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  • Writer's pictureJayson Toney

10 Traditions to Start this Holiday Season

The holidays are fast approaching and everyone is trying to get in the spirit. Spending time with friends and family is always the best way to spend the holidays, but sometimes it’s nice to try something new. Fort Smith is full of holiday opportunities if you know where to look. Here are some great examples of local holiday activities you can do with your friends and family that might even become a new family favorite tradition.

1. Gingerbread House Contest

There’s nothing better than an art project that doubles as a snack. Having a gingerbread house decorating contest is a fun tradition you can start with your family this year. Having a gingerbread house decorating contest gives everyone the chance to get creative and in the holiday spirit. You can either use everyone's gingerbread houses to create a gingerbread village display or have fun eating them after it’s over.

2. Hot Cocoa and Christmas Lights

Cheesy, but seriously the best holiday duo out there! There's nothing like admiring the gorgeous Christmas lights on the houses in your neighborhood while sipping hot chocolate. If you are looking for a good spot in Fort Smith where you can get both, then check out Creekmore Park! The park puts up thousands of holiday lights every year. You can even ride the Creekmore Holiday Express, a miniature train that takes you on a journey through the lights. Sweet Bay Coffee Co is also right next door to Creekmore. They have a great selection of holiday treats, including hot cocoa, to help keep you warm while you enjoy the park. The best part about this combo is that you can support not one but two local Fort Smith businesses.

3. Baking

Baking is always a fun holiday activity. Everyone loves to eat, especially when you know the food is made with love. If you're looking for a way to spice things up in the kitchen this holiday season, then here's the perfect idea for you. First, you're going to start by doing a little research. Start off by researching different cultures’ holiday treats. See if any traditions go along with making the treats as well. For example, if your family has always wanted to visit Germany, you can bring the experience to them by making traditional German Christmas bread. Learn the history behind the dishes you want to make as a fun way to expand your knowledge and taste palette.

4. Volunteer

One of the most rewarding holiday traditions is to volunteer. Volunteering for those that are less fortunate is one of the best gifts you can give this holiday season. An even better way is to bring your friends and family along. Some of my favorite holiday memories are of my siblings and I volunteering at The Salvation Army, helping pass out food and winter coats. Volunteering is the perfect tradition to start with your family this year.

5. Game Night Tournament

This is a fun family activity taken to the next level. Instead of simply playing board games, make game night itself a game. Start by gathering your favorite games. Next, grab some paper and start drawing out brackets for each game. Play each game tournament-style until you have a winner. Include some kind of prize basket for the winners to choose from. It can be as simple as a basket full of holiday candies from the dollar store. Just wait and see how competitive everyone gets over playing CandyLand so that they can win the red and green bag of Hershey's Kisses. Tournament style is the perfect way to revamp your holiday game night.

6. Movie Marathon

Holiday movie marathons are a classic. Build a fort in your living and hang up some Christmas lights. Pop some popcorn and snuggle up with your family. Grab all of your favorite holiday movies and see how many you can watch in one night. If you need some ideas for your movie marathon, here are a few favorites: Elf, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Polar Express, Home Alone, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and last but not least, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Clay version). It doesn’t matter what movie you watch, as long as they remind you of the holiday spirit.

7. Support Local Productions

Local productions are a great holiday experience and a great way to help give back to the community. The Fort Smith Little Theatre always puts on great holiday productions. Western Arkansas Ballet also has a tradition of putting on The Nutcracker every year. If you have never been to a Ballet, then you won’t want to miss this Fort Smith tradition. Several local schools and art programs put on holiday shows every year and they would love to have your support from the audience.

8. Holiday Photo Shoot

Sending Christmas cards to friends and family is a popular holiday tradition. Even if this is not your thing, having pictures and memories is still important. If you are looking for a more professional setup, Get Snappin' in Fort Smith is a great place to start. They have several different “selfie room” setups with holiday themes. They charge one admission fee of $15 and you can take as many pictures as you like. This is a great way to step up your photo game to a more professional level without the hefty price tag.

9. Get Crafty

Some of the best holiday gifts received are the ones made by hand. Get crafty this season and make DIY ornaments or picture frames with your friends and family. Most dollar stores have sections full of inexpensive holiday crafts right now. Getting to enjoy holiday decorations is fun, but getting to make them yourself is even better.

10. Downtown Shopping

Fort Smith has such a charming historic downtown area. It’s the perfect place to walk and do all of your last-minute holiday shopping. They have a little something for everyone. Part of what makes downtown so special is also the abundance of local businesses. Help support Fort Smith businesses and shop locally this holiday season.


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