12 New (and Free) Holiday Traditions to Start This Year.
More stories, less stress.
Getting together with friends (and spending zero dollars) is more fun than buying and giving stuff you don’t need or want. And trust us, all this fresh air and laughter will lift your spirits WAY higher than a wrapped gift ever could.
1. Go ice skating at night.
If temperatures dip below freezing in your state, you should be able to find a whole array of free ice skating rinks at parks, lakes, and backyards in your community.
Those of you in warmer spots may need to pay for one of those rinks at the mall (I’m looking at you, Cali), but this is still a cheap and fun tradition for you and a loved one to start. Plus, nighttime ice-skating under the floodlights is one of the top romantic settings of all time.
2. Take a walk in the woods.
One of my favorite weekend adventures in the winter is checking out a state park I’ve never been to before.
If you’ve got your parks pass already this is totally free, otherwise you may have to split the entrance fee with a friend. Head out early in the day to get the most out of the daylight, and pack snacks so you can stay til dusk.
3. Go to a holiday concert.
Every town and city has tons of free or donation-based holiday concerts all throughout November and December, and I encourage you to seek them out.
Whether you’re religious or not, there’s something about music that just brings a sense of peace and calm during the busy holiday season. Carpool with a friend, and maybe stop for some mulled wine afterwards!
4. Host a pantry clean-out potluck.
Challenge your friends to cook a dish using what’s already in their pantry to create a dish to share – websites and apps like SuperCook can help them figure out what to make with what they have! It’ll also help them cut down on costs and food waste (major problems with holiday parties) and push them to get creative in the kitchen. Ask guests to bring an extra Tupperware container and split up the leftovers so they can go home with a little of everything!
5. Have a tree-decorating party.
Invite friends to come help you trim your tree – or fiddle-leaf fig, if that’s more your style.
Since we aren't fans of holiday decorations that end up in the garbage each year, we prefer decorating with consumables – wreaths made with found objects from a nature walk, popcorn and cranberries garlands that can be hung out for the birds after the holidays are over (skip the shellac), and a couple extra candles on your windowsill will do the trick.
6. Host a game night.
I’ll say it: board games are cool again.
With Settlers of Catan taking over millennials’ Friday nights all over the country, this may already be a tradition of yours. But since the holidays are a time for major nostalgia, I say bring out the classics. If you don’t own any, ask friends to bring their favorites or head to a thrift store – there may be missing pieces, but just look at it as an extra challenge!
7. Watch a holiday movie.
All this early darkness makes for the perfect movie-watching environment.
With some of the best classic movies available online these days, all you need is a laptop and some blankets for this free holiday-night-in! Go X-treme and watch a couple in a row. I like Charlie Brown Christmas + It’s a Wonderful Life, a lineup I’ve watched every year since childhood.
8. Host a holiday sing-a-long.
Remember how music and the holidays just go together?
If you have friends who love to belt it out in the car, give them a real stage: your living room! Add lots of blankets and pillows to your floor for cozy seating, and ask your friends to bring their guitars, ukuleles, and cowbells. Have everyone write down their favorite holiday songs on scraps of paper and put them in a Santa hat, then pull them out one by one. Be sure to start early so you can sing as loud as you want before the neighbors go to bed – or invite them over to join in on the fun!
9. Make homemade candles.
We are in full hygge-mode here at Seek United, and candles are Hygge 101.
The great thing about candles is they take up minimal space and have maximal impact. Plus, if you make them yourself, they’re completely zero waste! Collect a few items that you love but don’t currently serve a purpose, such as small jars, pretty teacups, and extra shotglasses, then melt down some wax, add a few drops of essential oils, cut some wicks, and voila – you’ve got handmade hygge!
10. Go sledding.
Remember your favorite childhood activity? Guess what, it’s still fun!
Wait for some fresh powder, then borrow a sled from the family next door or get creative and make one from something you already own, like a cookie sheet (spray it with Pam and leave all those kiddos in the dust). #Adulting Pro-tip: Packing a thermos of hot chocolate + peppermint Schnapps turns this kid-friendly playdate into an adult-worthy adventure.
11. Have a cookie bake-off.
To make your annual cookie-exchange way more interactive, bake them together!
Ask everyone to bring ingredients for a dozen cookies plus extra bowls and mixers, pre-heat the oven, and let the baking begin! Depending on the number of friends you invite, this may be an all-day event, so be sure to have plenty of drinks and snacks on hand – I like to fill up growlers of oatmeal stout from a local brewery, which pairs great with fresh-from-the-oven cookies.
12. Host a New Year’s Swap.
Help your friends jumpstart their new year by hosting a clothing/home-goods/pantry/beauty products swap in January.
Choose a theme and ask for friends to bring those items that no longer spark joy for them (this may include a few unwanted items from this year’s gift-haul), and see if they can spark joy for someone else! Just make sure you bag up the unwanted items and bring them to a donation center the next day – you don’t need these items cluttering up your space!