Christmas Celebrations to Cherish

DCP_2046 Annual humorous Grinch decoration  For the love of Christmas!  I have always loved Christmas… the decorations, candlelight services, fresh baked aromas, music, parties, family gatherings, sharing.  But with no small children in the home any longer, the need for all the presents under the tree escapes me.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love finding perfect presents, wrapping and decorating packages, and giving gifts.


Regardless, I find myself loving the Thanksgiving ease and lack of pressure or expense.  In the next moment, I recognize that the spirit of giving, so central to our Christmas traditions, can be perhaps far better celebrated without all the shopping and gift unwrapping chaos.


I remember annually pondering, “Who else do I need to buy a gift for?”  Or, “Have I missed anyone on the list?”  Now I think, “There must be a multitude of great ways to share Christmas spirit without blowing the budget.  If folks want to give gifts to certain people, they can and should.  But let that be personal, rather than “the” party.

DSC00002 Christmas Fireplace

What if:

  • Sharing is Caring – Everyone comes to a party ready to share a favorite holiday memory, or poem, picture, story, or song.  With or without a bonfire, this is bound to be filled with laughter.
  • Yankee Swap – Guests bring just one gift, generically wrapped and valued at not more than a pre-set amount.  Everyone draws numbers.  Then, #1 selects a package and opens it.  #2 then either selects an unopened package OR can opt for the item #1 opened.  #3 and all numbers after, sequentially then select either an unopened package or opt for any item previously opened.  Once you’ve been through all the numbers, #1 gets to keep their current item or swap for anything else.  Everyone comes with one gift and leaves with one gift… and lots of happy new memories.
  •  Homemade Memories – Whatever you give as a gift to anyone must have been made by you.  Simple.  Heartfelt.  Meaningful.  No, you do not have to be an artist or seamstress or cook.  Consider the plethora of coupons you could create and give.  Sharing your time with someone is the most precious gift possible.  A coupon could be for washing and detailing their car or taking them to the movies, including the popcorn.  You get the idea.
  • Caroling Capers – No gifts to or from anyone at the party.  Instead, everyone takes Christmas Carol songbooks and candles in hand.  The group goes door-to-door singing.  This could be in your neighborhood or at a local nursing home or senior center.  If you want to give gifts, take cookies or wreaths to leave at our caroling stops.
  • Travel Time – Christmas in Cancun sounds lovely, and if you can afford it, let the whole family ring in the holiday together at a lovely destination.  Or you can celebrate anywhere.  Everyone shares a tale or tradition from a favorite place they’ve visited or a place they’d like to visit.  Another twist is to pre-select a culture and announce it well in advance of Christmas.  Then everyone comes to the part ready to celebrate in that culture’s traditional manner.  Naturally, your menu will reflect the same!
  • Secret Santa – At some earlier time in the year, say a summer BBQ or birthday celebration, all family members who will be celebrating Christmas together draw names.  That name is the one person form whom you will wrap a gift.  Nobody tells whose name they drew.  The recipients need to try and guess who their Secret Santa was.  Set a price maximum.  You can also try other “field leveling” techniques such as giving everyone the same festive Christmas bags into which their gift must fit.  Then even the wrappings won’t give away any particular Secret Santa’s identify.
  • Theme Party – Set a theme for gifts each year.  One year it might be music.  Another year it could be some food or food group.  Or select one color, and all gifts must reflect that color.  Be creative.  Set a theme or approach that nicely fits your family and friends.  Keep it light-hearted and fun.  Focus on sharing with each other and serving up foods that especially please your guests.

DCP_2050 Christmas Brunch

Whatever you do, take the focus off having a plethora of gifts under the tree.  Put the focus on everyone sharing an abundance of laughter and love.  Less pressure.  Less expense.  More fun.  More memories.  Merry Christmas… as easy as 1-2-3… with love and laughter.

About Cathy Burnham Martin

Author of 20+ books, and counting! A professional voice-over artist, dedicated foodie, and lifelong corporate communications geek, Cathy Burnham Martin has enjoyed a highly eclectic career, ranging from the arts and journalism to finance, telecommunications, and publishing. Along with her husband, Ron Martin, she has passions for entertaining, gardening, volunteering, active and visual arts, GREAT food, and traveling. Cathy often says, "I believe that we all should live with as much contagious enthusiasm as possible... Whether we're with friends or family, taking people along for the ride is more than half the fun."
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Thank you for sharing your thoughts!