Christmas for the fainthearted...

By PaisleyJade - Tuesday, December 07, 2010


Either that phrase filled you with joy and a flood of warm Christmassy memories, or it striked your heart with fear and panic... or maybe a mix of both.

This time of year can bring out the best and the worst in all of us - whether it's the stress and financial burden that comes with the seemingly never ending demand for gift buying and holiday plans, or the strain from the endless end of year parties and breakup doos.  Add those to the relisation that your children are actually rather selfish indeed.

Somehow in our culture, Christmas has become a big rolled up ball of Santa, Christmas trees, snow, tonnes or presents, food, the birth of Jesus and a lot of me me me (and please don't ask me how the snow thing fits in with Christmas for us in the Southern hemisphere).

Here are a few great tips that I've gleaned over the years to help make Christmas more meaningful, less stressful and a whole lot more fun!  Please feel free to add your ideas in the comments - we need all the help we can get!

Family traditions

Did you know that in other countries, Christmas is celebrated a lot differently than in ours?  Around this time of year (early December) many families remember Saint Nicholas (where Santa Clause comes from) and this is the time when gifts are given, in remembrance of what amazing Saint Nicholas used to do for the poor.  Then when it comes to Christmas day, there is no giving of gifts but a focus on celebrating the birth of Christ and having a meal with your family.  Isn't it interesting how traditions change over time and can totally lose their meaning?

I encourage you to create your own family traditions that have meaning and depth.  In our family we have a birthday cake for Jesus on the eve before Christmas, we read the Christmas story and talk about what it means.  We also throw in random fun things like drinking eggnog around the Christmas tree, the annual drive to visit the local Christmas lights etc. Making fun memories and traditions is such an important part of family life.

Giving vs Getting

Do your children turn into selfish kids at Christmastime? Teach your kids to think of others by focussing on learning to give, rather than get.

One great idea is to (as a family), secretly choose a neighbour, someone who is lonely, or a family in need and give something special to them to make their Christmas extra awesome!  The children seem to love the 'secret' factor, and the gift can be from something as small as a card with a block of chocolate, a home baked cake, or something extra special like a voucher to help with their Christmas shopping etc.  It's a wonderful way to teach your children the value of thinking of others.  Even if you don't have children, it's a great way to get your focus off yourself and onto others!

Another idea is to encourage your children to look through their books, toys and clothes, and see if there are nice items that they no longer use/need that can be given away to those in need.  Places like the Salvation Army, Women's Refuge and many churches can put these items in the hands of those who would really appreciate them.

I know of many people who invite those without family to join them for a Christmas meal, one lady in particular who is creating a special Christmas experience for solo mothers.  It's so much more fun to give than to get! 

Money Woes

This time of year can get rather expensive with all the present buying, not to mention holiday plans, end of year functions etc.  Keep a look out for bargains, remember that it's the thought that counts, not the cost. Sometimes homemade gifts are so much more precious and thoughtful than expensive bought ones - make, draw, sing or bake something.

Don't forget that there are great bargains to be found online via places like trademe, felt, etsy and ebay.  You can also recycle some items to buy more - get smart with your shopping.

Remember the Real Reason

So often it's easy to get caught up in the frenzy of Christmas time, the expectations that go along with it. Remember to be easy on yourself - life is more about 'being' than 'doing'.  It's so important to remember the real reason we celebrate Christmas.  

For our family we celebrate the birth of Jesus (what an amazing gift!), our precious extended family, friends and remembering to love the unloved.  Of course that involves gift giving and a whole lot of fun, but it shouldn't be the focus (well, that's our aim anyway).

Here's hoping your Christmastime is stress-free and fun, filled with lots of fun memories, great family traditions and love.

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  1. I love the Jesus cake. It's so beautiful!

  2. loads of great tips Kris. Great post :)

  3. excellent post Kristy.This is the first year that our girls are really talking about presents etc. So this is great food for thought. I love the idea of choosing a family or neighbour to bless. Fantastic.

  4. Fabulous post x I just read a post somewhere about how they give 3 gifts - to represent the 3 gifts to Jesus, which was a good read.

    I have a book about the traditions around the world and like to share that with my children and the story of St Nicholas.

    I totally agree that shifting the focus to giving is the way to go - and children quickly learn the joy that I brings is often much more rewarding than receiving.

  5. LOVED this post Kristy... especially the idea about making a secret surprise for someone in your neighborhood. our next door neighbour is elderly and on her own; her sister just passed away about 3 weeks ago. Your lovely idea has come at just the right time and I will now be getting the kids to make a special basket of goodies for our dear neighbour, Ann as a result of this post. thanks Kristy,you're an inspiration :)

  6. great post. I am enjoying reading posts about shifting the focus of our consumer driven christmas back to the 'reason for the season', Jesus.
    I love the idea of a secret gift to bless someone - just perfect. And I agree, its much more fun to give!

  7. Wonderful post. I love your ideas for creating family traditions and focusing on giving. I will make a note of them, since we are now starting out celebrating Christmas as a family with a child and I want her to know the real reason for the season. Love the birthday cake for Jesus :o)

  8. Great post Kris!! For me? Still strikes fear in the heart hehehe, but only because the whole commercialised present giving thing drives me CRAZY!! I love your ideas :)

  9. Great post! I loving giving homemade presents at Christmas time!!!
    p.s loving those cupcakes!

  10. Love your post!

    consumerism in the last few years arrggh it really gets to me (especially that it still manages to suck me in when I let it!!)

    A lady in our church paints stones and writes verses on them and sells them for around $5 each all over the country. They are called seed stones. And I have always loved the idea of buying a few and setting off one night with the family distributing them all over the neighbourhood for people to randomly find. Like buying a present for Jesus :)

  11. Super good ideas, Drake family!

  12. Love this post and am storing up the ideas. Thanks so much!

  13. Lots of beautiful reminders here.

    Every year I try to think of ways to remind my children how special giving is and how good it feels.
    Homemade and heartfelt items they make may not always look as good to them, but when they realise how appreciative the recipient is, sooo worth it.

    Thanks for the timely reminders.

  14. Love it! Thanks so much :)

  15. Something that has helped us a lot in our marriage is being less than wealthy. We can't afford lots of gifts, and don't care for junk in the house, so we only give one or two gifts to our kids at Christmas. And they're small (cardboard box, box of raisins, small homemade bag). It's easy to keep up now that our family is growing, our children are more aware and there is more money floating around. It would be hard to go the other way around though!

    But seriously, our kids don't know that there is "supposed" to be a commercial hype around Christmas about gifts. When I tried to ask my son what he wanted for Christmas all he could come up with was candy canes.

    I just realised something that probable helps with this is that I mostly only put on channel 6 for the kids to watch and there are no ads on Kidzone.

    We also get doted upon by my in-laws, so there's always plenty at Christmas.

    Thanks for the reminders! And I love what Widge mentioned about the painted stones.

  16. Nice secrets of giving thanks and celebrating festivals. Thanks for so.


Thanks for your comments... I love hearing from you!!!