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The winter solstice can slip right by unnoticed, buried beneath the pageantry of the more well-known December holidays.
But you can celebrate the winter solstice at home with little to no advance preparation.
Why Celebrate the Winter Solstice?
Every year I have the best of intentions about planning an elaborate winter solstice celebration, complete with homemade wassail, ice lanterns lining the front walk, and popcorn and cranberry garlands to decorate the trees outside.
And every year, the scramble to get ready for Christmas, combined with the busyness of having my school-age kids on winter break, foils my plans.
Still, I don’t want the solstice to get swallowed up entirely by Christmas. It is, after all, an ancient holiday that’s been celebrated by people since the dawn of time and requires no particular religious beliefs.
For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, longer days and more sunlight are universal cause for celebration.
The solstice also offers all of us the opportunity to re-attune to the rhythms of nature.
We spend our modern lives so disconnected from the cycles of the seasons; the solstice is a great occasion to pause, remembering we are dependent on nature and responsible for helping our kids become stewards of the planet.
Here are 9 simple ways to honor the shortest day of the year.
How to Celebrate the Winter Solstice at Home
Spend the day/evening by candlelight.
Gather every candle you can find – candles in jars, tealights, pillar candles inside hurricane jars, etc. Spread them around your home and light them.
Then turn off all other lights in your home (with the Christmas tree an acceptable exemption).
Bathing in the warm glow of candlelight will create a cozy ambiance while also serving as a reminder how lucky we all are to have endless sources of light available at the flick of a switch.
Enjoy a fire.
If you have a fireplace, use it!
If you don’t, light some candles and enjoy a fireplace video through your streaming service or on YouTube.
Have a solstice dance party.
This is one of our favorite solstice traditions and requires nothing more than an internet connection and some energy.
(We like to add lemonade as our thirst quencher since it’s so synonymous with sunshine).
Starting with “Here Comes the Sun,” by the Beatles and ending with a song specifically about December darkness called “Where is the Light?”, this playlist features songs to welcome back the sun.
We love a good dance party, but you could also just play it as background music.
Learn about the solstice.
Here’s a good article from National Geographic Kids.
And here’s a short, simple video that gives a simple explanation for littler ones.
Make pomander balls.
I had never heard of these before until recently, but learned they date all the way back to the Middle Ages!
You simply make a design in an orange (or other citrus fruit), and stick cloves in. They’re pretty and smell amazing. Here’s a good tutorial.
Make ice lanterns.
While ice lanterns take a bit of time to freeze and probably won’t be ready on the solstice itself, they’re a beautiful outdoor decoration you’ll be able to enjoy so long as the temperature remains below freezing.
Here’s a good tutorial using materials you likely already have in your recycling bin.
Make paper snowflakes.
Hang them up to enjoy in the wintry weeks ahead.
Enjoy warm drinks as a family.
Cupping your hands around a mug of something hot and delicious is one of winter’s purest pleasures. Whether it’s mulled wine, cider, coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, make sure every family member has a warm drink.
Then enjoy those drinks while engaged in a hygge activity, such as playing a board game or reading together.
Make ice ornaments.
I love this idea for a festive, outdoor winter decoration. These ornaments require nothing more than a muffin tin, string or ribbon, water, and whatever natural objects you want to add to give the ornaments color and texture.
I’m excited to try this activity with my kids.
Even if you haven’t had a single moment to plan ahead, I hope one of these ideas sparks your own plan to celebrate the winter solstice at home with loved ones.