It’s the most wonderful time of the year! There’s something so exciting about the holiday season, and if you’re newly engaged or married, there’s even more to celebrate this Christmas than usual! To make the season truly magical, we’ve rounded up nine ways to make the most of the holidays and start new family traditions of your own.
1. Fill your home with memories.
There’s something about the holidays that makes us feel nostalgic and sentimental. Whether you popped the question or walked down the aisle, you’ve had a big year, so commemorate it! Print out those photos, put them in frames, and get to hanging. If you’ve got a tree in the living room, decorate it with ornaments that tell your story. It could be shells from your Hawaiian honeymoon, a miniature wine glass to symbolize your vineyard engagement, or another representation of a moment you really loved. Do the same every year so your tree can tell your love story!
2. Honor family traditions.
Think about the things that made the holidays special for you as children, and find ways to weave them into your adult lives. It could be choosing a live tree for that delicious smell, renting a classic movie (ahem, Love Actually), or setting out a spread of the junk food your mom only let you and your siblings have once a year. You can’t do it all, so this is also a good opportunity to practice your negotiating skills.
3. Make your own traditions.
Childhood was fun, but you’re creating a home of your own now, so pick a few things that you can put into practice every year—and maybe even share with your own kids. Open a gift on Christmas Eve, make nachos while you’re decorating the tree, or try out that baked French toast recipe you’ve been eyeing. Who knows, it could become your new Christmas morning favorite!
4. Have a cookie-frosting night.
Even if your fiancé is all thumbs in the kitchen, chances are they'll get in touch with their inner eight-year-old and love helping you bake cookies (and frost them). Want to level up? Try your hand at a gingerbread house. Though, a warning: If you make from scratch, the assembly process could be a test of your patience!
5. Go caroling.
Even if you can't hold a tune, there's something special and joyful about singing old holiday carols on your neighbors' doorsteps, or just in the comfort of your own living room. Why not make this old-fashioned pastime one of your yearly holiday traditions? You'll definitely score some bravery points from us!
6. Plan time for just the two of you.
With holiday parties and family gatherings galore, it can be hard to prioritize your relationship when the holidays roll around. Set aside a time that’s for just the two of you so you can reconnect without distractions, reflect on the past year, and dream together about what the year ahead might hold. Writing it all in a special notebook that you keep in a special place in your home can be a wonderful bonding exercise that you look forward to each year.
Traveling to see your loved ones? Make a reservation at your favorite local restaurant a few days before you leave so you can squeeze in some alone time. Another idea we love? Spending your first holiday season as a married couple as, well, a married couple! If you live near family, you opt to have Christmas morning alone and then meet up with everyone for the afternoon, or see your families on Christmas Eve and spend all of Christmas day in your pajamas in front of the fireplace, with no responsibilities.
7. Decide how to divide your time.
The hardest part about the holidays? Splitting your time between each of your families. Before the season is in full swing, sit down and talk about your game plan. Instead of trying to be fair to everyone, first decide what works for the two of you—keeping your calendars and budgets in mind. Figure out how you’ll want to alternate time, whether that’s switching back and forth between who gets you for Thanksgiving or Christmas every year or spending one holiday alone and alternating the other annually. Find a balance between making the most of the season and giving yourselves time to enjoy it together. Not sure where to start? Ask your parents how they split time as newlyweds. They just might have learned something useful—and it will remind them of how challenging it can be, encouraging them to go easy on you!
8. Take a goofy Christmas photo.
Even if the "real" holiday photo you put on your card each year is more traditional, consider throwing on goofy sweaters or some crazy glasses and taking a more humorous photo to frame on the wall each year. Friends and family (and your future children?) will love seeing your lighter side, but the best part is that it will make the two of you laugh year after year.
9. Get involved.
The holiday season can start to feel a little self-indulgent, between all the parties, travel, and presents you’ve got in mind. Take some time to give back with your partner by your side, putting it all in perspective. Look for a local organization that allows you to “adopt” a child or family to buy Christmas presents, head to a food bank to help pack up holiday meals, or join in to decorate an assisted living center or hospital waiting room. Choose an activity that you’ll love to do year after year, turning it into a family tradition. You’ll love how good you feel once you’ve given back—and giving is what the season is really all about!