Did you know that Christmas is one of the most commercialized holidays? It’s sad but true. Nowadays as early as September, some stores have already started displaying Christmas related merchandise right next to Halloween. Growing up in the Philippines, I could understand that. Because there were no Halloween nor Thanksgiving holidays there, as soon as September rolls, stores start to put up Christmas displays and play Christmas music. But here in the United States, it seems like Christmas comes earlier every year. Stores are competing for business and want to get ahead of their sales that holidays have become just ways to lure people to spend unnecessarily and not really give thought to the true meaning of the holidays they’re celebrating.
If you want to experience a stress-free non-commercialized Christmas celebration, read on. Here are six ways that could help you have a more relaxed Christmas holiday.
1. KEEP IT SIMPLE
Plan on keeping your celebration a simple one. Christmas is not about lavish parties or extravagant presents. The true meaning of Christmas is honoring and remembering that God sent His one and only Son our Savior Jesus Christ. When Jesus was born, He didn’t even have an elaborate entry into this world. He was born in a manger where only Joseph, Mary and the barn animals were present. It was a great example of true humility from which we could learn from. Be with family and friends who are dear to you and give thanks to God for His gift to us.
2. GO ON A MEDIA DIET
Marketers are very good at getting the attention of consumers. This is why every year, millions of unwanted and unneeded items are purchased as gifts to self or to others. To avoid getting into this trap, it’s best to avoid TV ads or mail.
Once you get your mail, sort through them and recycle the junk mail right away including the store ads because as soon as you leave them out in the open, and you start reading these ads, you know what’s going to happen next. If you are not aware that a certain store is having a Big Sale, chances are you really don’t have a need for the items that they are selling. The only reason you think you need to buy something is because a certain store has a coupon or a big discount. Advertisers are really good at capturing your attention and luring you to purchase. As Steve Jobs quoted “A lot of times people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
3. MAKE IT ABOUT OTHERS AND NOT ABOUT YOU
Christmas is not a reason to shop for new things for yourself. A great way to share your love this season is to volunteer at local food pantries or rescue groups and help out when you can. If you can’t volunteer, you can just send them some goodies to help the less fortunate. For sure they will have a wonderful Christmas and you will feel good about it too.
4. MAKE YOUR OWN GIFTS
Who has time to make their own gifts these days? Not many. That’s why handmade gifts are valuable. It means that you took time out of your schedule to put some thought to your giving. Handmade gifts are one of a kind and also usually more economical. For some people making stuff could also be therapeutic.
5. START EARLY
Starting early also means saving up incrementally during the entire year. You know you’re going to spend more during Christmas time so don’t stress about it in December. Set aside some spending money throughout the year.
Usually what stresses people out during Christmas season is the last-minute shopping. Last-minute shoppers don’t get the best deals. If you are able, don’t wait until the last minute. Throughout the year, you will find items that are on-sale that you could give to your family or friends as Christmas presents. If you plan it right, by the time Christmas comes you are already done shopping and you probably got the best deals too. Also, if you start early you will most likely have time to make your own gifts for your family and friends.
6. TAKE TIME TO RECONNECT WITH NATURE
One of the best free antidote to a stress-free Christmas holiday is the time you spend outside in a relaxing quiet of nature. Nature benefits us in so many ways. It has the ability to melt down our stress and worries when we truly connect with it. As Dr. Les Higgins said in his book Claim your Wildness: And Let Nature Nurture Your Health and Well-being, “the mix of solitude and beauty sets the scene perfectly for contemplation, reverie and reflection.” Even 10 to 15 minute walks will help refresh your mind and spirit. If you are not able to go out in nature, go to a quiet room and listen to some soothing sounds or look at some landscape and nature photos. These also have some benefits to the way your mind works and help reduce stress.
I hope that you found these tips helpful and that you will have a great Christmas celebration with your loved ones away from the commercialism Christmas season has become.