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Traditions to Start Outside of the Holidays (Wynter Edition)

The last quarter of the American year is celebrated as the "holiday season" by millions of families. October usually kicks this season off as people dress up as their favorite fictional and non-fictional characters to party or ring their neighbor's doors for candy. Then, the masses dress and stuff turkeys for a feast in November. And celebrate through December, decorating pine trees with ornaments, hiding elves on shelves, and popping champagne in celebration of the sun beginning a new orbit around the earth.

But what about the families who could care less about manmade festivities or those who don't indulge because of spiritual and personal beliefs, or even those who are disconnected from their loved ones but still want to acknowledge the change in season? Of course, a giant Christmas tree with bells and plenty of gifts underneath makes any house feel like home, but other decorations that embrace Wynter, like garland, twinkle lights, and faux pine trees, can bring the same comfort.

But, the time is up for feeling excluded and like you need to be alone during the coldest, most festive months of the year.

Seasons are made for everyone! Bitter or cheerful, it's up to you how you celebrate!

As a child, my mother loved celebrating Christmas. Whenever we were in our own house, she always bought and decorated our trees like she was designing them for a spread in a magazine. Every year, I made lengthy lists and even believed in Santa Claus, until I was about 6 or 7. I always expected to open the newest Lil Bowwow C.D, Hello Kitty memorabilia, and an iPod wrapped with my name on the gift tags. And no matter what kind of cell phone I had at the time, a newer, more high-tech device was on my list.

We spent holidays, in my hometown in Southern California, with my mother's siblings and my grandparents and the times were amazing. My Nani always made sure the jams were going on the record player and that the soul food dinners were delicious.

But after having my son, I realized that what I read in the bible differed from my holiday participation and there was no way to teach him both ways in our home. If he had asked me why we celebrated pagan holidays in our life but believed in the word of God that says we should not, I would have no answers.

Although we are told that Easter is celebrated in honor of the dying and rising of Christ, bunny rabbits and eggs filled with candy surprises are at the center of the holiday (and bunnies don't even lay eggs). We are also taught that Thanksgiving is a time to feast with loved ones, yet it's the exact same day pilgrims celebrated the slaughtering of Native Americans after "Americans" stole the land.

And, well… Christmas is Jesus' birthday, despite the bible saying he was birthed in the Spring time. And a white guy with a beard and a big belly delivers materialistic desires to the entire world, on a flying sleigh guided by reindeer, and squeezes down chimneys, all in one night... in the name of Jesus? Why would Jesus need a bearded man to do anything like this for him when his father wakes the entire world up every day? And I never bought a Christmas gift for my loved ones that they could use to please Jesus, on his birthday. It was always what they wanted.

Yeah, it's just for the kids, I know. But, lots of adults celebrate, too, right? No judgment, but as for my home, we found some fun ways to shift gears, finding traditions to start outside of the holidays, while still including our friends and family.

Let's get into it!

1. 'Tis the Season for Giving

Why not start a cute Lil, annual get-together with loved ones to share gifts? I know you're probably thinking 'isn't that Christmas?"

Well, giving can be done any day and without the tree, in your own way. Let's say your friend is in love with the idea of learning to cook for the new year, how about gifting her a recipe book? The temperatures are dropping outside, how about gifting blankets and coats to the less fortunate? Speaking of dropping temps, a few weekend trips to the children's hospital, in December and January, to warm the kiddos up with hot chocolate and comfort them with build-a-bears, quilts, and board games to help keep their minds off of illness would, perhaps, be the perfect acts of giving.

2. Welcome to Pajama Wonderland

Silk, cotton, flannel, or polyester pajamas.. just put some on, and let's get the party started! I'm definitely plugging in my twinkle lights, setting up a concession stand and coco bar, playing Christmas movies on my projector, serving drinks, and playing games with my girls while we talk about life and just chill.

Christmas we don't celebrate, but holiday movies are too cute and family-oriented not to enjoy.

3. Cheers & Dinner

I plan on hosting a nice, soul food dinner, made with love for my loved ones this winter. If a chef is not in you, of course, you can hire one to host your own or have a potluck-style dinner. Add warm decor to your table and a champagne toast, then have everyone share something they are grateful for.

Create your own traditional conversations for this dinner and make it annual!

4. May the Best Gingerbread House Win

I love to get a gingerbread house kit and blast Gucci Mane's East Atlanta Santa 3 Christmas album while icing graham crackers to build a house with my son. We always have so much fun. This year, though, I had an idea to include friends and family in the mix.

I'm thinking of a friendly competition of "who can make the best gingerbread house?" with some really wynter vibes.

It is totally kid-friendly and the whole gang can hang!

Get creative and make your competition unique to your crew.

5. Vision or Nothing

Have a festive vision board shindig for you and your friends!! Regardless of the holidays, everyone has goals and desires.

It's fun to find photos of things you want to manifest and get fired up about going after those things... especially with friends there to encourage you. I love making and updating my goals with my tribe and spend lots of time making the perfect board for my life. I actually make a board with my son as well and add his little human goals for his own vision, it's a kid-friendly tradition, too.

Food can be served and magazines, scissors, colorful paper, and tape can be provided with your favorite jams playing in the background. This type of event is for good-energy people only! When planning for the future, you always want high vibes.

So, just keep that in mind.

6. Game Night is Quite Alright

Pull out and set up your favorite games and invite your friends over for a good time. Drinking games, kid-friendly games, girl's night games, 90's games, couple's question games... you name it!

Choose your type of event and pair the games with seasonal eateries like (spiked) eggnog, baked macaroni, apple cider, sweet potato pie, and whatever else your guests will enjoy.

Perhaps, prizes (since it is the season for giving) could be a thing or just plain old fun.

Your game night, your rules.

7. Wynter Ice Skating is Great

What other time is best to glide some skates on ice?

Outdoor skating is cool, but hot chocolate and warm food after gliding on ice makes it even cooler.

Try something new with your family. In Los Angeles, the Kings ice rink goes up in the middle of L.A. Live for families to enjoy ice skating in the heart of Downtown with a huge decorated tree in the center. Talk about views!

8. Have a Snowball Fight in Big Bear (If You're in Cali)

I live in Los Angeles where the weather is nice and bright all year long and soaking up the sun is not a problem for us. And when the Wynter arrives, it leaves us without snow and cozy temperatures.

So, I'm suggesting a trip to Big Bear, which is only about an hour and a half from Hollywood. I took Sev last year and we will be making it an annual snow trip tradition. We tasted hot cider, had fun sledding, rock-climbed, zip-lined, froze our hands in a snowball fight, and decorated cookies and gingerbread men in the bakery up in the mountain.

Get some warm clothes, find the closest cabin, and GO play in the SNOW!

Whichever way you choose to celebrate with your family as you create annual Wynter traditions is totally up to you. I put this list together for families like mine who are not into pagan holidays but would like to also enjoy the change in season.

I hope you find some of these ideas fun enough to introduce to your own home. Let me know if you do!

-Shut up, Shabetti.


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