Holiday Innovations That Bring New Meaning to the Season of Celebration

| By Editorial Staff

The holidays are steeped in tradition. Stockings hung above fireplaces. Cookies left out for Santa. Garland. Ornaments. Stringed lights and 24-hour holiday music stations.

It is the culmination of all of these traditions that make people smile and look forward to “the most wonderful time of the year,” even in the heat of the summer.

But even longstanding traditions had to start from somewhere. Someone, long ago, tapped into his or her imagination and said, “What if we …”

  • “What if we hung a mistletoe from the doorway?”
  • “What if we brought a tree inside our home?”
  • “What if we pawned off this fruitcake to one of our distant relatives?”

As much as the holidays are about tradition, they’re also about innovations, which is why we’re celebrating this holiday season by recognizing some of the 21st century’s most innovative approaches to rejoicing in holiday cheer.

An alternative to Christmas stockings

Christmas stockings are fairly common in homes across the country. For weeks those stockings remain empty. But come Christmas morning, they’re filled with tiny gifts (or coal, depending on the type of year you had).

Stockings are cute, and mighty seasonal. But why not start a new tradition with repurposed or found objects? Baskets lined with burlap are a cost-friendly and reusable option. You can even personalize your baskets with brass letters or numbers that can be picked up at any local hardware store.

Downsize on your Christmas tree

There are a lot of reasons to rethink your Christmas tree tradition. If you have a dog, you might know one reason off the bat (No, that’s not a toilet!). But think about the space these trees take up, or the mess they leave behind. Or the fact that you’re chopping down a tree that might’ve been a home to countless animals.

Whether your space is too small for an oversized tree or you’re just looking to break from the norm, consider a vase loaded with tall, sculptural branches (or blooming branches) from your local florist. You can spray paint your non-blooming branches to add a bit more pizazz.

Make your Christmas lights smarter

When we mention the phrase “hanging Christmas lights,” chances are images of falling off ladders and wrestling with knotted wires dance through your head. Yet no matter how hard or stressful hanging lights can be, we refuse to give up this tradition.

Good for us! Persistence should be celebrated. But what if you could have the fancy lights, without all the heartache? PlayBulb gives you that opportunity.

PlayBulb is a smart light bulb with a built-in speaker and light system that you can control from an app in your smartphone. You can add these bulbs to your yard and porch lights. Not only will your yard be festive in appearance, but you’ll have a built-in sound system to boot. Also, with the PlayBulb app, you can synchronize your lights to pulse in rhythm with your Christmas music. And it takes no more than 25 minutes to set it all up.

Take that, The Great Christmas Light Fight!

The modern-day take on holiday cards

Show of hands: How many people have received a bland holiday card in the mail that either was tossed out pretty quickly, or lost somewhere along the way?

That’s what we thought.

Why not breathe new life into these holiday cards by thinking outside the box?

For starters, you could hop on the video bandwagon. Create your own video on your phone or computer, or use Animoto.com to record a personalized video holiday greeting. Sure, a photo of you, your dogs, Santa, and your child (who, according to that last holiday card you sent out, is apparently deathly afraid of Santa) is personal. But a video message is far more personal, don’t you think?

Or, if your insistent on sending something people can hold, why send a card printed on throwaway paper? Step up your game with cards made from real birch wood or letterpress cotton. Night Owl Paper Goods offers non-disposable holiday cards that are designed to be displayed like holiday décor for many years to come.

Is it time to start brand new traditions?

The holiday season is, without question, a time to pay homage to your family traditions. But sooner or later you have to start creating your own, customized traditions to pass down to future generations.

Maybe this is the year you bid farewell to the big tree? Or it could be the year you sit back, drinking your eggnog while you watch your neighbors fall off their ladders. The sky’s the limit!

Whether you choose one of these innovative holiday ideas or come up with your own, remember: traditions weren’t always traditions. Somewhere along the line, someone with a spark of genius thought to him or herself: “What if we …”

Is this your “What if we …” year?