How to make any holiday fun for the whole family
There are really only two reasons why people don't have fun on holidays. One might be that they never learned how to have fun, possibly due to growing up in a home where family togetherness was lacking, so celebrating special events just wasn't important. The other reason could be that they just don't want to enjoy themselves, and get a sick kind of satisfaction from complaining and criticizing things that bring joy to others. Don't be part of that latter group – life is just too short.
For those suffering from ignorance in the matters of holiday enjoyment, here are a few tips for turning your holiday blah to holiday awe:
- Plan. Let's face it, spontaneous fun is very rare. Most of the time if you want to have fun, you need to plan it. Spend some time just thinking about what you want out of a holiday celebration. Write down some lists of things you enjoy about the holiday and things that you don't. Don't try to cram too much "fun" in or everything will feel forced and fake. Start simple. Put it on the calendar if you hope to see it happen. Get the whole family involved in this brainstorming process. You might be amazed at the little things some people hold dear and how some other events being carried on in the name of tradition are no longer enjoyable or important.
- Get inspired. Your local library has many books on making the holidays special. The Internet alone should be able to spark some major ideas, so do a little research. One method that works around my house is to keep a few of the most important traditions going for a holiday, but also to add something completely new or bold or crazy to make that particular year's holiday stand out. Sick of turkey and all the sides on Thanksgiving? Make turkey enchiladas and have a Thanksgiving fiesta. Call it "Muchas Gracias Day," and celebrate the same sentiment of gratitude, but with a new spin on it. Creativity is essential for having fun.
- Your attitude is contagious. If you aren't committed to having fun, no one else will be. Don't lose heart if your friends or family members make fun of you for wanting to enjoy a holiday. If you want to have fun, have it. People will either admire that about you and join in, or leave and go somewhere they can complain in peace. If you have struggled to enjoy holidays in the past, stay determined to do whatever it takes to enjoy them this year. Scrooges come in all ages, so just remember how that story ended: when confronted with death, a party-pooper decided it was better to enjoy life, and what better time than days of celebration to cultivate that joy of living.
- Avoid burnout. If the whole family looks to you to provide a fun holiday agenda, you will not be having fun for long. Involve as many people as possible. Share in the creative endeavor, the preparation, the expense – and then share in the joy. Also, there is no reason why you can't take a break from a holiday every once in a while and do something different or nothing at all. I've known people who went out to eat on Thanksgiving and didn't cook at all. I've known a family that decided to celebrate Christmas the day after by going on a shopping spree when the sales are great instead of doing the usual gift spiel. Your fun holiday does not have to be a carbon copy of some societal expectation. You have permission to be unique and celebrate with your family in any way that brings you joy. So what if you're the only ones who put up outside lights on Presidents' Day. Or send greeting cards on New Year's Day instead of Christmas. Or decorate a tree for Valentine's Day. Mix it up a little, keep life interesting.