17 Ideas for a More Meaningful Holiday Season
- Make a plan before the holidays overtake you, and stick with it. Discuss and decide with your spouse/family/roommate, or make a written list of your plans to guide you when the days get busy.
- Give anonymously. Each year our family chooses a person or a family with a special need that year (unemployment, broken heater, etc.) and we have fun finding a sneaky way to buy and deliver to them a needed gift.
- Choose this year to decorate a little less. Clean out your decorations and deliver the still usable ones to a local charity. The very process of thinking through what you don’t really need feels good and helps strengthen your priority to simplify and focus on what counts.
- Give socially-conscious gifts that give back. Of course we love the Nozomi Project, knowing that all proceeds go to help the artisans and the community in the region where the 2011 tsunami struck. The theme of hope and beauty in brokenness makes for meaningful gifts (photo below). Other items from social enterprises we think are great: Trades of Hope offers great trivets and leather world map journals; table runners and flannel/kimono infinity scarves (Megumi Project); awesome leather satchels (Redemption Market); soup and cornbread mixes (womensbeanproject.com).
- Make homemade gifts! For adult projects we like these ideas: for your kids try some of these. Our personal family favorite annual gift is homemade candied pecans. We buy 18 pounds of pecans at a large warehouse store, and spend several evenings making these as a family and then giving them to neighbors, teachers, and friends. Really – these have become more popular than any store-bought gifts we might give!
- Start a gifts-we-already-have-list (annvoskamp.com). Tape up a big piece of paper on a wall or door and throughout the season have members of your family write down the many blessings you are already thankful for this year.
- Who doesn’t love receiving a gift card? Surprise your family, friends, or coworkers with a gift card from one of these meaningful online shops: Raven & Lily; Ten Thousand Villages; Nozomi Project. (Did you know you can buy, sell, and exchange gift cards here?)
- Friends of mine made up rules for living for one year, and carried them out through Christmas: buying only items that were local, used, homegrown or homemade. Choose any of these ideas for gift-giving and find joy in your choices. (See Craig Goodwin, Year of Plenty).
- Choose to help a child this season: become a monthly sponsor of a child, or send a financial or wrapped gift to a child in need. (Our family has personally been involved with Watoto orphans in Uganda; Compassion has children in need all over the world).
- No time to put together an Advent calendar of gifts for your family? Make a simple Advent wreath for your table and use this for a weekly gathering time to read the Christmas story together over four weeks as a family.
- Think about giving life enriching experiences. A membership to an arboretum or museum; ballroom dance classes; Rosetta stone language lessons; dates with your kids; gift certificates to audiobooks.com; concert tickets.
- Get a group of friends together and change up your normal holiday party plans: meet at a senior center to go caroling, with each person bringing a wrapped gift of socks and a new Reader’s Digest; then go back to someone’s home for eggnog and dessert.
- Choose a wonderful holiday story and carve out twenty minutes before bedtime each night to gather together and read the story. A few favorites: Little Women (Louisa May Alcott), The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (C.S. Lewis); The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (Barbara Robinson); The Gift of the Magi (O. Henry); A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens).
- For setting perameters on gift-giving within your own family, we really like these guidelines: something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read. For this last category, last year I found a book list with themes of kindness that I used to buy books for our four children.
- When we pull out our stockings, we read our letters to Jesus that we wrote back in January, as we were taking down the holiday decorations. These are letter/prayers we each write individually, beginning the year by asking Jesus to help us with a particular struggle or weakness. Even our youngest takes this seriously; it’s a great way to start the year dependent on Jesus and end it by celebrating growth.
- Give goats for Christmas! We decided with one group that we always exchanged gifts with, to instead pool our money each Christmas and come together and shop from catalogs – choosing to buy things like goats for a family in Africa; or mosquito nets for a village in the Philippines. Our kids AND the adults have loved the chance to not focus on us but give to those who really do need gifts like this. A few options we have used: World Vision Catalog; Compassion Catalog; Samaritan’s Purse Catalog.
- Finally, please don’t try and do all of these things! Choose a few, live more simply, and make some new meaningful and wonderful memories this Christmas. What are YOUR favorite meaningful holiday traditions!
Comments on this post (4)
Wonderful ideas! Thank you!
— Diane Bond
Great newsletter and very interesting! Thanks so much for sending!
— Diane Kepus
great ideas to share joyce
— joyce dale dodd harcharik
Thank you so much for including Redemption Market on your list! We are just a small organization gaining traction, so it’s a huge blessing to be included. Thanks, Rhonda (founder RM)
— Rhonda LaBatt