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Home-Making Holiday Traditions

A house – – no matter its size, style or location – – is just four walls and a roof until it’s filled with family and friends. Most of us have holiday traditions that make the house feel like home this season. Here is a sampling of the best ones – – old, new, and just plain fun.

The Tried and True

  • Gingerbread Houses. I’m a purist. The final product must be decorated only with edible items. It doesn’t have to be difficult, though. The graham cracker variety is as simple as it gets. There are plenty of easy “make it from scratch” recipes too.  Fun tips: Cover the cardboard the house sits on with icing “snow”; pretzel sticks make a great “wood pile” out back; Andes mints are perfect for shutters; Chex cereal squares on the roof make it look thatched.
  • Caroling. The more musically inclined among you can sit at the piano or play the guitar, or you can simply wander door-to-door spreading musical holiday cheer. It’s not about the performance. Some of your friends may not even be able to carry a tune. It’s really about the camaraderie (and, in my great ‘hood, with my great neighbors, it’s also about the pre-caroling wine and post caroling “adult” hot chocolate.)

New Ideas That Can Become Traditions

  • Jigsaw Puzzle. You can get a pretty, holiday-themed one and leave it out on a centrally located table for family and visitors to work on as they pass through.
  • Do Unto Others. Take the whole family to a shelter to serve a meal, or adopt a family to provide with groceries or presents. The kids will grouse at first, but here’s betting they’ll look back fondly on the time they spent with you, helping their neighbor.

Pure Joy

  • Don’t Forget Where You Are. If you’ve been living in the DC Metro area longer than a year and haven’t taken in the Mount Vernon candlelight holiday event, ice skated at the DC outdoor rinks, or visited the National Christmas Tree, shame on you. Get out there now! Your friends in other regions are going to be so jealous of your social media picture posts!
  • Take a Good Old Fashioned Drive. Surely someone in your neighborhood has gone way over the top with his holiday lights. Turn off the TV and pretend it’s the 1970s when a family drive was the height of entertainment.

Houses and homes: not the same thing! Wise homeowners don’t have to exert much effort to live in the latter. Now, go forth and be merry!

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