“It’s a tradition.” That’s the excuse we give for many of our holiday rituals. Traditions have a way of making us feel warm and fuzzy. That in and of itself is a good enough reason to follow a tradition. Although many traditions have been handed down through the family, there is really no reason why you can’t start your new holiday tradition. It took a while for Festivus to catch on, but now you’ll find a Festivus pole as part of an official display at the Florida State Capitol. Are you ready to start a new holiday tradition? Here are some dandy ideas:

Feed The Critters

Did you know that according to legend, animals have the ability to talk on Christmas Eve until the sun comes up? A new holiday tradition could be to take care of the critters in your neck of the woods. We’re not talking about putting sweaters on your own animals. Instead, take some treats out to the woods and leave them for all the creatures great and small. The key is dropping off these treats far from your home. Otherwise, you’ll be overrun for the rest of the year.

The Great Cookie Exchange

We already know that baking cookies are a must. Why not bake them with a bunch of friends? Each person brings a single favorite cookie recipe. While baking, crack open a couple of boxes of wine and you’ve got yourself a fun party. Plus, lots of fresh baked goodies.

You And Yours Through The Ages

Sending out Christmas cards with a family photo has been a long honored tradition. It’s also been one that has lent itself to many awkward poses. Here’s a fun idea: Take the same family photo every year. Everybody wears the same outfits (or at least Santa hats) and sits in the same spot. Before you know it, you’ll have a great catalog of how everyone has changed over the years. Extra credit for wearing the same ugly Christmas sweaters.

Go Old School

We all came from somewhere. Perhaps this is the year you can do a little research into your family’s cultural heritage and borrow a tradition from that culture. There will be plenty of traditions and recipes to pick from.

Give Back Some Time

Starting with Thanksgiving, we get into the “I’m grateful” mode, which is a very good mode to be in. Sadly, that attitude often wanes by the time the ball drops on New Year’s Eve. Maybe you can show your gratitude in other ways. You could start a Christmas tradition of volunteering with your family. Pick a charity. Adopt a family. Donate toys. Feed the homeless. The opportunities to give back are truly endless and what a great lesson you’ll be teaching the young ones!

What is your favorite holiday tradition?