Five Steps to a Less Commercial Christmas

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Introduction.  Even if Christmas is your favorite holiday, you might experience too much emphasis on shopping and presents; too little attention given to the “true” Christmas values of peace, love, and charity; and disappointment when the event is over too quickly.

But these five simple steps can make your holiday more fun, more meaningful, and longer-lasting. And The Christmas Game can be a part of your solution.

We love presents. And getting that iPad can be a real thrill.

But the happy feeling you get from obtaining a thing — even a precious thing — is very different from the feeling you get connecting with others by spending time together, helping others, and playing or working together.

Plus, no matter how good it feels to get that iPad, not every present carries such a zing. And if you spend a lot of time, energy, and money on presents, it can displace more important things, and leave you with that nagging sense of something missing.

Happily, the solution is easy. With just a little bit of forethought and planning, you can replace commercialism with the true spirit of Christmas. You’ll spend less money, and have more fun, too.

Step 1. Plan to Focus Less on Presents. Start by recognizing that the gift-giving tradition is an important part of Christmas, but should not be the main focus. There are lots of ways to tame gift-giving mania. Your family might have experimented with solutions. Some families assign gift responsibilities, so each person gives and gets a single present. Others pool resources to provide a single group-present to each family member. Another method is to prohibit store-bought gifts, or put stringent price limits on what can be purchased.

The Christmas Game supports this process with Present Cards — you can include as many or as few as you wish. The use of a “Final Present” card makes sure that every family member receives one significant present. This simultaneously lowers expectations for any other presents under the tree, and prevents the endless hunt-for-more that is bred by uncertainty. You may decide to include one less Present Card each year, gradually squeezing out the commercialism over time.

Step 2. Plan a Meaningful Celebration. Presents, cooking, and decorating are an important part of many people’s Christmas celebration, but the REALLY good feeling comes from doing these things together, and from other activities that bring us closer to loved ones, family, friends, and the larger community. Imagine what would really unlock the Christmas spirit in your house. Baking bread, or teaching a family member how to bake bread? Eating well, or helping others to eat well?

The Christmas Game supports this process of exploring the addition of meaningful activities with a variety of activity cards that help you connect with people who matter.

It may be a very new feeling for some families to venture out on Christmas Day to clean up litter, visit a homeless shelter, or deliver gifts to needy children. Other families might try something less ambitious, like reviewing photo albums, taking group photos, making Christmas wishes for each other, or choosing charities to support. If you talk about doing it, it might not happen. But if you select those cards in advance and plan your celebration, it will happen.

Step 3. Build Traditions. If you build traditions that reflect your values, each year you and your family will experience powerful reminders of who you are. Many families have traditions involving Christmas trees, presents, decorations, and meals. Add more. Build traditions around listening to each other, caring for each other, celebrating what you love, and remembering what you cherish.

The Christmas Game includes many ideas for new traditions that might fit your family, and blank cards so you can include and invent your own traditions.

Step 4. Set Aside Time. Once you have decided to de-emphasize presents and elevate the priority of time spent on things that reflect your understanding of Christmas values, the next step is to actually do it. Set time aside for the things you care about most, whether it be a morning or afternoon, just an hour, or the entire day.

The Christmas Game makes it easy to structure and fill that time. Decide how long you want to play, and include as many cards as can be played in that time. Our family plays from breakfast through dinner, which typically includes about 30 cards. Having the Christmas Game deck selected, wrapped, and ready on Christmas morning ensures that we’ll spend our day wisely.

Step 5. Extend the Celebration. If you celebrate Christmas properly, you’ll be sad when it’s over. But Christmas values last longer than a day, and there is no reason to experience them for just an hour, or to leave them boxed up most of the year. Instead, drink deeply from the Christmas cup.

One way to do that is to begin your celebration early, and end late. For example, many families begin their Christmas traditions four weeks before Christmas, with Advent. And many families go on to celebrate throughout the twelve days of Christmas.

The Christmas Game need not be confined to Christmas Day. You can designate special cards to be played on Christmas eve, and throughout the Christmas holidays. Some families might create an Advent Game that includes one card played each night during the weeks before Christmas.

But there is another way to extend the celebration, too. Even if you only play the Christmas game on Christmas Day, keep aware during the other 364 days that your Christmas celebration is focused on the values you care about most, like Togetherness, Kindness, Fun, Traditions, and Memories. Then, don’t be tempted to shop early for Christmas presents. Instead, shop early for Christmas traditions. Think of opportunities to be kind. Plan for new ways to celebrate each other and the spirit of Christmas.


Commercial interests will try to fill the empty holes in your celebration. But if you have built for yourself a complete and fulfilling Christmas tradition, you won’t be tempted to trade any of it away for the glitz of a store-bought Christmas.


Learn More About The Christmas Game...

Learn more about the Christmas Game books and cards.    

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