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Hey, we’re not knocking time-tested activities like stringing popcorn, caroling and watching A Charlie Brown Christmas. But if you’re feeling more ho-hum than ho-ho-ho, it’s time to reboot your family’s holiday habits. Here’s a list of fresh ideas (don’t worry, we checked it twice).

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Start a “Letters to Santa” Time Capsule

Holidays offer a baked-in reason for kids to reflect on their behavior. Ask each family member to write a letter to Santa detailing the naughtiest and nicest things they did this past year. Store those letters someplace safe and do not open until Christmas 2017.


Organize a Volunteering Day

It’s never been easier to get even super-young kids involved in philanthropy (thank you, Internet). From cleaning up litter at a nature preserve to making crafts at a children’s hospital, sites like will connect you with child-friendly volunteer opportunities in your area. (Kind of takes the edge off how much you just spent on that Wii.) 

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Plan a Family Potluck

Let each family member prepare their own signature dish for a holiday feast—even if it means you’ll end up eating nachos and brownies for breakfast on Christmas morning. Correction: Especially if it means you’ll end up eating nachos and brownies for breakfast on Christmas morning.   


Have a Toy Exchange

Start a tradition that organizing consultant Marie Kondo would celebrate: For every gift your kids receive, ask them to donate one toy they no longer play with to kids in need. Do you see what I see? It’s clutter leaving your house.

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Institute the Crazy Pajama Dress Code

As celebrities have taught us, the whimsical onesie market has never been stronger. See also: great advances in blanket technology. If you ever needed an excuse to loaf around in velour all day, it’s called December 26. Buy every family member (grandparents included) the most out-there loungewear you can find and encourage them to wear it for at least 48 hours. Repeat next year.

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