8 Things You Can Do To Get Into The Holiday Spirit

Ready or not, the holidays are just around the corner. Shake off the end-of-autumn inertia and ease yourself into the jolliest of seasons. Where to start? So glad you asked.

1. Go for a ride on the festively bedecked Silver Beach Carousel It is magical, really. The kids will ooh and aah over the decorations and sparkly lights, and some of that enthusiasm will undoubtedly rub off on even the most crotchety of grownups. It also makes a great backdrop for Christmas cards (we did that last year), so you can knock that one off your list. .

2. Make an advent calendar.

I put together a really simple one last year of fun activities and it gave us all something to look forward to each morning. I'll share it with you soon. There are also probably a million examples on Pinterest. Or just buy the old-fashioned ones with chocolates from the supermarket. No one's judging. Maybe get one for yourself too.

3. Mark your calendar for one of the festive events coming up.

We just updated our calendar with a bevy of yuletide festivities, including lighting ceremonies, Santa parades, Nutcracker tea parties, holiday musicals and special story times. Check 'em out. Let us know if we missed something.

4. Volunteer.

Help deck the halls at the Outdoor Discovery Center or Holland Museum (also on the calendar). Go into your local animal shelter to spend an hour or two walking dogs or playing with kittens. Collect money for a cause near and dear to your heart. Talk to your kids about Toys for Tots and then go to the store to pick out a couple toys to donate. There are about a million ways to give back over the coming weeks.

5. Check out the Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown! exhibit

More than 50 vintage Peanuts seasonal goodies, comic strips, a Letters to Santa writing station and photo op are on display at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. Snoopy will get you in the mood for Christmas like a boss.

6. Go ice skating at the South Haven Ice Rink

This has the makings of an annual family tradition. An afternoon of ice skating and hot chocolate should be on everyone's pre-Christmas list, no? If you don't want to lace up any skates, claim the job of digital documenter or hot chocolate fetcher. The rink opens November 23.

7. Watch a Christmas movie.

It doesn't get any more basic than this. Put the Grinch on the tube, sit back with some popcorn and feel your not quite merry heart grow three sizes in just half an hour.

8. Organize a cookie exchange.

You can coordinate with family, friends, a local moms' group, your kid's classmates' parents, whomever. Just remember that with very little effort you can have a delicious beautiful stash of homemade cookies to hide from the kids.

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