By Katy Mabee, Photos by Tim Gouw, Tanaphong Toochinda and Anuja Mary Tilj.

With these tips, you’ll be able to start new holiday traditions that are a little outside the box.

Each year, my December calendar gets filled with holiday parties. It’s an endless loop of after-work networking events, festive weekend parties with friends, followed by a weeklong excursion visiting family in Illinois. It’s fun, but exhausting. 

We all know Christmas is going to be different this year. But instead of mourning the hustle and bustle of past seasons, I’m choosing to think creatively and get excited about a calmer holiday season with new traditions. 

’Tis the season to practice gratitude for all the good things in our lives. Here are a few festive ideas to celebrate the holidays with the ones you love this year. 

Cookies anyone?


Don’t give up on your annual cookie swap party! There’s no reason you can’t have a Zoom baking session with a few of your friends. Treat yourself to a nice bottle of wine and bake a double batch of your favorite Christmas cookies. Box up a portion of your baked goods and deliver them to your virtual baking pals along with a copy of the recipe.

Speaking of cookies…

Don’t forget those who need extra cheer this time of year. If anyone in your life needs extra love right now, be a hero and create a beautiful cookie box just for them. Pick up supplies at your favorite craft store and fill it with a mix of homemade treats and cookies and candies from your favorite grocery store. A handwritten note with your special delivery will mean the world to the recipient. 

Create new traditions at home.


Do as the Danes do and get hyggeligt! In Denmark, the word “hygge” is the special feeling of coziness and contentment. Start a daily afternoon practice of lighting candles and having tea or coffee with a special treat in your favorite comfy sweater. Having a little something to look forward to will bring positive energy to you and everyone in your household.

Try new recipes.

Maybe you’re not having mom’s holiday ham this year. But…maybe you never really liked ham anyway. (I’m not telling!) Who says you can’t have lasagna or sushi for your holiday dinner? Pick out a new recipe that’s exciting to you and have fun doing something completely different. It just might be a new tradition you want to keep!

Baby, it’s cold outside.

We’re lucky to have mild winters in Austin, so there’s no excuse to not bundle up and get fresh air as often as possible! Walks in the park with friends and family is a healthy way to connect and maintain social distance. Or pack up a thermos of hot cocoa (or mulled wine!) and snuggle up with blankets at the park with your quarantine bubble. 

Remember, we are all in this together. Be kind to yourself and fill your world with all the things that make you happy. There are always opportunities for happiness when you find joy in the small things in life.

Check out more holiday tips and ideas in Austin Woman‘s Holiday Market.


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