Christmas is a mere three weeks away. If you haven’t been stashing extra cash for Christmas gifts before now, you’re probably on the verge of hyperventilating. Let’s be real. You’re not going to suddenly come into a fistful of money to pull off everyone’s Christmas dreams.
Which begs the question:
Why does Christmas revolve around gift giving?
Sure, it’s fun to shop for gifts, to give gifts, and to open gifts. Everyone loves gifts. But regardless of your love language, gifts do not make the holiday.
So, if money for gifts is in short supply, or if you just want to pull back from the insanity of spending the GDP of a small country on Christmas, then let’s brainstorm some alternatives. I covered baking, decorating, caroling, crafting, and reading in 7 Ways to Avoid Christmas Stress. The theme is to develop your Christmas traditions around family and the real meaning of Christmas, the birth of Christ.
Consider a more experience-based holiday. What can you do together to make memories?
One year, we spent several days glamping (like camping, but in a cabin with heat and running water). We often spend the night with friends in San Antonio and have a mini-Christmas with them. We watch Hallmark movies, drink hot chocolate (or tipsy cider for the adults), and pile in the van to look at Christmas lights. My friend is a Christmas-holic, so a trip to the North Pole wouldn’t get much Christmasier.
These aren’t expensive trips, but they’re fun and memorable. My girls still talk about the Christmas in the cabin seven years later. And they start asking when we’re going to San Antonio in September. It is the most highly anticipated weekend of the year.
Find someone who needs a blessing. How can you help?
Holidays, in general, and Christmases, in particular, are hard for many people. They miss family and friends who may live far away or who have died. Finances may be tight, and they can’t afford to buy gifts or have a special celebration. You can give to any number of charities to help, but make it personal. Find one person you can make smile. We, personally, like to play piano and sing carols at a local nursing home. You might volunteer to deliver meals to the elderly or adopt a family from church. Take a look around and see, really see, who needs a boost in holiday spirit.
Check out the local celebrations. Where can we enjoy the Christmas mood?
Every community has some sort of celebration. Parades. Tree-lighting. Craft fairs. Concerts. It shouldn’t be hard to find something to do in your neck of the woods. Also, you’ll be supporting local businesses and community groups with your participation. That makes the holidays merrier for everyone.
Decorate with purpose. Who are we celebrating?
We choose to decorate with purpose. We have a smattering of lots of different things, like snowmen and Christmas villages, but I prefer to decorate with a nativity theme. We have several nativity sets, and those are our favorite decorations to setout.
Plan your holiday carefully. Where will we spend the holidays?
Our preference is to spend time with family at holidays, and that’s more than our immediate family. Extended family (like grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins) also may plan family reunions around the holidays. I understand that many families have strained relationships. Really, there are a LOT of crazy families out there, but most things can be tolerated for a few hours one afternoon. I encourage you to consider making peace with relatives at Christmas. As the saying goes, forgiveness and grace is less about the other person. It will likely bring you the peace and joy you crave.
Really, creating your Christmas dreams is far more than gifts. How do you want to remember this year and plan accordingly.