Christmas is just around the corner.
If you celebrate Christmas, you know it’s a magical time of the year. It’s also a fucking EXPENSIVE time of the year.
Taking the Christmas presents down a notch for some can not only save you some serious cash, but it can also bring back the true holiday spirit. Some options are: secret Santa (great for big families), doing only stockings, or a spending cap.
It can also encourage more quality time with family, the development of new and exciting traditions, and reduce stress on literally everyone involved – whether it be friends, family or co-workers.
With this in mind, we’re sharing some practical strategies on how we can make Christmas a little less about gifts and a little more about the true meaning of the occasion.
How To Make Christmas Not About Gifts
♡ Do a holiday cookie swap.
One fun thing to do that’s not gift oriented is a cookie swap. Get together with your girlfriends and bake a bunch of different types of cookies. Then, swap!
Everyone gets a few of each type of cookie, so you end up with an array of cookies of all varieties. (If cookies aren’t to everyone’s taste, mix it up and do any kind of festive treat. As long as everyone makes the same amount, it still works.)
We love this, because baking together is such a fun bonding experience and it also results in a lot of laughs and deep sleepover-style girl chats.
♡ Watch Christmas movies (like every night).
Watching movies with your family or friends is another awesome way to make the holidays less about gifts.
Instead of looking forward to the next gift-getting opportunity, everyone can look forward to spending time together watching the next film with some festive snacks.
Whether you watch movies every night with your kids or every weekend with your core group, movies are the PERFECT way to gather for the holidays with zero obligation to bring gifts.
Have everyone contribute to an ultimate holiday movie list, make a schedule, and create your dreamy holiday movie theater space. (Wintery backyard paradise or cozy indoor wonderland? YOU PICK.) If you need some movie inspo be sure to check out the Bosstick’s Christmas card tradition here.
♡ Read stories or books together.
Christmas stories always deliver in the holiday spirit department. They always get it right, and keep the focus of the holidays not on gifts, but on togetherness and love.
So, to let those good Christmas vibes enter your home, read lots of holiday stories. If you have kids, read a Christmas book every night and make it dreamy with flashlights, snacks, and maybe even some matching PJs.
You could also do this with your girlfriends by hosting a Christmas book club. Pick a few short books, and meet weekly to discuss the story and meaning over some margaritas.
♡ Build a gingerbread town.
Getting creative and making something as ridiculous as a gingerbread town is SO in the holiday spirit.
All these silly activities remind us to slow down and focus on family and friends, instead of what we usually think of as “productive” and “important.”
One of our reader’s family goes so hard on this tradition that they make CRAZY gingerbread structures like the London Bridge or the New York Skyline. Amazing, right?
You don’t have to be that intense, but imagine how much your family and friends would look forward to an annual gingerbread building event.
Keep it simple or be really fucking extra, either way, have a blast and remember what it’s like to be a kid on the holidays together.
♡ Make decorating a super big deal.
Christmas decorating can seem like a total chore when it’s sandwiched between all the holiday chaos. That time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is SO busy and can have you dreading decorating.
If this is you, flip the switch and make decorating a big deal. In fact, make it a whole event. If you have kids, get them really amped about helping you make the whole house into a winter wonderland.
They’ll realize the joy of being together and working on a project as a family that’s just for fun. It inspires their creativity, their sense of teamwork, and, of course, their holiday spirit.
Without kids, you could do this with your girlfriends, too. Spend a weekend hopping to and from each other’s houses putting up decorations. Maybe even grab some new decorations—we got your bougie and budget-friendly decorating ideas here.
Bonus Tip: Make the process of finding your perfect Charlie Brown Christmas tree a big event for your family. Go real or go home, right? (Just kidding, no shame in faux Christmas tree game.)
♡ Have a creative Christmas photoshoot.
Okay, this is something Lauryn and her family does and it’s SO CUTE. As we mentioned above, they pick a movie every year and do a hilarious recreation of it for their Christmas card.
You don’t have to do something humorous necessarily, but get creative, hire a photographer or just have a friend do it, and just have fun with it. No one regrets getting their photos professionally taken.
Your family or friend group will cherish these pictures FOREVER.
♡ Volunteer as a family or friend group.
Volunteering is the absolute perfect way to celebrate generosity this Christmas, without buying lots of expensive gifts.
Getting your family or friends together to go do something for the less fortunate will be humbling, fulfilling, and totally in-line with the spirit of the holidays.
There are lots of opportunities in every community to volunteer. We recommend you find something you’re all passionate about, so you can really put your all into it and make an impact.
Make your holiday special by making someone else’s Christmas AMAZING.
♡ Visit somewhere magical.
Atmosphere can definitely put you in the holiday mood. Take your friends or family somewhere totally magical to celebrate Christmas this year.
When you visit somewhere new together, the experience is the ultimate prize, not gifts. So, find somewhere that goes above and beyond for Christmas and schedule a trip.
Disney comes to mind, but you could also go skiing in Park City or see hundreds of light shows in Chicago. New York City, New Orleans, Vegas, and even Nashville all have lots of Christmas traditions and big displays. Plus, every small town neighborhood has it’s own Candy Cane Lane. Grab a hot chocolate, bundle up and roam the streets looking for lights with your loved ones.
Wherever you go, it’ll be special and memorable without any gifts required.
♡ Come up with totally original holiday traditions.
Original holiday traditions can make Christmas focused on exactly the stuff you want and none of the stuff you don’t.
Of course, some people wear matching PJs on Christmas Day or do the Elf on the Shelf thing, but find something that’s totally unique to your family or friend group.
Just think about what you want your celebration to be focused on, and build a tradition around that! You can get some inspo from The Skinny Confidential team and our readers in this post about original holiday traditions.
(Seriously go read the original Instagram post. There were SO many cool traditions.)
♡ Don’t overload your schedule.
If you don’t want the holiday season to be about gifts, stop packing your schedule so tight this time of year.
It’s so easy for Christmas to just feel like an endless list of places to go, hang for a few hours, open a gift, and then move on to the next thing.
If you really want to savor these moments, slow down, and just do what’s important. Say no to the rest.
You won’t regret this one. Trust us!
Keep Christmas focused on what really matters.
Let us know below your favorite ways to celebrate Christmas.
x, The Skinny Confidential team
+ Learn how to throw the best holiday cocktail party.
++ If you’re after little stocking stuffer ideas, we got you. More here.