Christmas Doggie

These days Christmas appears to be more of a retail festival than a religious event, and while it can be a season of joy for many, it is a time of stress or loneliness for others.

If the ‘Xcesses of Xmas’ have been getting you down, or if you just want to shake up your usual routine, here are some ideas to help you re-write the rules, create a new meaning or start a new tradition for doing Christmas Day your way.

Have an “Orphan’s Christmas”.
If you have neighbours who live alone or don’t have family nearby, why not invite them to Christmas lunch with you? Ask guests to bring a plate of festive food to share and enjoy hearing new stories on Christmas Day.

Take the stress out of gift giving.
If it’s getting too difficult to buy gifts for family members, suggest that everyone buy one gift for one person. Or to make sure everyone gets something they want, what about ‘buy your own gift’? You can keep up the tradition of placing these presents under the Christmas tree and un-wrapping them together with each “recipient” sharing the story behind his or her gift choice. What’s lost in surprise value is made up for in satisfaction.

Help the needy.
Volunteer at a homeless centre or other charity. Help out in the kitchen or lend a friendly ear to someone who is lonely. Various websites help to connect volunteers with charities, so do an Internet search on ‘volunteers for Christmas’ and see what comes up in your area. Keep in mind that charities can be inundated with volunteers for Christmas Day but need help before and after, so be flexible if you can.

Create your own purpose.
Whether religious or not, for most people Christmas is a time to spend with family. As a major break from usual routines there’s also an opportunity to add further purpose to the day. Make it a day of gratitude, for example, rather than a day of over-consumption. Taking the time to be consciously thankful for what we already have is a great mood lifter.

Do something completely different.
Leave the hot oven behind and opt for a picnic on the beach or in a park. Or head for the city early in the day and take in the magical Christmas window displays without the crowds.

These are just a few ideas to get you thinking of ways to put some extra sparkle into your festive season. However you choose to spend it – Merry Christmas!