As Christmas approaches, some eagerly anticipate celebrating in the same way they always have. Others are ready to shake things up a bit and do something a little different.
The thought of buying presents for all of their children and grandchildren overwhelmed Terri and Bill, especially when nobody really needed anything. After several conversations about what to do, they finally decided to give their family a special gift of time and togetherness. They started planning mystery destination trips.
When the time came, they told their family what kind of clothes to pack. Then on the morning of departure, everybody learned where they were headed together. Sometimes they took a trip to the mountains for a weekend, and other years they did something more elaborate. These experiences helped create memories that will last far longer than many of the gifts they had given in the past.
If you're ready to add some variety to your festivities, here are some things you might try:
Expand your knowledge and your palate. Some families like to learn how other cultures celebrate the holidays. Consider letting your children choose a country and create your Christmas celebration around those customs and traditions. You can even change up your usual dinner menu to include traditional dishes from that country. As a bonus, you might even get extra help from the kids in the kitchen.
Play games. How about starting a tradition of giving your family a new game that everybody plays for the first time at your Christmas gathering? Speak Out, Heads Up!, Apples to Apples, Family Feud and Catch Phrase are likely to create lively conversations without the drama.
Go offline. Maybe you could ditch the technology and ask everybody to come prepared to share a talent or a hobby as you gather together.
Be more active. Resurrect the annual family football game. There’s nothing like some healthy competition to work off the big meal and make room for the next. If you can’t do football, sack races, three-legged relays, a scavenger hunt or a hike will fill the bill!
Share family history. Many younger family members don’t know much about their family history, and the holidays are a great time to learn about it. Try having your guests bring a baby picture, then shuffle them up and guess who belongs with each photo. As you connect the pictures to each family member, that person can share a little-known fact about their family history.
Create together. Have a gingerbread house building competition. Purchase kits, but have some additional candies and supplies on hand. Divide up into teams and set a time limit for the creations. Then, designate a judge and let the fun begin!
Treat yourself (and someone else). If you don’t enjoy cooking the Christmas meal, eat out for a change! When going out though, remember that employees are working on a holiday instead of being with their own families. You might even show extra Christmas spirit and bless the wait staff with a large tip.
Finally, as you make plans, don’t forget those who work on Christmas Day. Some people are alone for the holidays, too. If you don’t celebrate with family, consider taking homemade breakfast or Christmas dinner to first responders. You might even take food to a hospital waiting room or to someone who can’t leave their home. Or, you can really brighten someone's day by inviting them to celebrate with you, especially if you know they are lonely.
Have a wonderful holiday season!