Skout Out Your Own Friendly Holiday Traditions

December is often viewed as a bustling, happy, family-oriented time. For Skouters who, for myriad reasons, don’t have families – or just don’t want to be around relatives too much – the winter holidays can feel lonely and isolating. But Skout is here to tell you: Reclaim the season! Friends are family you choose for yourself, and this month, why not meet new people and create new traditions?

Because Skout is a geo-location app, you can tap Meet People or post on Buzz to find people nearby who want to experience Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s Eve with new friends. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Holiday light viewing. Most towns have a block or two where all the inhabitants decorate their houses to the 9s. It’s nice to escape shopping madness and just take a slow stroll amid all the sparkling lights. Bring along a Thermos of hot cocoa or cider to share!

Ugly-sweater parties. Going to parties can be stressful if you’re the type of person who worries about what you’re going to wear. Fortunately, ugly-sweater parties put everyone on the same level of terrible fashion sense. And while you’re at the thrift store, you can do some white-elephant shopping, too!

When friends gather to bake cookies, you have to taste-test them all!

Bake cookies. Is there anything better than the scent of freshly baked cookies? Invite friends over and suggest everyone bake a different type of cookie – look up recipes in case anyone needs inspiration. This is a great time to recycle all those tins you’ve acquired – line them with festive paper, fill them with a variety of cookies, and hand them out as gifts! Which brings us to …

Handmade gifts are more personal – and more fun – when you make them with friends!

Make gifts. Tis better to give than to receive, but not everyone has a bottomless wallet. So scan Pinterest and blogs for DIY gifts, such as scented lotions, hot cocoa kits and upcycled mint tins. Then host a “crafternoon,” in which friends gather to make gifts. It’s a great way to escape the malls and save money. And by making presents with a group, you can exchange tips and ideas, as well.

Volunteer. Make the holidays more about “presence” than “presents” by volunteering for a local charity. Enlist friends and find a soup kitchen, shelter or food bank that needs assistance. Who knows – your group of friends may be inspired to volunteer regularly throughout the New Year! If you’re pressed for time, remember that giving back to your community can be as simple as donating to less-fortunate people.