The holiday season doesn't have to be all about physical gifts. There are countless reasons why getting away from that materialistic model is a great idea. Not only is it better from a financial perspective, but it's also less damaging to the environment and refocuses a family's attention on what really matters, like spending time together. Here are some alternative ideas for how to celebrate the holidays this year.
Photo Credit: FutUndBeidl
Remember that the holidays are a very tough time for many people in need. Take your family to spend Christmas Day (or any day) at a local soup kitchen, helping to serve food in your community. Talk to your kids about this ahead of time, but you could also donate presents or money to a local charity in lieu of buying gifts for each other.
Arrange an outdoor activity for everyone in the family to do together, and you’ll create a memory that will last far longer than that of actual gifts, i.e. a day spent skiing on the slopes, a visit to a Scandinavian-style outdoor spa, a night of outdoor camping, dog sledding, etc. I’ll never forget the Christmas Day that my mother arranged for a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the snowy forest, complete with a campfire and hot chocolate midway. (Don’t forget to check out Home for the Holidays in Swarthmore!)
BUILD A SKILL
Rather than buying stuff, why not buy lessons for your kids or partner? Expose them to an activity that interests them and that they haven’t had the chance to try yet. Swimming, painting, guitar lessons, pottery-making, cooking, skating, cross-country skiing, sailing, yoga – the sky’s the limit. Or sign up as a family to do those activities throughout the course of the year.
INVITE PEOPLE OVER
Entertaining and hanging out with friends and family is a big part of what makes the holidays fun. Whether you host a big holiday meal or a wine-and-cheese open house, get the whole family involved. Have a board game night, host a dance, go on a long hike, go tobogganing as a big group if you live where there’s snow, or host a casual jam session for musician friends. If you have kids, show them how fun it is to throw a good party.
GIVE EDIBLE GIFTS
The gift of food is fairly close to zero waste and always appreciated. It’s a great opportunity to get your kids into the kitchen and to try making unusual things, i.e. candied orange peel, roasted nut mixes, homemade marshmallows, apple butter, pickled vegetables, caramel popcorn, jars of granola, chocolate bark, etc.
Tickets to a live event are something that everyone can appreciate, whether you’re a sports fan or a music lover. Live performances can inspire children in ways you can’t imagine. Buy tickets to see a ballet (perhaps the Nutcracker at this time of year), an orchestra, or a rousing musical. See if the jaw-dropping Cirque du Soleil is performing anywhere nearby, or check out local theatre productions. Look around for a children’s entertainer. You never know what you’ll find once you start looking. Or, take it a step further and plan a family vacation using money that otherwise would have been spent on gifts.