Christmas was never my favorite holiday, but it was certainly one that I enjoyed. I actually love to give gifts, but not for the sake of gift giving. I enjoy the search and the creativity of garnering meaningful gifts and the look of surprise, appreciation, even tears when the recipient opens it. But over the years… something changed. Slowly, but surely Christmas became less about the joy of giving, family, friends, and winter wonderlands, and instead turned into a less meaningful corporate cash grab and social media showdowns over “whose kids got what latest toy that would be broken and forgotten in three months.”
I remember the moment when I had truly had it with Christmas. It was about 3-4 years ago when a big box retailer decided that they were going to open their doors ON THANKSGIVING. I will admit that once upon a time, I was guilty of poring over sales papers soon after Thanksgiving dinner, strategizing with my mother and sister about which Black Friday sales we were going to hit, who was going to be the designated placeholder in line and how we would maximize our time and money. You would have thought we were auditioning to be contestants on Supermarket Sweep. Nonetheless, it was still family time…time to enjoy the last vestiges of Thanksgiving before getting swept up in the chaos of Christmas.
But once that retailer opened its doors on Thanksgiving, it set off a chain reaction of one after another encroaching on our day of thanks. Halloween has barely ended before the commercialism of Christmas completely drowns out even a cursory acknowledgment of the holiday that focuses on gratitude and appreciation for what we already have.
As I enter my third year of not bothering to put up, let alone decorate the Christmas tree, I feel compelled to offer some alternatives for people who, like me, once enjoyed the magic of the season, but have become ba-humbugged and bummed out about the corporate cloud of greed hovering over the Christmas Holiday. Here are 10 alternatives for celebrating Christmas without succumbing to the call of the cash register:
- Serve the Needy
Not everyone has a roof, a warm bed and a hot meal to enjoy on Christmas. Grab your loved ones and head out to your local Food Pantry or Soup Kitchen and serve Christmas Cheer to those less fortunate
2. Adopt a Family
Does your child REALLY need a another video game? American Girl isn’t the only 18” doll on the market. Redistribute the cash and adopt a family in need for the holidays. You can buy gifts on their wish list, supply their groceries, or alleviate the anxiety of the holidays by inviting them over for dinner and recreation.
3. Christmas Karaoke
“Hang all the mistletoe; I wanna get to know you better…” Choose your favorite holiday snacks and drinks and invite your friends over for some off-key Christmas caroling.
4. Holiday Movie Marathon
There isn’t ONE season that goes by where I don’t look forward to A Charlie Brown Christmas. Make a list of your family’s favorite holiday movies, pop some popcorn, grab the blankets and snuggle up for a movie marathon. A couple of years ago, my daughter and I discovered The Mistletones with Tia Mowry and LOVED IT! If you prefer to head out for a show, I highly recommend Almost Christmas… It was hilarious!
5. Ugly Sweater Party
Who among us hasn’t seen a co-worker wearing some cockamamie Christmas concoction replete with antlers, snowballs, and bulbs that ACTUALLY light up? Dial up the ugly and get ready for a fun night of selfie-taking and memory making.
6. Paint & Sip
While the kids are playing with their new gadgets and gizmos, pull out the Sauvignon Blanc and your stash of canvases, brushes, and paints and host a Holiday Themed paint and sip party. Laugh, drink, snack, and show off your new artwork to your friends on social media.
7. Give the Gift of Time
If you’re prone to living life on the go, take a week off for the holiday and spend time helping your loved ones prepare for dinner and guests. Scour your local Groupon and Living Social Deals for Holiday Lights exhibits, Christmas plays and Family Friendly outings.
8. Head Outdoors
“…Come on it’s lovely weather for a Sleigh Ride together with you.” Plan a day of sledding, skiing, or ice skating with the family. Finish the day with a Hot Cocoa Bar with all the fixings for a decadent cup of chocolate.
9. Go on Vacay
Trade your snow for sand or warmer weather by packing up and heading out of town. Spend Christmas soaking up sun rays, playing a family friendly game of football or enjoying shops in restaurants in a small town away from home.
10. Cater & Catch Up
As much as we might love and appreciate a home cooked meal, not everyone has the energy to spend three days in the kitchen slaving over “beans, greens, potatoes, tomatoes, chicken, turkey, ham, lamb…” – Release yourself from the guilt and the pressure and order in. Plenty of soul food restaurants offer traditional holiday fare. Cater and use the extra time to catch up with family and friends.