12 Ways to Enjoy Your Holiday Break

When I was growing up my mom had a basket of books that she only brought out during the holiday season. They felt special in that way holiday movies or candy canes do — not necessarily better than other movies or sweets, but somehow more important and worth savoring. One of our books was a 12 Days of Christmas take on the Where’s Waldo concept, and for me and my siblings it remained remarkably difficult (and satisfying) well into middle school years. Each page, as you might imagine, adding more poultry to search for.

Don’t worry, this list does not include “spend hours lost in a chaotic picture book,” but it is full of ideas to make your holiday merry and memorable. A three-week halt on all activities and demands on your time gets rarer as you get older, so soak up every bit of this year’s holiday bliss! Without further ado, 12 Ways to Enjoy Your Holiday Break:

1. Throw a white elephant party or organize secret Santa. Here’s a list of 46 of white elephant gift ideas for 2017 from swim meet style award ribbons for your friends (“Best at Saying What We’re Thinking All the Time” and “Adulting Honorable Mention”) to a book of embarrassing dad jokes and a taco pillow. Happy gifting!

2. Go caroling or deliver gifts to your neighbors. If you live in a neighborhood where everyone carols and ends up somewhere for cocoa, join the fun and spread good cheer! If not, caroling need not be official or Christmas themed. In my neighborhood, a group of retirees sings pop-culture holiday songs in cozy pajamas. Or, if singing isn’t your cup of tea, spread neighborly cheer with one of these 25 DIY gift ideas!

3. Go see Golden Globes nominated movies. The 2018 Golden Globes nominees came out yesterday, and many of the top-nominated films hit theaters this month! Grab your friends and family and go see The Post starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks if you love a good political thriller; see Lady Bird if you haven’t yet — it beat Toy Story 2 for the best reviewed movie of all time; or catch The Greatest Showman if Cirque Du Soleil and musicals are kind of your thing.

4. Play board games beside a cozy fire. The classics — Clue, Monopoly, Scrabble — always hold up, but this holiday season, you should also give these new games a whirl! Smithsonian Magazine deemed Code Names Duet one of the top 10 games of the year. Great for playing with cousins 10 and up, each team pits secret agents against each other and “spymasters” try to guide rival teams with one-word clues. Or play The Voting Game with your friends, a hilarious new game released this year in the vein of Apples to Apples.

5. Have quality family time on a hike or city trek. Wherever you live, it’s likely a bit cold for camping, but bundling up for a day hike followed by hot cider at home is a great family-time activity. If you live in a city, or woods just aren’t your vibe, plan an urban trek instead! Here’s Thrillist’s list of America’s most walkable cities, complete with suggested routes.

6. Bake holiday treats. These 4-ingredient peanut butter fudge bars are quick and easy. Dark chocolate sea salt popcorn is perfect for a party. Old fashioned sugar cookies provide baking and decorative fun!

7. Read a book. Here’s The Washington Post’s list of the best books of 2017. I can vouch that George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo is breathtaking, especially if you’ve got some history buff in you, but if none of these strike your fancy, scroll down! The Post has also gathered 10 of the best graphic novels, 10 of the best mystery novels, 5 of the best memoirs, and more!

8. Volunteer. When I was growing up we used to fill and wrap shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. This organization delivers shoe boxes full of gifts and useful items like toothpaste to children in poverty around the world during the holiday season. Or check out one of these holiday volunteer opportunities that make an impact.  

9. Curl up and watch holiday movies. You probably have your go-to favorites, but if you want to spruce up your holiday repertoire, check out Refinery29’s list of best holiday movies and specials, plus where to stream them!

10. Go ice skating. Most cities, even Applerouth’s not-so-chilly homebase Atlanta, host ice skating rinks in the park throughout the holidays. Grab your friends or family, pull on some skates, and give it whirl! Also, try some of these creative ways to squeeze in a workout during the holidays.

11. Set goals for the new year. As you linger with family, kick back in food comas, and revel in a restful pace of life, use this time to reflect on the past year and think of a goal or few for 2018. This New York Times article offers tried and true advice for how to make an keep a 2018 resolution.

12. Don’t miss Mayfield’s Peppermint Stick ice cream. Okay this last one’s kind of silly, but this creamy, frosty flavor (you know the one with crunchy pieces of peppermint?) is only available in December, and it sells out fast. Grab a carton and have it with cocoa for late night snacks.

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