10 Alternative Ways to Celebrate Christmas

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(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

If you’re looking for a break from the normal, same ole’ same ole’ that happens every year at Christmas, you might try one of these great ideas for different ways to give gifts, different things to do on Christmas day, or things you can do at any point throughout the holiday season.

10. Buy Nothing

This may be one of the hardest alternatives ways to celebrate Christmas, but many people are trying to reduce the amount of consumption and consumerism they play into over the holiday season. Instead, focus on exchanging the types of gifts that can’t be bought — like quality time with family and friends, a helping hand, or getting some much needed sleep and relaxation.

9. Plan a family outing

Create other activities that don’t center on opening gifts. On Christmas Day, instead of buying lots of gifts to open on the big day, go out to a Christmas movie or a holiday musical or concert. Combine it with dinner in a special setting or have a pizza party.

8. Get up to watch the sunrise

Instead of tempting your kids into staying up late for Santa, tempt them into getting up early to watch one of nature’s most beautiful and least appreciated occurrences. What better way to acknowledge the holiday’s pagan roots, celebrate the returning light, and set a mystical atmosphere over the whole day than to get up for sunrise? (Besides, your kids will get up early for their stockings anyway; might as well make the best of it.)

7. Pool your resources

Forget the traditional gift exchange and just have a giant party. Everyone can chip in an amount toward decorations, food and maybe even entertainment. Each potluck dish is that person’s gift to the group and to one another.

6. Go To Work

Spare a thought for those for whom 25 December is just another working day. Or stay home and make some headway on those projects you’ve had on the back-burner. Productivity can be a guilt-free way to celebrate the holidays. Police, ambulance and firefighters are all on duty, while doctors, nurses and other staff must keep the nation’s hospitals going. Farmers, chefs, waiting staff and even journalists must toil on Christmas Day.

5. Stay in a Hotel

It might be strange to stay in a hotel if you’re not actually on vacation somewhere, but it might be a thought just to getaway or enjoy a day to yourself in a different environment just because. (But if this is accompanied by a sweet vacation to a warm spot, then that would definitely make it better).

4. Go on a retreat

Similar to suggestion #5, but which a broader range of options… treat yourself to a retreat! Should the material pressures of the season become too much, you can always sneak away to a favorite winter park spot or lodge for the weekend. Take along a good book, some tablets for jotting down ideas, your favorite movie or two and let the consumerist pressures of the world wash away.

3. Spend Time Volunteering

Among the meaning-minded who aren’t headed to church, volunteering on Christmas is becoming something of a tradition. There are many options: special dinners, gift programs for poor kids, soup kitchens. On the other hand, beware: It’s become popular enough that slots can fill up fast.

2. Donate in Others’ Name

Instead of worrying about purchasing material gifts, give the gift of charity on behalf of someone you love. You can donate things for a family in the developing world to help them become more self-sufficient. Tell your brother or sister that you donated a water buffalo in his or her name to a poor family in Bangladesh. You can also tell your annoying boss that you donated a pig in his name for charity.

If that idea doesn’t suit you, you can even just make monetary donations to charitable organizations such as the Red Cross, the World Wildlife Fund, the Salvation Army, Ronald McDonald House, a medical or scientific research foundation, or any other organization of your loved-one’s choice on their behalf.

1. Learn Something New

Resolve to spend your holidays focusing on the gift of knowledge and teach yourself how to play a new instrument, how to cook a new dish, or how to speak a new language. You could even give it as a gift by teaching someone else a new skill.  This can tie in well with a New Year’s resolution for a new you — one who is better at the piano, or now knows how to knit!

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