present-redSometimes I think traditions get old and boring. I want to change tradition and find a new and exciting twist. Last month, my family and I took a trip to Italy. Prior to the trip my social media feeds were already full of pumpkin farms, Thanksgiving recipes and Black Friday shopping alerts. In Italy, not a sight of orange or turkeys could be found, although I did see the option of pumpkin on one menu. It felt refreshing to experience a different fall.

Upon our return, my husband asked me if I was “going to get all crazy decorating for Thanksgiving” the moment we got home. His words, not mine. I told him “not this year!” That lasted two days. I was quickly reminded of the nostalgia that goes with our cultural traditions. Our family traditions for Thanksgiving have always been the same: decorate with fall foliage, cue up the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pies, turn the TV to football and let the smells of delicious home cooking permeate the house all day. How could I think anything else would be more enjoyable?  Nostalgia wins! Some holiday traditions just need to stay the same.

So, in the spirit of nostalgia and traditions, Thanksgiving is the gateway to the holiday season. December is right on its heels, beckoning to fill your schedule with more festivities. What are your favorite activities to celebrate and enjoy for the holidays? Do you repeat the same activities each year or try new ones? Whether you have a young family, out of town guests or just enjoy taking in the holiday spirit, here is a list of our family’s 12 favorite holiday activities in the Pacific Northwest. Of course, we start off with the Thanksgiving feast!

1. Turkey Trots, 5Ks – Thanksgiving Day in Bellevue, Seattle, Issaquah, Tacoma.
2. Downtown Seattle Tree Lighting – and enjoy the holiday carousal afterwards.
3. Zoo Lights – Wild Lights @ Woodland Park Zoo or Zoo Lights at Tacoma Point Defiance.
4. Northwest Railway Museum’s Santa Train – 20 minute trip from North Bend to Snoqualmie.
5. Bellevue’s Snowflake Lane
6. Winter Beer Fest – Hangar 30 in Magnuson Park, food trucks, first weekend in December.
7. Pacific Northwest Ballet’s The Nutcracker
8. Leavenworth’s Bavarian Christmas – and sleigh ride.
9. Christmas Ship Parade – Lake Washington and Puget Sound locations.
10. Monorail ride from Pacific Science Center to Westlake Center – see the city lights.
11. Gingerbread Village @ Sheraton Seattle – Benefiting JDRF, check out the theme this year!
12. Issaquah’s Reindeer Festival – at Cougar Mountain Zoo.

Whatever your holiday traditions are, we hope it’s a season of enjoyment!