inspiration? Here are some activities my family has done over the years to make our holiday celebrations unforgettable.


The holiday season is an opportune time to reconnect with loved ones and have some fun. My family comes together each year for friendly games, elaborate contests, and fierce challenges (more on that later)! Board games, card games, and party games are all solid choices to pass the time. But we also like to up the ante with more creativity.

For instance, my aunt hosted a family talent show for many years. Each participant would practice in secret and reveal their routine on Christmas Eve. The talent show winner would enjoy bragging rights until the following year. Performances ranged from silly to surprising, and talents included dancing, singing, lip-sync performances, and comedy routines. If you try this with your clan, award bonus points for cool costumes and props!


From friendly to fierce, my relatives love to play games, and we play to win!

One surefire way to stoke competition is a White Elephant exchange, where guests vie for the best gift-wrapped surprise. My family plays this every-man-for-himself game, but we prefer to call it “Dirty Santa.” The cheeky term is appropriate for our relatives because – as hinted earlier – we are fiercely competitive!

For this activity, everyone brings a wrapped gift valued at a predetermined amount. Each player draws a number. Player # 1 begins the game by opening a present. Player # 2 then has an opportunity to snag the gift from Player #1 or choose a wrapped gift. If a player’s gift is taken, he or she immediately chooses a new wrapped or unwrapped goody. We continue in numerical order choosing gifts until all are unwrapped. Then, Player #1 gets one final turn, and the game concludes. This activity is not about the ultimate prize. It’s about surprise, conquest, and entertainment!


Karaoke with friends is fun, but karaoke with family is hysterical. In our troop, playful heckling is half the fun! For our Christmas Eve soirée, we transformed our living room into a karaoke lounge using a few simple tools.

A basic setup requires a PA speaker with a mic, a device with WiFi, and an HDMI or AppleTV connection to cast your lyrics on the TV. Download a karaoke app or check out YouTube for free instrumentals of your favorite Christmas carols and hit songs!

When you try this at home, alternate between old school songs and new school tunes to bridge the generational gap and keep everyone engaged. You’ll soon find that Christmas karaoke in surround sound is a giant leap from a traditional family sing-a-long. And I can tell you from experience that watching your grandmother sing crowd-pleasers like “Happy” by Pharrell Williams is priceless! What musical memories will you make this season?


The chilly temps and fierce winds of the season are enough to keep people indoors most of the time. However, if you are blessed with bearable weather, getting outside can be refreshing.

My family’s fitness levels range from gym-rat to couch potato, but when we tackled a family hike one Christmas Eve, we loved every second. We unplugged from our devices, explored a popular mountainside trail, and made precious memories. We laughed, talked, and snapped pictures as we climbed. Less daring family members were able to take a tram to the top and congratulate the hikers at the summit.

If the weather outside is too frightful for a hike, check out some indoor adventures for your tribe. Trampoline parks, rock-climbing gyms, and ninja courses are active pursuits the whole family can enjoy as participants or spectators!


It’s easy to get swept up in the commercialism of the season if we are not careful. With that in mind, my mom came up with the brilliant idea to give hand-made stocking stuffers – at least to the adults. Store-bought presents were banned in favor of gifts from the heart.

Some ideas for handcrafted gifts include printed and bound family recipe books, baked goods, homemade soup kits, and family tree photo albums. This exercise requires deep thought, strong effort, and ample preparation. If you are inspired to try this, prep your kinfolk now in anticipation of next Christmas. The love behind a hand-made gift cannot be replicated by an online retailer, outlet mall, or superstore!

From family competitions to active endeavors, will you create some new traditions with your family this holiday season? Comment below and join the discussion.

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1 Comment
  • Joyce Wright-Evans
    Posted at 12:50h, 23 December

    This article is well written.; The information is very useful for family activities.. It is also user friendly.. I plan to participate and use in some if not all of the games that The author suggested to bring my family closer. Happy Holidays!

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