Christmas is a commercial behemoth. We’re conditioned to believe that the perfect holiday celebration is achieved through the perfect present or the perfect dinner. We place stress on ourselves to spend in order to please those around us, when in reality, the memories we create are the things that bring true joy, togetherness, and happiness. So what can you do to bring your family seasonal happiness without focusing on the materialistic side of the holidays?
Spending Time Together
Togetherness is the goal for your family. Time together is precious; as the years go by, the kids grow up, and extended family members will come and go. It’s important to make the most of your time together. If you have an ailing relative, a family get together can be a wonderful part of their end of life plan. It allows everyone to make the most of the time remaining.
If your family has beloved traditions, make sure to incorporate them. If your family has undergone changes in the past year, perhaps create new family traditions that better suit all of you. Play games, put together puzzles, make art, or bake treats — the important thing is to incorporate the things that your family members like to do. Make sure everyone is represented and included. Plan together, so everyone can suggest things to do and everyone will have fun.
Storytelling is a powerful tool for bonding. It’s why the film industry is recession-proof; even in lean times, we look for entertainment, for a chance to laugh or be moved. Whether your preferred method of storytelling is going to the movies or watching holiday specials on TV together, the important thing is that you do it as a family. Luckily, the holidays means tons of seasonal stories. You can tell your kids the story of Santa while gathered around the fire, or you can take them to see The Nutcracker. It’s up to you whether you want to go as big as a theatrical production or concert, or if you like the smaller, more intimate hangouts. Add in a good story, though, and it’s something your family is sure to remember.
One of the centerpieces of the holidays is food. Whether you’re making treats to take to work or give to friends and family, or you’re whipping up a giant holiday meal so everyone can eat together, food is everywhere. Keep kitchen time from stressing you out and make it into a collaborative event with your family. Making cookies can be a great time for kids. Older kids can learn practical skills, and maybe even some of those secret family recipes that get passed down from generation to generation. Make the big extended family dinner competitive fun by turning it into a contest or a bake off. Include a prize — maybe a trophy that gets passed from winner to winner every year. Have family members who are picky eaters, or have specific dietary needs? Maybe they don’t want to toss out the diet over the holidays, or are concerned with their gut health? Make sure everyone has something to eat, so that meals are inclusive for everyone. After all, the point is for everyone to be happy, healthy, and together.
One of the best experiences you can give your family is travel. Travel broadens horizons, shows us wonders, and gifts us unique and irreplaceable memories. Replace the Christmas morning present glut with an experience your family will love. Whether you’re going to Europe or Disney World, make sure it’s somewhere that captures everyone’s interest. Talk out your plans with the family and make sure everyone has a say is what you do while on vacation, so that everyone is represented. Think of each stop like a gift to your family members. Maybe only one person likes museums, but it will be a present they won’t forget, and a memory they can treasure for the rest of their life.