17 Ways to Treasure the Holidays

By Shayna Mace and Shelby Rowe Moyer

Try 31 Days of Gratitude

Every year, season, month and day comes with its difficulties. This year, however, has been on a new level. But recognizing the good in life can help alter the way you feel about the world around you. Scientists have proven that those who consistently express gratitude feel more optimistic.

It’s always a good time to practice this, but in light of the holidays, we want to challenge you to 31 Days of Gratitude. Write down a grateful thought or action for each day of December. To help you get started, here are a few ideas.

  1. Think of one thing you are grateful for.
  2. Donate food to a local food bank.
  3. Phone a friend and tell them how much they mean to you.
  4. Perform a random act of kindness.
  5. Make a goal not to complain for the whole day.
  6. Treat a loved one to a hot drink.
  7. Spend 20 minutes doing something just for yourself.
  8. Write a “Thank You” note to your mail carrier.
  9. Spend quality time with family.
  10. Purchase a small gift for someone who could use a boost.

Send Smiles 

Can’t be with family? Let them know you’re thinking of them by sending a personalized photo gift from Parabo Press — upload your favorite family pics into a photo book, calendar, print set or wall art, and ship it right to your giftee. The best part? You’re buying local with Parabo, a Madison-based, female-run company. parabo.press

Oh, Christmas Tree

If you celebrate Christmas, there’s nothing like heading out to a local tree farm, crunching through the snow and scouting out your perfect fir, pine or spruce. These local farms offer pre-cut or cut-your-own trees; have guidelines in place for COVID-19; plus, many also have gift shops (wear your mask indoors!).

More Fun to Try:

  • Make a gingerbread house
  • Create fun Secret Santa gifts for anonymous porch drop-offs
  • Go ice skating
  • Go snowshoeing
  • Watch Hallmark movies
  • Create a holiday playlist
  • Make homemade holiday cards
  • Design your own holiday theme masks
  • Have a virtual ugly sweater party

Get Crafty

Melanie Gehrke, owner of The Mad Makery, her newly-opened “creative making space” on Monroe Street, offers group and private art and craft lessons, plus take- home DIY kits. She shared this super-simple snowflake craft made with supplies you already have at home.


  • Hot glue
  • Thick paper cut into strips
  • Paint/glitter optional


Fold a strip of paper in half. Add three dots of glue, as shown. Press down to adhere. Repeat with five more strips of paper.


When the glue is dry, bend the paper into two oval shapes. Bend the ends to make a V shape. Repeat with other pieces.


Add glue to the V-shape tab. Attach all the tabs together to form a snowflake.

Get Creative! 

Try longer or shorter strips of paper to change the size of your snowflake. Bend the paper into diamond shapes instead of ovals. Paint your snowflakes or add glitter to make each one unique.

Snag A Local Cocktail Kit 

Whoever came up with this idea is brilliant! Making cocktails at home can be kind of iffy — the proportions have to be just right and buying all the ingredients can be spendy. With these local kits, you get everything you need to make a batch of cocktails.

Mint Mark has six kits you can order online and pick up — including its Rosemary Rye Goldrush and Sangrita 375 milliliter kits. They range in price from $28 to $65. mintmarkmadison.com

Lucille has the hook up as well with kits to make its famous, sweet and citrusy Pink Chimneys ($34) or a classic French 75 ($55), to name a few. To pre-order their kits, order online and click Cocktail Kit in the “Choose a Menu” drop-down menu. lucillemadison.com

If wine is more your thing, Grape Water in Middleton has a Wine + Chocolate Tasting Kit for $39. You can select four canned wine options and Grape Water will pair them with four truffles from Infusion Chocolates. Sounds like heaven. grapewater.wine

Host a Micro-Party 

Limited Edition by Revel is offering a unique alternative to the large-scale gathering right now: A super-stylish, rentable space to host microparties of 10 people or less. (As of press time, gatherings should only be with immediate family members). Owner Sarah Van Dyke and her staff revamped Revel’s craft workshop into a cozy living room with a record player, Instax camera, puzzles, seating, craft add-on options and a bar (everyone’s first cocktail is included in the rental fee!). It’s available until Dec. 31. revelmadison.com

Lovely Lights

Outdoor holiday light displays are a linchpin of holiday fun. Take a walk around your own neighborhood to scout out the best spots. Or, hop in the car and head to Madison’s dazzling Holiday Fantasy in Lights at Olin Park, a drive-through display. The family can walk or drive though the Waunakee Rotary Lights at Village Park. If you’re itching to get out of the house for a longer drive, try Milwaukee’s Holiday Lights Festival or La Crosse’s unbeatable Rotary Lights (see our Winter Getaways article for details).

Cookies Make Almost Everything Better

Whip up these sweet treats this winter. The recipe is provided by our own sales manager, Dena Frisch, who says these sugar cookies are a family favorite!


  • 1 1⁄2 cups butter
  • 5 cups flour
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • In large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. • Beat eggs and vanilla.
  • Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt.
  • Cover and chill for at least one hour or overnight
  • Roll out dough on floured surface 1⁄4- to 1⁄2-inch thick
  • Cut into shapes and place on cookie sheet.
  • Bake about 6-8 minutes and cool.
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