The holiday season has, in many ways, become bogged down with the hustle and bustle of to-do lists, shopping sprees, tight schedules, and gatherings of all kinds for all reasons. ‘Tis the season to be jolly and draw close to those you love in your family, your friend groups, and your community, but it can be hard to be jolly with the added stress of financial constraints, weekly itineraries, and expectations of gift giving.
Instead of focusing on presents this year, why not consider focusing on presence with those we love? Instead of carrying stress like a badge of honor, let’s shift our priorities to carrying each other through relationship building, extensions of gratitude, and contributions to community. And, instead of wrestling with our bank accounts to purchase expensive gifts this season, let’s wrestle with our minds to think creatively about how our gifts can reflect meaning and care.
Check out this list of five traditions you can start this season.
Chop Down Your Own Tree
Plan a family trip to a local Christmas tree farm and experience the natural therapy of the great outdoors by chopping down your own tree. Explore the landscape with your loved ones and choose together the tree to welcome into your home this season. Not only does this offer a fun adventure for the family, but since tree farms are often located in more rural, remote areas, it also separates the experience of selecting a Christmas tree from the expectation of shopping.
Create a Gratitude Wall
Interpretations of the holiday season often focus heavily on what we can purchase for others instead of what we can do for others. In lieu of a Christmas List, reserve space on a primary wall in your house to decorate with garlands and ribbons as you prepare for a Gratitude Wall. With a Christmas List, you’d normally jot down a list of things you want to receive from others but a Gratitude Wall allows you to post a series of things you’d like to do for others this season. Grab some markets and post-it notes and, in a grid, stick your ideas on the wall. Some of our fave ideas include surprising a friend with hot chocolate, donating to a local shelter, sending a thank you card to a colleague, and cooking a friend’s favorite meal for dinner from scratch.
Plan Next Year’s Giving Calendar
It’s no surprise to anyone that the holiday season is full of events and gatherings of all kinds, be it family get-togethers or work parties. In addition to filling your holiday calendar, schedule an evening with your family to prepare next year’s giving calendar. Each month, select a theme (like gratitude or kindness) or a local nonprofit (perhaps a local community pantry or housing agency) to plan around. For example, if February’s theme is love, decide as a family how you’d like that theme to come to life. Or, if you choose a local nonprofit, select a day to volunteer together to support the nonprofit you chose.
Host a Friendsmaking Dinner Party
Do you have acquaintances you want to turn into friends? Or colleague you get along with and want to get to know better? How about a neighbor you say hello to on the street but never really have a conversation with? Make it an annual tradition to gather together your acquaintances for a Friendsmaking Dinner Party! This potluck version of a dinner party doesn’t have to break the bank; if your dining table can squeeze 10 people around it, invite just enough to fill it! Personally reach out to folks you haven’t had the chance to get to know yet, and build new relationships with those around you as you enter into a brand new year. All of our best friends start out as strangers anyway, right?
Theme Your Gift Giving
When purchasing presents for loved ones this season, it can be easy to purchase items simply because they’re on sale or to just check their name off your list. This season, why not theme your gift giving? A simple rule to help out is to give gifts in one of four categories: something they want, someone they need, something to wear, and something to read. Whether your gifts are handmade or store-bought, your friends and family will be sure to love them!