10 steps to a meaningful Christmas
Making a list and checking it twice – the way I see it, Santa's had it easy. By the time December 25th rolls around, I've typically made a dozen lists outlining the minutiae of gifts that need to be purchased, picked up, and wrapped; menus that need to be planned and shopped for; invitations that need to be mailed or responded to; and ornaments required for the latest décor plans.
Well, this season I've decided to make two very different lists. Here they are:
10 steps to a meaningful Christmas
1 Decline all invitations to unimportant parties. You will not miss the room temperature eggnog or the loud co-worker who corners you under the mistletoe. Vow to stay home instead and roast marshmallows with the kids, watch "It's a Wonderful Life", and read "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" out loud.
2 Avoid giving extravagant or generic gifts. Opt for a gift from the heart. Your hairdresser will appreciate homemade cookies as much as an imported box of chocolates. A friend who loves to read will prefer a beautifully wrapped book to an impersonal gift certificate.
3 Schedule a day for yourself - browse in a bookstore, go to an afternoon movie, or enjoy a decadent pedicure.
4 Do something for someone you don't know. Volunteer at a food bank, deliver a basket of goodies to the local fire department, or arrange to read to a senior.
5 Make an anonymous donation to a worthy organization (and don't tell a soul). Many religions consider an anonymous gift to be a divine act.
6 Make an event out of gift-wrapping. Gather all your supplies, play Christmas music, drink apple cider, and get creative. Allow children to participate – aim for perfectly charming rather than perfect.
7 Send beautiful cards with photos and a handwritten message instead of a gift to loved ones far away.
8 Fill Christmas stockings with joy - invite family members to drop a special note into each other's stocking.
9 Let everyone contribute to the Christmas meal – don't say no when your sister-in-law offers to make the stuffing.
10 Recommit to a focus on the true meaning of Christmas and avoid cynics.
10 easy decorating suggestions
1 Go for a walk and gather evergreen boughs and branches to fill your home with a festive scent. Use them to decorate the mantle, staircase, and front door.
2 Consider a tree adorned only in white lights, or completely bare - marvel at nature's perfection.
3 Group large pinecones in threesomes bound with ribbon. Hang from doorknobs, stair banisters, or in windows.
4 Spread cheer in unexpected places, like the powder room. String white lights around the mirror and hang festive ornaments from the chandelier.
5 Keep a Polaroid handy and snap family and friends as they enter, or posed near the tree. Post pictures on a bulletin board covered with pretty gift-wrap.
6 Add sparkle to the table with rhinestone brooches and clip earrings.
7 Nuts are traditional holiday favourites - use them decoratively. Hang walnut clusters from pretty bows and attach to boughs throughout the house.
8 Let school-age children decorate the tree all by themselves. Offer paper, scissors, glue, felt, popcorn, cranberries and ribbons. Provide help only when asked and make no adjustments to the handiwork. Then revel in their pride.
9 Fill beautiful bowls with oranges, pomegranates, or apples.
10 Create a tree of life - invite friends and family to contribute one ornament each to your tree. Don't worry about "matching" – instead celebrate the differences and bask in how much you are loved.