Creating Meaningful Holiday Celebrations

Celebrations are always fun, right?


99% of the time, we're stressed, we're running around like chickens with our heads cut off, we're yelling and screaming...and yet, we will look back and think "Wow, that was fun!"  What we usually mean by that is that we enjoyed seeing the fruits of our labor.  We enjoyed watching others have fun.  We may even trick ourselves into thinking that we had fun too, but in reality, all we did was stress the entire time.

So, let's change all that.

Life isn't about letting others have fun at the expense of our own happiness.  It's about having fun with those people, at the expense of nobody's happiness.

But what if we're not throwing the party?  What if it's the holidays and we have to go see our family and every single year it ends up as crap (someone causing a scene, gossip, fights, etc.)?  Not all people experience this type of holiday, but oh-so-many-of-us do.  And those of us who do, feel obligated to show up to these things.  Why? 

Instead of making your celebrations full of anxiety and stress and arguments, why not create meaningful ones instead?  Why not go your own way and do your own thing?

Life isn't always about being traditional.  Sometimes tradition hurts us or causes us to stress or causes us to go broke at the end of the year (yean, I'm looking at YOU Christmas gifts!).  Creating your own (healthier) traditions can not only save you from the headache (and high blood pressure) of the holidays or other celebrations, but can also save you money, time, and create lasting, meaningful memories that you will cherish for the rest of your life.

Let's take Christmas.  Christmas should really only be celebrated by rich people, because the amount of money and stress that's involved is just insane (not that rich people should be stressed, but they have the money to hire other people to be stressed for them).  Life is too short to spend it paying off credit cards each year because the amount of debt Christmas puts you in (or to spend it broke as a joke each January).  Lack of money is the biggest reason this part of the year is so stressful (that, and crazy family drama).

So, instead, let's change things up:

  • Instead of buying gifts for everyone, draw names This is a common practice already, but if you haven't thought of doing this with your own family yet, maybe try it!
  • Instead of buying gifts for everyone, do a white elephant.

    A "White Elephant" is where everyone going to a gathering brings a gift (from their own house, nothing store bought) for someone of their age group (meaning kids and adults).  Place all the gifts on the table and everyone draws a number.  Then the first person picks a gift, then the second person is allowed to either grab a gift off the table OR steal #1's gift.  And so forth : ) It's VERY fun!  Be prepared for lots of laughs.
  • Instead of buying gifts at all, do an "in-house exchange".

    I just came up with this a few weeks ago.  We have no money to buy gifts, so we're going to all gather gifts for each other from our house.  They can be our items or the person's items (which would be mean, but funny).  The trick is that the person gets to keep the gift, so you can't choose anything you want back.  Then you wrap them and put under the tree.  It's just like regular Christmas, except for broke people! LOL  You can be silly with your gifts, or meaningful.  We're also doing a "white elephant" along with this strange gift exchange. 
  • Instead of cooking a huge meal, assign each person in your house something to cook.

    One person does the meat, one person does the potatoes, etc.  You can do this with all ages, which helps your kids learn how to cook.  My oldest son love making mashed potatoes because of this tradition. 
  • Instead of cooking a traditional meal, create your own tradition by cooking something off-beat like eggrolls (which is what we're doing), or Italian food or order Chinese food.

    Because yum!  Christmas isn't only about ham or turkey, it's about who you choose to spend your time with.  And if you all love Italian food?  Then make a big 'ol lasagna and some garlic bread!  Make what you like, not what you're expected to make.
  • Instead of going to your family's stressful celebration (unless you love to go), tell them you're celebrating elsewhere (and then stay home and do some of the above or below things!).

    This is what we're doing this year! 
  • Create at home traditions, even if you have no money to do anything else.

    So many things in life are free.  You can go for a holiday walk through the park, create family snow-people (and animals--if there's snow!), sing Christmas carols, drink eggnog (not free, but sort of cheap), binge watch holiday movies (A Christmas Story, here I come!  Elf, too!), play board games, dress in funny sweaters, have a rock-paper-scissors battle, have a holiday-Twister-battle, play all sorts of fun holiday games you find on the internet (like the plastic wrap ball game, the candy cane game), and play hide-n-seek with your Elf on the Shelf (or with each other-even if your kids are teens or adults!).  You can even turn this into a challenge, calling it the "No-Cost Christmas Challenge" and each year see how many things your family can do that are free or uber cheap. 
  • Create your own holiday games.
    If you're done looking up crazy fun games on the internet, then why not make your own?  Or just play an already invented one (like a family holiday football game) every year.  But if you're into being creative, you can create games with balloons, pen & paper, games you play with your mouth only (we invented a game called Funky Monkey back when the kids were little--it's a rhyming game in the way you'd play the alphabet game "My name is A, I'm from A, I like to eat A".  Then move on to B and so forth.), dice games, games with objects in your house, etc.  Inventing games is not only fun, but a great way to challenge your mind and laugh your ass off!
  • If you're musical, get the family together to write your own Christmas song(s)!

    We've done this, but I won't share our song here, as it's completely inappropriate (we have teenaged boys).  But, if someone plays an instrument, you can create silly songs or real songs.  Your choice. 
  • AND last but not least, don't let anyone guilt you into doing something you don't want to do. 

    I am sorry if this may be the last Christmas good 'ol Grandma may be around for.  I don't mean to be insensitive, but she's had how many years of having you at whatever celebration your family has thrown?  I bet you 100 bucks that if she had the choice to not have to go every single family gathering, she would have chosen to stay home so many times.  Well, you do have a choice, and if your family wants to guilt you, know that's on them, not you.  And then question the motives of the person guilting you, because nobody guilts someone out of concern for your own well being (not when it comes to things like this).  It's usually only selfish reasons.  If you want skip Christmas?  Skip it.  Go see Grandma a different day.  Go take a vacation and hang out with her on a later date if she's important in your life.  My aunt guilted me into going to see my grandfather in his coffin at the funeral.  I always regretted that.  Nobody likes looking at dead people, but I let her push me up there, telling me "You'll regret if you don't!"  *sigh*  Guilt is the work of selfish people wanting selfish things, but masking it as if you're the one doing something wrong. 

The same things can be applied to birthdays, Easter, or whatever else you celebrate.  Make it your own, because this is YOUR life, and creating lasting, wonderful memories is what celebrating should be about.  Not what's expected of you. 

Imagine yourself to be 90.  Do you want to look back and remember how much fun you had in life?  Or do you want to think "I always did what others wanted me to do".  Because despite what people say, life isn't always about making everyone else happy.  It's about creating your own happiness and finding your way in life, even if that means changing your traditions to suit you more than it suits others. 

Happy Holidays ❤  And I hope all your celebrations are filled with happiness and love!

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