Instead of a cookie exchange, invite friends to get together for a recipe exchange.
Set a theme: it could be fast meals for school nights. Holiday hors d'oeuvres. Holiday desserts.
Then, throw a holiday potluck party where everyone brings their favorite dish and copies of the recipe.
You go into the holidays (and the new year) armed with new menu ideas designed to make everyone's lives simpler and more delicious.
There's so much to do for the holidays that everyone in the needs to chip in. Here's a fun way of delegating tasks:
The first person to hang all his or her bulbs wins a special gift, surprise, outing - whatever is treasured in your family and is likely to be worth working a bit for. Even for the youngest family members.
One night I had some friends over to help decorate our tree. In the middle of decorating, we noticed two of our girls - about 8 at the time) curled up on the couch listening to a Christmas story on the radio.
In this visual, virtual reality age, we often forget how listening to stories spar the imagination. Regardless of age.
With that in mind, designate one night this holiday season as a story night. Make some hot chocolate. Then turn off the lights, sit by the fire and read aloud to one another.
Near virtual silence can indeed be golden, especially during the holiday season.
There are many ways our families can help the less fortunate this holiday season. But kids need a face. Why not pick some family in your church, temple, or neighborhood who's had a particularly rough year and figure out something to do or buy for them? Then do it.
Leave it on the doorstep with an anonymous note. Kids love helping - and they really love secrets.
Throw a holiday craft party for your kids and their friends and families. Choose three or four holiday crafts, designed for various ages and artistic skill levels. Gather all the materials needed for each crafts.
Parents and kids will come, enjoy a little brunch and spend the afternoon making gifts for grandparents and teachers, or creating mini holiday masterpieces to become part of their home's holiday decor.
You can target the guest list toward a specific age group. Or just provide craft ideas and supplies for various ages. Note to Santa's helper: Smaller crafts will be better here. New traditions can not only be easy to create, they can make time shared more fun in the years ahead.