So how are those holiday preparations coming? Are you one of those who had everything bought and wrapped back in July? Or perhaps you’re more like me, one who can’t shop for a Christmas gift until I hear Christmas music – AFTER Thanksgiving.
The holiday season is a loaded time of year for so many of us. For some, it really is a time of happy chaos and joyful anticipation. For others, it means insane workloads and tremendous pressure. (Talk to a mail carrier or a church choir leader lately?)
As for those of you who follow Jewish or Muslim traditions, I don’t know what kind of preparation pressures you’re under, but I’m sure you’ve got ’em too. :)
And then there are many for whom the holiday season is just something to get through, a really hard time of year for all kinds of reasons.
So it’s easy to get caught up in the ‘shoulds’ about now.
We should BE this. We should DO that. We should FEEL this. We should WANT that. If we’re not careful, we can talk ourselves into a tizzy about all the things we ‘should’ do at Christmas.
Sometimes, though, I think it helps to shake things up a bit. Who says we have to do everything the exact same way year after year? Who says we have to do everything the exact same way our parents did? Or the way our neighbors do?
If it’s okay to try new recipes in the kitchen, isn’t it okay to try a new twist on other traditions as well?
Sure it is.
So I thought I’d share with you some unique holiday ideas I’ve heard over the years that struck my fancy. Call it the Adventure of the Unexpected – the adventure that comes when we add something a little unexpected to some time honored traditions.
Who knows? Maybe one of these will strike your fancy.
Ready? Here you go: 6 ways to add some unexpected to YOUR holiday.
Decorate a (really) different kind of tree.
A friend of mine once decided to see if she could decorate a tree with nothing but things she found in her yard. There were plenty of woods close by, so she scavenged for bits of dried grasses, vines and colorful berries, interesting leaves, twigs, cones and a feather or two. She gathered and sorted, tied and glued. She did add a few white lights, but tucked them down in the interior of the branches (near the trunk), so that it glowed from the inside out. To this day, that was one of the prettiest trees I’ve ever seen.
What unusual material could you use to decorate?
Go All Out.
One dad I know loves Christmas so much that he puts a small tree in every single room of the house, each with it’s own ‘theme’. One will be a Looney Toons tree, decorated totally in cartoon characters. One will be an angel tree, decorated totally in angel figures. One is the “family history” tree, decorated with nothing more than the homemade treats the kids made when they were small. Each room is a collection of one kind or another – Santas, angels, teddy bears, superheroes; a veritable mini-museum of what they love best.
What unusual or best loved themes might you create?
Go somewhere unexpected.
I knew one family who went camping every year from Christmas to New Year’s at Cades Cove, a beautiful place in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Because they camped, they had to hold gift-giving to a reasonable level. Too hard to pack all that stuff with a tent. :)
And being away from home and outdoors at special time of year seemed to help them stay connected to what mattered most – each other.
I’ve known others who threw tradition to the wind and took a cruise at Christmas, or booked a trip to their favorite ski lodge.
Hey, the clean up on Christmas morning would be a breeze! :)
Invite a new world to dinner.
I have a another friend who’s father was the president of a small liberal arts college for many years. Because there were always a handful of international students stranded on campus over the holidays, her parents began inviting some of them to their home for Christmas dinner. Over the years, having an international guest, or three, became as much a part of their tradition as the tree.
Imagine what you could do with this. You could host friends of different cultures, different geographies, different traditions. Have a time of sharing and exploring those differences. Host a meal with dishes, readings or gifts from each culture.
Experiment with new ways to celebrate the complexity –and connection– that adds depth and meaning to our lives.
Turn gift-giving upside down.
I’ve seen some pretty creative – and impressive – examples over the years of those who found ways to put the ‘giving’ back in gifts.
Make it. One family set a goal one year that no one could give any store-bought gifts. Everything had to be something they made or created on their own. For some, that might have meant a batch of home made cookies. For others, it might have meant a heartfelt letter or poem, or perhaps a beautiful handmade wooden box.
When was the last time you made/built/drew/created something from scratch?
Serve it. Another family skipped gift giving altogether and chose to spend their holiday in service, volunteering together at a local shelter. Giving the gift of service can add tremendously to our community – but there’s no reason why this wouldn’t work among family as well.
Anyone need a car wash?
Live it. On a recent trip, one of my Courageous Women said that she’d decided to start buying experiences rather than “stuff”. And I loved that. Imagine how that could work as part of your gift giving this season. The entire family could pool their resources and go after one big ‘experience’ (diving lessons, an overnight horseback ride, a trip to London.)
The possibilities are as endless as your imagination.
Have some fun with your Inner Child.
I once knew someone whose family tradition including making sure that everyone got a set of new pajamas for Christmas. Apparently, the idea was that you’d be in them all day on Christmas Day anyway, so why not make that a treat as well?
And then recently, a young woman told me about her grandfather, someone she loved dearly who has long since passed on. She said one of the things she always loved about him was his playful childlike nature. So, in honor of his memory, we came up with the idea of giving everyone on her list a toy this year. That’s right – a toy, even for the grown ups.
How long has it been since you played a game of jacks?
Remember – Adventure comes in all shapes and sizes. It doesn’t have to be something dramatic or daring. It can be something as simple as a new set of jammies and a hand of Go Fish, played at the base of your all-natural tree.
Or not. :)
So, how about you?
How do you add a little adventure to the holidays?
But there are only a few spots left, so grab yours NOW!
Photo Credits: Wendy Pitts Reeves