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Joy to Your World: How to Make Holidays Meaningful

Feel-Good Holiday Traditions

Members of share the traditions that make their holidays relaxing and enjoyable.

"When dinner's done, it's 'dirty Santa' at our house. Everyone brings a wrapped grab-bag gift. We put them in a pile and take turns either choosing one, or taking away what someone else has already opened. Before long, we're all laughing hysterically. At the end, we swap for what we want, and everybody's happy."


"The last few days before Christmas I visit the stores, but not to shop. Instead, I go because I love the hustle and bustle and the music and energy. I sip a coffee, stroll at my pace, and savor the holiday spirit."


"Each night of Hanukkah we have a different theme. After we say the blessings and light the candles we might play board games, read new books out loud or, if it's the weekend, watch several DVDs. And one night instead of exchanging gifts we all go shopping for a charity like Toys for Tots or the local food bank."


"After the partying is done, I write myself an e-mail about the good, the bad, and the ugly of the season. Then, for next year, I have a heads up on which of my experiments could be repeated and which I should skip."


"Two days before the winter solstice—which will be on December 21 this year—we light a candle in honor of all who sacrificed in the past to make our lives better. The next night we light a second one for those who are currently giving their all. On the solstice day itself we light a third and pray that we may have the opportunity to be of service to others in the year to come."