November 25, 2011 05:00 ET

Holiday Entertaining

Traditions With a Twist

MISSION, KS--(Marketwire - Nov 25, 2011) - (Family Features) Traditions help keep people connected over years and generations, and we love the experience of the holidays. For many, special get-togethers create the foundation for how the holidays are celebrated. But what happens when those traditions no longer work? Circumstances, budgets or tastes change, and sometimes you need a little help finding a new way to celebrate.

The good news is, you don't have to completely abandon what you know -- traditions can be easily evolved into something suitable for you and your loved ones.

A recent Bing survey revealed that shaking up holiday traditions is on the minds of many this year. In fact, a major life change -- such as marriage or a new baby -- is the most popular reason (33 percent), with a change in financial situation coming in a close second (30 percent). No matter your reasoning, if you're looking to create new ways to celebrate and entertain this holiday, Bing's lifestyle expert, Karin Muskopf, offers tips for how you can do just that:

Create Your Own Holiday
The holidays are one of the busiest party seasons of the year, and it can be tricky to get everyone together on one specific day. If you're looking to entertain, use to help find ideas and inspiration on how to create your own special day, think outside the box and borrow festive ideas from others.

"To me, it's less important what day of the year it is," said Muskopf, "and it's more about being together with good food and lots of laughs."

If you can't get everyone together at the same time, consider several mini celebrations throughout the season. Or, host an "Eve Before the Eve" party -- celebrating the day before the actual holiday so people can either squeeze in an extra special day with family and friends or simply relax.

To keep things interesting, start a new tradition with a competitive twist. "Our annual holiday party has turned into a highly anticipated event -- Pie Night," Muskopf said. "Each guest bakes his/her own pie to bring to the party for a taste test. Everyone samples a piece of each pie, and we award the 'Most Delicious,' 'Most Festive' and 'Most Fattening' titles in a hilarious ceremony."

However you do it, celebrating together on an off-day creates a memorable experience and a unique bond for all those involved.

Spice Up the Holiday Meal
If you're like many, you've got a few favorite holiday recipes up your sleeve. In fact, nearly half (45 percent) of survey respondents felt that eating and drinking holiday fare is the most cheerful holiday tradition. Holiday meals present a special opportunity to leave a lasting, happy holiday memory with your guests. Here are some fun, delicious ways to enjoy holiday feasting:

  • Make it a potluck -- Rather than burden one family member with all the cooking duties, have everyone bring their own specialty to the table, and ask everyone to bring copies of their recipe to share. Everyone will go home with a full stomach and a delicious keepsake for holidays to come.

  • Serve healthier options -- "My mom's classic holiday recipes are comforting and delicious, but often come with loads of extra calories and fat," said Muskopf. "These days, it's so easy to tweak recipes so they still taste like home but won't leave you five pounds heavier come February. We use Bing Recipes to quickly calculate the nutritional value of our favorite dishes and search for new, healthy options to try!"

  • Add in games -- Incorporate old traditions like holiday poppers as a fun way to kick off the festivities -- just be sure to make each guest wear the paper crown found inside for the rest of the night. Silly pictures and lots of laughs to follow.

Decorate with Holiday Flare
Holiday decorations are no longer restricted to evergreens and twinkling lights -- let your décor reflect your personality.

  • Embrace the rainbow -- While red and green are the traditional holiday colors, nearly any shade can take on a holiday feel when used correctly. Hang pink and white stockings above the fireplace or set the table with plenty of gold accents.

  • Blend the seasons -- Snowflakes and reindeer might best symbolize the winter season, but bend the rules this year by using decorative fruit to spruce up your holiday décor. Fruits wrapped in sugar or plastic ones from any store can add an interesting, colorful aspect to any mantle, table or wreath.

  • Personalize your space -- Don't let all those embarrassing holiday portraits from years past sit in the photo album -- create a holiday gallery wall to display all those fun memories. "Photos are a great way to remember what the season is all about," Muskopf said. "Displaying them creates a fun tradition each year as I go through old photos and decide which ones will make the wall."

For more ideas and inspiration on tweaking old traditions, creating new ones and making this holiday all your own, go to

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