This time of year is full of to-do list items. But it's worth it to add one — or a few — more in the form of new Christmas traditions you can start with your spouse.
"Traditions help to create a foundation for a new marriage," explains Lesli Doares, marriage coach and author of Blueprint For A Lasting Marriage, "because they bring shared meaning and are done with intention."
So, here are six you may want to begin this year, according to our experts.
1. Send out holiday cards.
You've wanted an excuse to send out cute, custom cards for a long time — and now that you're married, you have one. "The couple can design a card, use new or blended themes, or include a picture," Doares suggests. "It can be their unique calling card, greeting those they care about as a new couple and family," which means that each year, you can have the tradition of designing a new card, together.
2. Celebrate 12 days of Christmas
You know the saying: Go big or go home. You and your partner could go big by celebrating not one but 12 days of Christmas together, but keep it manageable by finding small ways to rejoice each day. "Surprising your partner in both big and small ways can help ease some of the stress the holidays can bring," says Doares. "And it puts intentional and positive focus on each other, which is always good for a relationship."
3. Attend a holiday themed event
'Tis the season… for holiday plays, performances, and events. So choose a concert or production you can see this year and every year moving forward, suggests relationship expert and psychotherapist Toni Coleman, who also says that if you share a different faith than your spouse, you should make an effort to attend a performance for each. "There are also tree lighting and menorah lighting ceremonies — and lots of other themed events to choose from," she says.
4. Give back.
You've got a lot to be thankful for (you've got each other, after all). So spread the cheer each year to others less fortunate than yourselves. "Whether you adopt a person from an Angel Tree, shop for Toys for Tots, serve meals at a shelter or be generous in some other way, acknowledging your blessings protects against taking each other and your life together for granted," says Doares.
5. Throw a holiday party or get-together.
Whether you invite your closest friends over for asnacks and holiday-themed games — pin the tail on Rudolph, anyone? — or open your home to all your neighbors, it's up to you. The point is to welcome others to your new family and home, together. "These traditions often persist through the years and become a cherished part of a family's celebration," Coleman says.
6. Whip up a special meal.
As nice as Christmas carols and presents may be, Christmastime meals may even be better. "Whether it's holiday breakfast, holiday dinner or a late meal after Midnight Mass, food is a source of joy and connection," says Doares. This year, start the tradition of whipping up something special. "Having specific foods that are part of a yearly event help to make it both special and anticipated," she says. "Making the meal together, or at least one signature dish, draws you into the spirit of the holidays and the sense of connection they can bring."