The first feeling is that it is my job to make Christmas special for my family. I am the mother after all. I owe it to my children to create this magical wonderland that every movie and Norman Rockwell painting has ever said Christmas should be. And how do I accomplish this? By driving my self crazy! By waking up at the crack of dawn on Black Friday to race all over town and spend money I don't have to buy the perfect gift that will light up my child's face on Christmas morning and then watch it get broken in two months or get shoved under the bed or left out in the yard and forgotten.
The second feeling is that this is Christmas, a time of year we set aside to remember the gift that was Jesus. The little baby who was born in a stable. The little baby who grew in to the man who told us to lay down all that we have and follow Him.
And these two conflicting extremes battle it out in my head every Christmas! How do I teach my children the meaning of Christmas if I'm giving in to this over commercialized zoo of a Holiday that advertisers have somehow gotten us all to accept?
A few months ago on a Wednesday evening several members of my church's congregation gathered to watch The Story of Stuff. It really opened my eyes to how much we as Americans spend on stuff we don't need, and why we feel compelled to keep doing it. If you have some time I would encourage you to watch the video bellow. It really is a good wake up call we could all use this holiday season. Then you can see my list of 25 ways you can celebrate Christmas with out the excess that typically goes along with it.
So how can we celebrate this holiday in a way that keeps us focused on the true meaning and still be fun and special for the family? Try these tips bellow.
Dec. 1- Pandora Radio
Use this free internet radio to find your perfect Christmas Station, whether that station plays traditional Christmas hymns, or country Christmas carols, chances are you will find a Christmas station just right for you and your family. Have each member of the family decide what their favorite Christmas song is.
Dec. 2.- Give Christmas Gift Exemption Vouchers, inviting loved ones to spend time with you instead of money on you... time one-to-one or at a Christmas or Epiphany get-together. (see Alternatives for Simple Living)
Dec. 3- When thinking about Christmas gifts for your kids, consider making hand made gifts. Counting Coconuts did a totally hand made Christmas. Check it out here If that seems over whelming think about where you buy your toys. Try buying from local businesses or see if you can buy second hand. Reusing items will keep them from ending up in a land fill.
Dec. 4- This is the second Sunday of Advent. Light a candle and read Luke 1:26-38
Dec.5 - Use coffee filters to make snowflake Christmas ornaments. Coffee filters are great for cutting fine little shapes and make for great snowflakes. Go on line and read about Snowflake Bently and look at his amazing photos.
Dec.6-This is St. Nicholas Day. Take a trip to your library and see if you can find any books to learn more about him.
Dec.7- Consider setting a limit on how many gifts you will give each person. One family told me their children get three gifts to signify the three gifts presented to the Christ child by the Magi.
Dec. 8- Decorate the outside of your home using items you already have or items you can make. Look around you. What could you do with the items in your recycling bin? Check out these window decorations from Frugal Family Fun.
Dec. 9- Write a letter to a family member who lives far away. Let your kids draw them pictures and dictate notes that you can write down.
Dec. 10-Try not to let your child watch too much TV. Advertisements go WAY up during the holidays. You will have less of the "Gimme Gimmes" if they aren't seeing adds every 10 minutes.
Dec. 11- This is the 3rd Sunday of Advent. Today we can focus on the Joy that Jesus brings to our lives by his birth. Jesus was a gift to us. One of the gifts Jesus gave us was the gift of his parables. Read one of Jesus's parables to your child.
Dec. 12- Visit Alternative Gifts International for ideas of ways you can honor your loved ones by giving a gift that will change the life of some one in need in a very real way.
Dec. 13- Make Caramel corn with your family using this recipe
10cups popped corn
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup butter
1/2 cups white corn syrup
combine sugar, butter, syrup and salt. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add
1t. baking soda
Stir and pour over popped corn. Stir until well coated. Bake on cookie sheets for 1 hour at 200* let cool
Dec.14- Make salt dough Christmas ornaments like these from the Imagination Tree
Dec.15- Instead of buying gifts for a friend, take them out to dinner. Share an experience rather than adding more stuff.
Dec.16- Drive around and look at Christmas lights
Dec.17-The ghost of Christmas past.
Pull out the old photo albums or gather around the computer and look at photo's from Christmas past. If you have family that lives near by, invite them over to do the same. I love looking at photos of Christmas from when my mother was a little girl, and when I showed my daughter my Christmas pictures circa 1988, I thought she would be laughing forever. (perm)
Dec.18- This is the 4th Sunday of Advent. Read about Mary's visit to Elizabeth. Luke 1:39-45, (46-55)
Dec.19- Read a Christmas book. One of our favorites is The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tommy de Paula.
Dec.20-Bake cookies for a friend. Leave them anonymously on their doorstep. Last year we became secret elves and left small, inexpensive home made gifts on the doorstep of family friends. We didn't tell them who we were but we left little notes and clues along with our gifts. Big Sis had so much fun dressing up all in black and sneaking up to houses in the middle of the night to leave our gifts.
Dec.21- Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that I need. -Proverbs 30:7-9. Donate canned food items to a food pantry. (check those expiration dates)
Dec.22- Have a Harry Potter Dinner! In the first book of the Harry Potter series Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's(Philosopher's) Stone, Christmas dinner is celebrated at Hogwarts with Wizard crackers. Each cracker explodes to reveal a fun hat. We replicated the dinner at our house by collecting lots of fun hats. We had a top hat, a cheese head hat, a cowboy hat, and a viking helmet. Every one had to wear a silly hat all through dinner.
Dec. 23- Avoid being tempted by last minute bargain prices. These are geared to get you to spend money on things you don't really need.
Dec.24- Christmas Eve, go to a candle light Christmas Eve service. Or light a candle at home and sing Silent Night with your family
Dec. 25- Christmas Day! This year Christmas will fall on a Sunday. Find a church that is having services and go celebrate Christ's birth! Or read the Christmas story( Luke 2: (1-7) 8-20) together with your family. Sing Happy Birthday to Baby Jesus. Tell each and every member of your family that you love them and that their presence in your life is the best gift of all!