Much of what makes the holiday season so special is the traditions that people hold dear.

Much of what makes the holiday season so special is the traditions that people hold dear.

While families have traditions that stretch back decades, there is plenty of opportunity to embrace new means of celebration to breathe new life into Christmas, Hanukkah or the season's other holidays.

Chances are, you're already hanging stockings or going caroling this year. You can add some of these and modify as they fit for your family.

1. Feed the wildlife. During the cold days of winter, birds and small animals that don't hibernate may find it difficult to forage for food. By trimming an outdoor pine tree with edible snacks, you'll have a beautiful tree and one that benefits the wildlife. String peanuts and other nuts for the squirrels. Make little ornaments out of suet and string for the birds. Berries and corn can be enjoyed by all. Be sure to choose a tree that is far enough away from the home, so you don't have too many scavengers hunting and pecking around the house.

2. Create a photo Advent calendar. Make your own Advent calendar that has small doors that open up to reveal photos of different family members. Or use a collection of children's pictures that showcase how they've changed as they've grown older.

3. "Adopt" a child for holiday gifts. Each year, you can bring a smile to a child in need by purchasing a present for an underprivileged kid. Some post offices sponsor "Letters from Santa" events where participants can respond to one of the thousands of letters mailed to the North Pole. Or work with a local charity that organizes events to bring gifts to children in hospitals or in foster care.

4. Holiday story countdown. Every night in December, watch a movie or read a story that tells an uplifting holiday tale. Use this as a method of counting down until Christmas. On Dec. 24, reading "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" should suffice.

5. Remember someone who has passed on. The holiday season is one made beautiful by lit candles and twinkling lights. Remember a loved one or a friend who has passed away by lighting a remembrance candle in his or her honor. It's a way this person can still be part of the festivities.

6. Have a holiday sing-along. Sure, it may be tradition to go around the neighborhood singing carols, but it's just as fun indoors. Have a singing party where guests are given lyrics to popular tunes they can sing around the piano or karaoke machine.

7. Bring some joy to a public servant. Police officers, firefighters, military personnel - many of these workers do not get off for the holidays. There is a certain number of public servants who must remain on call in the event of an emergency. Treat these people to something enjoyable when they may be missing their own festivities. Cook or cater a meal for a firehouse, deliver cookies to the police station or put together care packages for people living on a military base.

8. Banish the holiday blues. When the holidays are set to go for another year, many people find they become a little down. After all, a home that was once filled with merry trinkets may now go back to the bare essentials. Create a tradition where everyone in the family receives one more gift - a personalized ornament that can be used next year - that's given in January before the decorations are packed away. It's another opportunity to open a present and it symbolizes looking forward to the joy of next year.