With fall in full swing and the holidays just around the corner, many of us are looking forward to events with family and friends. This year’s activities are likely to play out very differently than last year’s (in the best way), so we wanted to start thinking about ways to make intentional connections, both in-person and virtual, with enough time to put them into action.
Gather & Share
It’s been too long since we were able to gather with loved ones! Now that it’s possible again, many hugs are in order, especially for the parents and grandparents we haven’t seen in so long.
A great way to honor and connect with these older generations is to record their traditions and recipes. Whether writing by hand in a notebook or using an online service, recording your family’s traditions preserves them for years to come. While you’re at it, you could even create a family recipe book to share.
Host a Cooking Competition
The holidays are still a few weeks out, which means there’s still time to notify everyone to prepare for some friendly competition. Pick a doable recipe—maybe even a family recipe—and challenge everyone to manifest their inner Julia Child on gathering day. Those who don’t care to participate in the culinary games can still perform their compulsory family duties by serving as judges in a blind taste test.
Alternatively, if your family is less of the passing down recipes for generations type and more of the let’s go out for Thanksgiving kind, shift gears by roping everyone into a cooking class. This activity can be found in most cities and even more so now, online. There’s nothing like getting a little out of your comfort zone to stir up some good laughs.
Practice Mindful Eating
At Chosen Foods, we think about food all day long. We’ve noticed that in the foodie world we live in, there’s always much talk about sourcing ingredients, preparation, and the actual cooking process, but hardly any as to how we consume it.
Practice mindful eating this holiday season. Mindfulness at the dinner table is about creating space for awareness and enjoying the moment. Some simple ways to practice include breathing deeply between bites and pausing for good conversation. Notice every distinct flavor and texture. Pay attention to the satisfaction that comes with enjoying a good meal with loved ones.
If overeating during the holidays is a concern, listen to your stomach and make sure you’re staying hydrated throughout the day. Many people overeat simply out of dehydration.
Write Letters By Hand
Throwback! Just a couple of decades ago, writing letters was still very common. Today, when we’re surrounded by every possible form of communication, this antiquarian practice has become somewhat of a novelty. But it’s also one of the most intentional activities you can take on.
- Send a handwritten note to an elderly loved one across the country (or even the world) and you’re likely to put a giant smile on their face.
- Get the kids involved. Ask them to use colored pencils to decorate a card you’ve penned.
- Start a pen pal project with a stranger (and we don’t mean a random passerby on main street). There are tons of programs devoted to connecting people via this lost art, and it serves a real need for addressing loneliness with the elderly, veterans, and even children in foster care.
- Drop a postcard in the mail. Whether you’re traveling or just want to share a scenic vista of your home city, postcards are a fun, stress-free way to share your sentiments with someone you care about. Pick one up at a corner shop, scrawl some heartfelt words, and pop a stamp on it.
Ready, Set, Swap Recipes
Ever heard of a recipe swap? The gist is to share one of your favorite recipes with a friend, then when they’re finished, they share one of theirs with you. Ways to make this idea come to life include:
- Building a basket: Grab a wicker basket from your closet and fill it with dry goods (beans, rice, lentils, spices, avocado oil), and drop it off at your friend’s place. If you know they’ll be home when you stop by, feel free to include items that need to go straight into the refrigerator.
- Recipe swap party: Invite a group of friends over for dinner and drinks. Guests should be required to arrive with a recipe (printed or basket form, whichever the party rules specify). Draw numbers from a hat so assignments are random. Everyone leaves with a fun and delicious experiment to take on!
- Intergenerational recipe swap: Have your nana share her favorite childhood recipe (goulash, cottage pie, rhubarb pie) with you, while you select your favorite 21st-century recipe for her to try (pumpkin mac n’ cheese, avocado deviled eggs).
Start a New Tradition
We talked about creating a new tradition of eating chili on Halloween in our last blog post. If your family’s list of traditions is looking rather short, why not add to it? Traditions bring color and festivity to every event and give you something to look forward to each holiday season.
- Backyard camping or sleepover night: Set up tents in the backyard or move the furniture in the living room, whichever is more your speed and weather appropriate. The details don’t really matter here; the point is to pile together in sleeping bags and share scary stories, s'mores, and hot cocoa (virgin for the kiddos and spiked with whiskey for everyone else).
- Tree decorating: Stringing lights and hanging bulbs is so much more than just a task; it’s an inaugural celebration of the winter season. Set aside a day when everyone in your family can attend. Light a pine-scented candle, throw some cookies in the oven, stream vintage Christmas movies on the tele.
- Craft night: With endless ideas on Pinterest, it’s easy to select fun crafts year after year that everyone can use. Add an extra layer to the challenge by vowing to incorporate sustainable materials, because let’s be honest, paper turkeys are cute but they wind up in the garbage.
Are we right in our proclamation that homemade gifts are the best? What better way to show someone you care than by toiling for hours over a slightly wonky set of knit socks?
Just kidding. In all truth, receiving a homemade gift is often more heartfelt than some of the best store-bought presents. For example, think back to a time when someone gave you a hand-poured beeswax candle. Perhaps it wasn’t as refined as the French baguette scented stunner you picked up at Bath and Body Works’ last sale, but we’ll bet you savored every burn.
The gift of a homemade meal.
If all else fails and you can’t think of what to make for someone you love, make them your favorite recipe and deliver it to them personally. Include any accoutrements necessary to enjoy the meal at its best, such as sauces or toppings. For an extra special touch that shows how much you care, pen a handwritten card expressing your gratitude for the relationship, then throw in your favorite bar of dark chocolate for a sweet ending to a very thoughtful meal.