How to Make this Holiday Season Truly Meaningful

By Cheryl Mahoney

Christmas is coming, the goose might be getting fat, but wallets are getting thinner.  There have been a lot of gloomy predictions this year about struggles to pay for Christmas.  I think we need more positive thoughts on that subject.


#1: I think that scaled-back holidays are often nicer than huge ones.  I firmly believe that buying fewer gifts makes for better gifts–as they say, quality over quantity.  When I go hunting for lots of presents for someone, I usually end up buying kind of so-so things because I just don’t have that many good ideas.  Focusing on a few gifts let’s you concentrate and come up with some really good ideas.  Also, it takes a lot of stress out of the equation to try to do a little less.

#2: People really do like home-made things.  I gave up buying Hallmark cards years ago when I discovered that home-made ones save money, are far more personalized and–best of all–very popular among my friends and family.  You can do wonderful things on a computer, and colored pencils work rather well too.  As for other home-made ideas, who doesn’t appreciate a nice batch of home-baked cookies?

#3: It’s not really about monetary things anyway.  True, a turkey and a Christmas tree and most gifts cost money, but they don’t have to cost a lot.  And the most important part of the holiday really isn’t a matter of money.  From the religious perspective, Christmas is about the birth of Christ.  From the secular perspective, the holidays are about family and friends and giving and generosity. None of those are things that should really be affected by the economy.

So this year, I think we ought to view an economic crisis as a good opportunity to bring some creativity, simplicity and meaning into a perhaps less extravagant holiday, but one with a better spirit to it.

If you want to go further and have a truly non-materialistic holiday, you could incorporate volunteering or giving to those truly in need into your plans.

There’s a lot of other great ideas out there, a few of which I want to share with you:

A View from a Distance: 2008: Revisiting Gratitude and Giving

This moving piece offers a nice perspective on Christmas and ten wonderful suggestions for making the holiday meaningful.

Communicating Sense: Redefine Christmas–Social Media Meets Charitable Giving

This is a great post providing resources for online giving.

If you are going to shop online you can still help charities by using iGive, which is a service that allows you to shop online at over 700 brand name stores and a portion of each purchase will be donated to your favourite cause.

However you choose to celebrate it, I hope you have a merry and meaningful holiday season!


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