Three Ways to Think Outside the Box This Christmas

Do you get overwhelmed driving from store to store to find the most popular gifts for your loved ones during the Christmas season? Has hosting that big dinner every year become even more overwhelming than it used to be? If you answered “yes” to either of these questions, please keep reading to learn about a few ways you can think out of the box this Christmas and help your family celebrate the holiday without you–or your bank account–getting exhausted. (If you answered “no” to the above questions, I still hope you’ll keep reading. The ideas may help you discover a new tradition your family will want to adopt this year.)

I get really excited when the time comes for me to give my children presents. Whether I’m giving them gifts for Christmas, Easter or their birthdays, I find great joy in presenting them with something they need or have been wanting to have. However, I’m also the kind of person who likes to come up with creative, non-traditional gifts that don’t have to be hidden inside a box covered in wrapping paper that I spent way too much on. And, I believe the latter goes a long way toward raising children who understand that the holidays–and life in general–is much more fulfilling when we focus less on acquiring “the next big thing” and spend more time on cultivating the friendships and personal interests that will be with us long after our fancy gadgets have stopped working.

Give An Experience

My girls enjoy spending time with their peers, so I planned and hosted an ornament-making party for them, their cousins, and friends several times when they were in grammar- and middle school. I’d order ornament kits from an online party store or purchase items at a local craft store and invite the classmates’ moms to join me in preparing a snack or treat to share. We’d play Christmas music while assembling our little ornaments and sometimes even play games or listen to a Christmas story when we’d finished making the ornaments. It was a fun and simple way to give them the experience of a special holiday-themed party, without me having to put in the work to prepare a big meal and oversee a bunch of activities.

You could host an event like this in your own home or perhaps even rent a room at a local library. We’ve done both to switch up things a bit and keep the event fresh and fun for everyone involved. Much to my delight, years later, I still receive comments from the mothers of some of the girls invited to those parties revealing that their daughters still have the ornaments made at our parties. And, my girls still look forward to hanging their colorful, bedazzled, memory-infused creations on our tree every year.

Gift Hotel and Airline Points

One gift you don’t have to drive to a mall to find is the gift of hotel or airline points. I once surprised one of my nieces with a surprise birthday celebration that included an overnight stay in a hotel with her mom and siblings thanks to hotel rewards points I’d accumulated. While I arranged this special surprise in honor of her birthday, the same thing could be done as a Christmas gift for someone you care about. The idea came to mind after hearing that my sister hadn’t yet had a chance to plan a celebration for my niece. So, I first checked with my sister to make sure they didn’t have other plans the weekend of my niece’s birthday and, after confirming they were available–and that my sister liked my idea–I booked the hotel room.

Since I had put my name along with my sister’s on the room reservation–which included breakfast the following morning for all of them–I was allowed to enter the room upon arrival and decorate it before my sister and niece arrived. Our mom also joined in on the fun and ordered and delivered to the hotel a yummy chicken and pasta dinner for all of us to enjoy together. My sister came up with some creative way to get my niece there–I honestly don’t remember right now what she told her. But, I do remember that we all had a good time and capped off our evening together by enjoying the chocolate and vanilla cupcakes that I’d had decorated in my niece’s favorite colors.

So, if you’re a loyalty program member for a major hotel chain or airline, check to see if you can share some of your points with a loved one. Some programs will also let you redeem points for gift cards that could be given as gifts.

Create Personalized Gift Baskets

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I can’t remember the last time I bought the girls a manufactured or pre-made gift basket. I’ve found great pleasure over the years in creating home-made gift baskets for Easter that are filled with my girls favorite chocolate candy, small gifts, and other items that I thought they would like to receive. And, since I’ve typically been able to get everything I needed for the baskets at one or two stores, I’ve been able to avoid having to drive from store to store to get what I wanted for this type of gift. And, we can do the same thing for our children for Christmas.

If you’re not sure where to start with regard to what to put into the basket, consider carefully the things that make your child the unique person they are right now: their age, year in school, extra-curricular activities, hobbies, future goals, etc. Then, make a list of several items that point to some of those things. For example, if your son is in the school band, he might like to receive personalized, music-themed gifts in his basket. If your daughter likes to draw or paint, she might get excited upon noticing that specialty pencils, brushes or paint sets were put into hers. Or, if they’ve been wanting to take lessons of any kind–dance, voice, piano, etc.–you could surprise them with a gift certificate from their new studio into their basket along with a decorative duffle bag and accessories they could use once they start their lessons. Other items that could enhance their baskets are t-shirts, pajamas, DVDs, devotional books, jewelry, or any other gift that would fit into a basket and all of those could be purchased on Amazon from the comfort of your home. Finally, if you have enough time and money to secure tickets to a concert or musical, you could tuck those into the baskets, as well. Speaking of the baskets, you should be able to find them, basket filler (e.g., brightly-colored gift tissue or crinkle-cut paper), and basket wrap at a “dollar” stores. If you can’t find what you need there, check the nearest party store.

Regardless of the direction you take this December when striving to come up with fun and different ways to celebrate the holiday, do yourself a favor and avoid letting the expectations of family members or friends–or the frantic pace of fellow shoppers–take the joy out of your world.

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