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7 Ways to Make Christmastime Memorable (Without Tons of Gifts)

7 Ways to Make Christmastime Memorable (Without Tons of Gifts)

Ahhh, Christmastime. There are the glowing Christmas lights, sparkling snowflakes, the festive music, the giving spirit, and the holiday parties. Kids all over the world delight in decorating Christmas trees, baking Christmas goodies, and the excitement of Santa Claus. The buzz of the holiday season is almost magical, yet Christmas is even better than the fun celebrations. On Christmas every year, Christians celebrate the birth of Christ.

Traditionally, this celebration has involved consumerism with the buying and exchanging of gifts. In fact, for many countries, the Christmas season is the largest economic stimulus due to the dramatic increase in retail sales. In 2013 alone, the United States’ retail industry generated more than three trillion dollars during the Christmas season.

While giving and receiving gifts is fun, the celebration of Christmas can be special without breaking the bank. Here are some ideas of how to make Christmas memorable without spending a fortune on presents.

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1. Send a meaningful letter 

Sometimes, the best gifts are words. Consider taking time this Christmas season to sit down and write a heartfelt letter to a family member or friend. When you express your gratitude and love, it will brighten their day and also make you feel good. You can also send a letter or card to someone who is deployed in the military.

2. Go Christmas caroling

Gather up your family and friends and go Christmas caroling through your neighborhood or to a local nursing home. There are many people who are shut-ins, and bringing the joy of Christmas to them can brighten their day and make Christmastime memorable for them and for you.

3. Invite a new guest

Although Christmastime is full of joy and hope, it can also be a time of sadness for people. Facing the holidays alone while missing a loved one who has passed away or is very far away can be incredibly difficult. If you know someone who will be spending time alone during the Christmas season, consider inviting him or her to join you as you celebrate.

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4. Get creative in the kitchen

Baking Christmas treats with loved ones can be a memorable event. Multiple generations can be involved as you have fun in the kitchen. Teaching kids to decorate Christmas goodies or make a classic treat (such as lefse here in the midwest United States) makes Christmastime special for all involved.

5. Pack a shoebox

Consider being part of the meaningful mission of Operation Christmas child. When you fill a shoebox with items for a child in need, it can give them hope and help make their Christmas special.

6. Get together with neighbors

Invite your neighbors over a tasty holiday drink. It doesn’t have to be an extravagant party requiring tons of planning and stress. You can mix up a delicious holiday drink for adults, or you can skip the alcohol and serve hot cocoa and candy canes.

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7. Start a fun tradition

When I was a kid, my extended family would get together every year for a unique Christmas party. We all brought five dollars and played games for the money. After a couple hours of playing various games, we all took our winnings (or what we had remaining if we lost), and went to the grocery store. There, we each picked out non-perishable food items. We found the best deals to stretch our dollars as far as we could.

Then, we all went together to the local ‘Santa’s Village’ to see Santa and his reindeer and donate the food, where it would then be distributed in the community by Santa’s Village staff. Those memories were so much fun and made Christmastime very special for me. This is a tradition my husband and I will also do with our kids when they’re old enough to play games.

Now I’d love to hear from you. What are some Christmas traditions you have that don’t involve spending a fortune on presents?

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Featured photo credit: MerryChristmas2014/Antonio Castagna via flickr.com

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Dr. Kerry Petsinger

Entrepreneur, Mindset & Performance Coach, & Doctor of Physical Therapy

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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