Deck the Holidays: How Chicagoans Are Creating the Season

With the holiday season comes a bounty of things to celebrate: good will, love, merriment, peace, not to mention festivities associated with major holidays such as Hanukkah, Kwanza, Christmas and New Year’s. Whether we’re decorating a tree, singing winter songs, or sharing some homemade cheer, we make the holidays happen through the things we create.

In a city of many tidings, here are some ways Chicagoans are making merry this season:

katherinesweetsGetting creative in the kitchen

“In my family, food is an important aspect of the season, but especially because it’s a time we eat to experiment and try new things, be as crazy as we can with it, and enjoy a great time over wonderful treats and snacks. From typical dishes to desserts and alcoholic drinks, we experiment and try new things each season. We decorate them to the max, with sprinkles, cherries and garnishes.  No year is the same when we all try something new and create a little new excitement with holiday cheer.”

Katherine, architect, 22

marielmusicFinding inspiration in winter feelings

“[As a musician], I tend to feel pretty creatively stifled during winter, so creating sometimes becomes a struggle. I have to remind myself that my inspiration can come from the smallest moments, which include the recent feeling of living inside a snow globe.”

Mariel, musician and teacher,  22

Crafting thoughtful gifts

For me, creativity [during the holidays] comes in the form of thoughtful and creative gift giving. Whether it be crafting something that a friend has always needed or going back to a store to buy a gift for someone after they say they wished they had bought it, I love finding or making the perfect gift for everyone special in my life.”

Jared, singer, 26

Decking the halls in a festive hat and sweatergeorgehat

“I love getting into the spirit of Christmas the weekend right after Thanksgiving. On Sunday, it’s getting all of the Christmas boxes out of the crawl space and putting on my Christmas hat and sweater and start decorating the house.”

George, 60 (“but acts like a 16 year old”)




Paying attention to the stories of others

“As an editorial assistant for Ebony magazine, I try to especially be creative during the holiday season while writing. It’s easy for readers to gloss over stories during the holidays so I try to be as creative and find stories worth telling that make people want to read more. I find my writing inspiration for stories from conversations with friends to overhearing people on my way to work.

Teryn, fashion writer, 22

Commemorating life’s special milestones

“I get a new ornament each year that represents a big life change that year. If you look around our tree, you’ll find “2012—Our First Christmas together”, “2013—we’re engaged!”, “2014—First Christmas as Mr. and Mrs.”, and for 2015, I filled a big glass ornament with our daughter’s hospital hat and hospital bracelet to commemorate her birth. This year, our ornament is three snowmen that say “Mom”, “Dad”, “Noelle” [our daughter] and there is an arrow on the mom’s belly that says “baby” [who is on the way!]. It’s fun to look at these each holiday season and see all the changes that have happened in our lives!”

Jennifer, lawyer, 33

Adding some holiday spice

“I love the holidays because they give me a reason to cook things for friends. Most recently, I’ve been messing around with Creme brûlée recipes by adding holiday spices to the cream. Once I make a recipe I’m happy with, I’m going to make a large batch to give out to friends and coworkers around Christmas.”

Christian, barista,  22

debbievillage1Lighting the atmosphere 

“Every year I enjoy putting up the Christmas village display. What started as a few porcelain houses on the buffet table quickly grew to several areas in the house. When our children were young, they enjoyed helping set it up and couldn’t wait until we turned out the lights and turned on the village lights! When my mom was alive, she always helped put it away, which for some strange reason she enjoyed doing—she liked to reflect as she returned the houses and figures to the boxes until the next year. The children are grown now and my mom is gone, but the memories stay and so does the village!”

Debbie, director of talent, 62

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Do you have a special way to create  your holiday season? Send us your stories along with a photo and we’ll post it. Please leave a comment here or send your stories to

Stephanie Lenchard Warren
Stephanie Lenchard Warren

Stephanie Lenchard Warren is a visual artist and nonfiction writer. Her work explores finding ourselves in nature as well as the nature in ourselves.

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