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The holiday season is the ultimate time for being cozy and slowing down to enjoy friends and family. With a few thoughtful touches and solid plan-making, you can quickly transform your home into a space that encourages everyone to slow down and enjoy each other.

Not sure where to start? Try these ideas:

Bring back story time

Reading can be such a soothing activity — perfect for busting the overwhelm of the holiday season. Capture that feeling this holiday season by placing warm and cozy throw blankets, favorite holiday books, and even scented candles around your living space. Just walking into your living room will be an invitation to get snug with a soft blanket and open a timeless classic like “The Polar Express.” Don’t forget the hot chocolate with marshmallows

Grab an apron and start baking

For many families, the holidays include delicious treats that are only eaten during this special time of year. From snowball cookies to Grandma’s fudge, there’s a literal smorgasbord of foods. Pull out your family recipes and make some memories in the kitchen together this year. If baking isn’t your thing — and it’s not for everyone — that’s OK. You can still have your fill of holiday treats. There are so many local bakeries in the Bangor area that would be happy to help.

Throw a party like no other

Over the past several years, a fun new tradition has taken hold: the ugly sweater party. It’s like the holiday parties of yesteryear. Invite your friends and family over to enjoy food and drinks, but there’s a catch — guests have to wear a hilariously ugly sweater. This adds a new dimension to the classic party. If that’s not your thing, consider hosting a potluck or a themed food night. Or, perhaps bring back the classic Yankee Swap gift giving game or host a Secret Santa. Bringing your friends and family into your home to help celebrate the holiday season is a wonderful way to spread some cheer.

Bring back caroling

Even if you don’t have a piano in your living room, you can still enjoy a fun singalong of holiday favorites. Put on “The Sound of Music” and sing your way through this annual movie favorite. Or go all-out and bundle up, then head out with your friends and give your neighbors a show. It’s just like Buddy the Elf said, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.”

Start your own tradition

Why not start your very own tradition? Maybe your family loves watching black and white classics i “It’s A Wonderful Life” while wearing pajamas and eating Chinese take out. Or maybe you gather your friends and wrap gifts for a local wish tree to help underprivileged kids. Whatever your tradition is, as long as it fills your heart with love and allows you to fully enjoy the magic of the holidays.

This story was originally published in Bangor Metro’s December 2019 issue. To subscribe to the magazine, click here.