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Making Christmas Merry | Ten Christmas Experience Ideas (plus, come add yours!)

Yesterday, I wrote about the idea that Christmas holidays are more enjoyable when you focus on experiences over stuff.

So, to wrap up this Christmas series, I thought it would be fun to list some of my favorite not-involving-stuff ways to make Christmas merry. And you can share your favorites at the end!

1. Play music.

Christmas music doesn’t have to cost you anything (use the radio! Pandora! CDs from the library!) and it really just makes everything feel more festive.

2. Bake something.

Even if you’re not a big baker, try making a batch of frosted cut-out sugar cookies (use a roll of refrigerated dough and a can of frosting if you’re really short on time.) I’ve yet to meet a kid who doesn’t thoroughly enjoy this.

3. Put lights up all over the place.

Christmas lights make things feel cozy and happy and they’re not just for the tree! My kids like to string rope lights in their bedrooms, but you could also put lights in your bathroom, your kitchen, or over your doorway.

They use some electricity, yes, but not THAT much. And Christmas only comes once a year. Enjoy your lights guilt free.

4. Go look at other people’s Christmas lights.

You can pay to do this if you want, but if you’re lucky enough to live in an area where people really get into decorating, you can probably see some beautiful lights just by driving around in neighborhoods.

5. Do Christmas tasks with someone you love.

Have to wrap presents? Do it with a friend. Or with your spouse. Turn on some music, have some hot chocolate, and make it fun!

Need to hang Christmas lights outside? Let your kids help (though not with roof lights. Ahem.)

When you decorate your tree, make an evening of it, especially if you’ve got kids in the house! I don’t think there’s a kid out there who doesn’t enjoy decorating the tree.

7. Watch a Christmas movie or listen to a Christmas radio program.

J.D. Roth from Get Rich Slowly posted about the Christmas Bear radio program some years ago, and my kids have listened to it every year since (Sonia and Zoe are the only ones who are into it these days, though!)

8. Go hear some live Christmas music.

Don’t have the money for tickets to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra? See if there’s some free music going on in your area. Most churches and schools put on some sort of Christmas program. You also might want to ask around to see if there are any inexpensive local Christmas concerts you might be able to attend.

9. Make someone else’s Christmas merry.

Last year, my kids and I joined some friends from church and brought Christmas music to several nursing homes in our area.

You could serve in a soup kitchen or volunteer at a food pantry. You could go caroling. You could do Operation Christmas Child. There are lots of options out there, so choose one and get your mind off of yourself by helping someone.

10. Enjoy special food or drinks.

You don’t necessarily have to make them yourself. Just buy them if you’re short on time. But do allow some treats that you wouldn’t normally say yes to.

(That’s caramel monkey bread, in case you were wondering.)


Ok, it’s your turn to add to my list! What fun and festive experiences do you recommend during the Christmas holidays?

Previous posts in this series:


Think more about serving and less about impressing.

Make a priority list.

It’s ok to have an imperfect Christmas. And it’s ok to say no.

3 ways to lower children’s Christmas present expectations

5 ways to spend less time Christmas shopping

On compromise, unselfishness, and not falling out of the boat on the other side

Start a holiday activity/social plan

Make a list of giftees and plan your purchases now

On giving meaningful gifts

More Experiences, Less Stuff


Joshua’s 365 post: Sugar…Caffeine

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Tuesday 3rd of December 2013

When i was younger before my children were grown, i worked an extra job at Christmas time because i was devorced and wanted my children to have what they wanted. Thank God my children turned out well and now that i am older and my income is fixed, my Sons with children told me not to buy gifts their children do not need them. They help me when i need it and there is much less stress in my life. I love my children and grandchildren. I have 3 grown sons and 1 grown daughter, 1 grown granddaughter, 1 grown grandson and 3 teenage grandchildren. I am so blessed.

Heather H.

Saturday 24th of November 2012

This reminded me of Christmas season of my childhood and traditions and rituals my family had brought from Europe to their new home in Toronto: first St. Nicholaus Day on 6th, many handmade gifts, singing the carols, decorating the tree and all the food cooked from scratch at home. Incredible mixture of vanilla, cinnamon and cloves spreading from our kitchen into the whole house...Seeing now the crowds in the shops, sometimes piles of gifts with little personal meaning and houses decorated and looking more like some amusement park ... I feel somewhat sentimental when remembering those childhood festivities and joy.


Sunday 18th of November 2012

Living in a country where Christmas occurs in Summer, we have a few different traditions.

We spend time cleaning the brush away in the backyard ready for bushfire (wildfire) season, so we can have the Christmas BBQ without having to worry about the yard.

We also set up for Christmas by doing things as a family, like planting summer bulbs in pots in September. The flowers in pots are our Christmas decorations. We also plant extra bulbs as gifts for friends.


Monday 12th of November 2012

For the last few years, I've had a little Christmas Eve tradition at home. I live alone, so this is by myself, before the family celebrations begin in earnest the next day (it's partly my way to QUIETLY enjoy the season). Cookies & cocoa at hand, I turn out all the lights except for the tree, and then listen to Louis Armstrong recite "The Night Before Christmas." Gosh I felt more peaceful just typing that....


Saturday 10th of November 2012

Christmas music is a huge part of our holiday season, as is baking. I have successfully recreated all of the recipes that I knew growing up, and enjoy having my kids participate in that with me. Now if the season could just be a tad bit longer so I could also fit in enough crafting, I would be happy!

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