Choose Now a Holiday of Significance ... (and Less Stress) for Your Family

During the holiday season, time is a prized commodity and the preciousness of family is (hopefully) paramount in our minds. How is it then that we get so carried away with things that are not of lasting significance? I wonder too. Are you ready to make a change? Let's tackle this now and relax sweetly into the holiday season while visions of sugarplums dance in our heads. First, take some time now to discuss with your family what you truly want out of the holiday season this year. Perhaps it is a good time to introduce or reinforce the original meaning of Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate). Maybe this is the year your family breaks the cycle of overspending and chooses a simpler holiday that involves more time with family and friends. For instance, I know one family who chooses to give three gifts to each child for Christmas representing the three wise men's gifts at the birth of Christ. The other giving that is done is to those less fortunate. The focus in this family is on the original meaning of Christmas - the celebration of the birth of Christ and enjoying time with loved ones. Another way to get more significance out of your holiday is to create and enjoy some family traditions. Do your children look forward to certain things each holiday? A few of my children's favorite holiday traditions include making a gingerbread house, baking Christmas cookies, watching Christmas movies by the fireplace and decorating our Christmas tree while drinking hot chocolate and listening to our favorite Christmas CDs. Childhood memories themselves are a precious gift to give our children. Here are some ideas in case you are looking for some new traditions to start: * Go Christmas caroling with your friends or neighbors * Roast chestnuts over an open fire * Make Reindeer food (dry corn, glitter, bird seed) and have your children scatter it on the lawn on Christmas Eve * Make Christmas ornaments to keep or give as gifts * Attend church service on Christmas Eve * Have everyone put on their favorite PJs and drive through town to view Christmas lights while singing (or listening to) your favorite Christmas songs. * Go to a Christmas play or to a live nativity scene. In addition to family traditions, here are some other ideas of holiday significance your family can try: * Adopt a needy family or elderly person to brighten their holidays. * Take cookies to a nursing home and have your children sing carols. * Sponsor a child in another country for the holidays and beyond at: * Deliver homemade goodies with a smile to the homeless or those less fortunate. * Invite single neighbors or friends to holiday activities. * Work in a soup kitchen feeding the hungry. And for gift giving, celebrate less gifts and more substance with these ideas: * Give coupons for free childcare to a couple that could use some time alone. * Give "gift certificates" for a hot meal prepared by your family. * Draw names instead of purchasing for everyone in your extended family. * Give to a charity on behalf of a family member. Check out: and * Help hungry families feed themselves at: * Make gifts with your children such as: - Frames, flowerpots, art, self-portraits, family photos and more. Visit these sites for ideas: and * Have a silly (White Elephant) gift exchange instead of buying presents. Ask everyone to bring something from home that is no longer wanted and needs a new home. (The sillier / funnier the better.) When everyone gathers, draw numbers to see who picks a gift first. Follow in order until everyone has a gift. The person whose turn it is can choose to take a gift already opened instead of choosing a wrapped gift. If so, the person whose gift was taken gets to pick a new wrapped (or open) gift. Continue until everyone has had a turn. Just remember whatever your family chooses, choose to create lasting and warm memories that you and your family will cherish for a lifetime. Our families and our time together are precious!