In the not to distant future or thoughts will turn toward the Christmas season and all the trappings, some good, but most are nerve-racking. My friends complain each year that the joy of the holidays seem to be overshadowed by the rush- rush and have-to out of tradition and guilt.

This year, I have hope. The Santa Claus image of material goodies tied to those who have been nice seem to be eroding from our fabric. In its place, meaning and deepening experiences are replacing the tinsel laden trappings of surface expressions. The problem is that big question expression on many faces. My friends seem to know what they want to do; they just don’t seem to know how to do it. Here are six tips to get you moving toward a more meaningful Christmas season.

Tip #1.

Plan ahead.

This is the perfect time of year to sit down with your family before the leaves begin to fall and discuss what you loved about last years holiday and what you did not. Not everyone will express his or her delight in visiting Aunt Martha, and, there may be a need for compromise. Get everyone’s in-put and make this year one that everyone feels excited about.

Tip#2

Research the meaning behind your holidays.

Why do we have Christmas trees? Give your family a task as to why you celebrate the way you do. Instead of doing things out of habit, learn the reason for the season.

Tip #3

Avoid Debt

Make sure you have a budget before giving into the mindless consumerism onslaught at the mall. Make sure everyone understands the reason behind the budget and get creative. The best gifts I have received over the years didn’t cost a thing, only the time and talent of the giver.

Tip #4

Avoid stress.

Add into your schedule time for the unexpected. The days will become shorter, both in terms of daylight and it seems in terms of minutes. Don’t sweat the small stuff, go with the flow and laugh more at the interruptions of the day.  KISS (Keep It Super Simple)

Tip#5

The gifts.

Make a new tradition. Instead of many meaningless gifts under the tree, consider one gift that the person has wanted all year.  From my perspective people don’t know what they want until they see a commercial or someone else’s toy. Start now and do some diligent research on each member of your family. Making the season memorable both in time and gifts is what makes our memories special.

Tip#6

Our family began a new tradition a couple of years ago.

During the year, we sought out one charity that we felt we would like to contribute to. At Christmas each member gave to that charity and wrote a letter and put it on the tree inside an ornament explaining why that charity was important. Giving to those less fortunate is a great way to bring a new focus to the season.

There are as many ways to celebrate the holidays, as there are people. I hope this list will begin to inspire you to take your holidays to the next level. I’d love to hear how you celebrated simply and with meaning.

Eileen Koff CPO