In the hustle and bustle of holiday parties at work and road trips home to spend time with family, it’s easy to let other relationships slip through the cracks. Setting aside time to celebrate your favorite special occasions with your besties is a fun way to keep the holiday spirit alive throughout the season — and to create great memories with the most important people in your life. Looking for something a little more creative than Friendsgiving and Secret Santa? Here are a few ideas for starting your own holiday traditions with friends, starting this year.

friends over the holidays

1. Do some good in your community. Whether you serve meals side by side at a soup kitchen on Christmas or donate gifts to a local homeless shelter, volunteering together is an amazing way to give back and point your friendship in a positive direction. Not sure where to get started? Think about the causes you and your friends are the most passionate about. A quick Google search for opportunities in your area should yield plenty of results.

2. Host a “Favorite Things” party. Instead of the typical Secret Santa, try something a little different. A Favorite Things party is simple: Everyone comes with something they love within a certain price range — say, your absolute favorite mascara or your fave bottle of red wine — then guests draw numbers for their gifts. Everyone will leave with a fun and useful present, and you’ll get to learn more about your pals and the things they love.

3. Invite your bestie home with you. We all know how hard it is to celebrate the holidays alone. Do you have any friends who don’t have family nearby? If your relatives are cool with it, invite your friends home for the holidays with yours. Your friends will feel super loved by your inclusive gesture, and you will have the chance to introduce your fam to the friends who make your life special. (Just make sure to tell your parents ahead of time if you don’t want them telling embarrassing stories about your childhood.)

If you’re the one with long-distance family, don’t be afraid to ask your friend if you can join in on her family traditions — she’ll probably be more than happy to include you.

4. Have a holiday movie fest. Cozy up with some blankets, brew up some hot chocolate, and turn on your favorite holiday movies to ring in the season. Whether you knock them all out in one fell swoop or dedicate several Saturday afternoons to movie-watching throughout the winter months, you won’t regret stirring up some nostalgia with your BFFs in the comfort of your own living room.

5. Plan a post-holiday staycation. Is there a local boutique hotel or a quaint bed and breakfast in a nearby town you’ve always wanted to check out? Now you have a perfect excuse. Carve out a weekend and book an overnight stay with your pals (who can help shoulder the cost!). Hotel rooms are typically cheaper after the holiday rush — especially when things slow down in early January — which is the perfect time to relax and share hilarious stories from family gatherings.

6. Go holiday shopping together. You have to get your shopping done anyway, so why not knock out two birds with one stone and hang out with your besties while you’re at it? This year, team up with a friend (or a group of them) and brave the mall or Target the day after Christmas. Just don’t forget the Starbucks.

Learn how to Light It Up with our tips and DIYs that create new spins on old traditions. We keep the best but tweak the rest so you can have a memorable experience that’s uniquely you.

What’s your favorite way to celebrate the holidays with your friends? Share your traditions @BritandCo.

(Photo via Getty)