By Karine Melissa

Special to the South Florida Times

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for me. A garden-fresh smell of pine fills the air leaving an irresistible feeling of love. It’s the season where family and friends come together to celebrate the beauty of relationship. Now, I know when everyone gets together it’s hard to keep it all happy go lucky. But for the most part, there’s a sense of unspeakable joy in the air for the season. When you get together with your loved ones this year, what’s on the agenda? Chances are you’ll be cooking and eating … and eating … and eating. But what else can loved ones do together that will keep the bliss of the season flowing through the air? Here are some ideas on things to do with your loved ones as you cheer on the Holidays:

1 – Ugly Christmas Sweater Party: Instead of just a regular family dinner, give it a theme! The ugly sweater is the most common, but you can give it your own little twist. Since we live in South Florida and the sun may be shining bright, instead of sweaters, you can use t-shirts or socks. The pictures will be fun and you’ll be sure to have lots of laughs creating memories for years to come.

2 – Light it Up: Family and friends can come together on a special night to decorate a home. It can be the house where the main family dinner will be or everyone can simply pick a home to decorate each year. Everyone can chip in with a few boxes of lights and decorations. Put on a Christmas playlist and get to work. At the end, count down to one and light it up! It will be an unforgettable moment with loved ones.

3 – Cookies for Santa: This one’s for the kids! Gather all of the kids in one place to bake cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve night. Prepare cookie stuffers like chocolates, gummies and macadamia nuts. Decorate an area with plates of cookies and a cup of milk for Santa. You can have the kids write a letter to Santa too. Oh! Be sure to wake up in the middle of the night and leave the cookie crumbs for the kids because we all know, who the “real” Santa is!

4 – Secret Santa: Connect your loved ones with this all-time favorite gift game. There’s even a Secret Santa app that will distribute the names for you! Give everyone a minimum gift amount and let them run with it. Feel free to add a twist to it! Tell everyone to get a gift that starts with the first letter of the person’s name. That’ll add some fun and laughter to the openings.

5 – Holiday Movie Night: Do you ever want to just sit back and relax during all the holiday excitement? Well this is the perfect moment. Gather everyone for a movie night. Pick two holiday options that are classics. Then have everyone vote. Majority rules. Pop some popcorn, kick up your feet and enjoy the night!

6 – Drive By: This is one of my favorite ways to cheer on the holidays! It’s when your loved ones pack up in a few cars and drive around different neighborhoods where the Christmas lights are fabulous. Get ready to share a lot of “ooh’s and ah’s.” It’s sure to be a magical evening!

7 – Love Ornaments: Google “Do-It-Yourself” (DIY) ornament making ideas and choose the ones you like. Many of them use household items that you already have. Everyone can choose someone in the family they’d like to make an ornament for and hang it on the tree. This adds a special touch to the holiday season. It’ll make your loved ones feel extra special. Just place all the supplies on a table, play some music, and have a blast creating your love ornaments.

All of these ideas are affordable and easy to do. I encourage you to enjoy South Florida this holiday season. Check the event calendar for special moments you can share with your loved ones. Finally, in all of the hustle and bustle, be sure to stop and smell the feeling of love in the air. Whether you’re celebrating the birth of Christ or missing those you love, take the time to show someone how much you appreciate them. Above all else, find a way to meet a need. The more you give, the more you will always have. Cheers to the Holidays!