5 Ways To Make The Holidays Less Materialistic

Dec 13, 2016

It happens about this time every year:

You nearly drive over someone’s grandma to find mall parking. You make a flying dive to grasp the last My Little Pony, barely evading hordes of zombie parents in a scene out of The Walking (Holiday) Dead. You dissolve into the arms of a sales clerk when he tells you they’re out of Star Wars Lego.

Exhausted, indebted, and totally frazzled, you pull yourself together and vow to shop another day. After all, you’re doing it for the kids. But isn’t there a more meaningful way to encourage the spirit of giving? Yes, and its far simpler than you might think. Here are five ways to add meaning to your family’s merriment.

Spread The Joy

As parents, we know giving is better than receiving, but your kids may not exactly be down with that. If your kids don’t know they’re fortunate, show them by volunteering together at a local shelter or food bank. You can bake cookies, pack up gently used toys, or sort food at a holiday drive. Volunteerism shows kids that giving your time, effort, and kindness is always more rewarding than expecting a sleigh full of gifts.

You'll Also Love: Acts Of Kindness Advent Calendar

Give An Adventure

Sure, that new toy will make them squeal with delight, but its ultimate fate is to be sold for chump change at a yard sale. However, a gift of time spent together on a special adventure will be remembered for a lifetime – and it doesn't have to be elaborate or expensive. Consider a homemade gift card with the promise of a day of snowshoeing, a trip to a new park, or even a day where kids get to plan the itinerary.

Shop For a Stranger

Invite your kids to shop for a child who may not get many presents under the tree. Each year, businesses organize toy drives for families in need, and this may be the perfect opportunity to introduce the spirit of giving to your kids. But make sure your kids are old enough to understand this concept before walking into a toy store, or your best intentions could quickly get scrooged.

You'll Also Love: What Should I Say About Santa? A Parent’s Moral Dilemma

DIY Gifts

Nothing evokes the spirit of giving more than kids making gifts then watching loved ones open them. Even if your kids aren’t budding Martha Stewarts they can still paint a mug, create a card, or design an ornament as a gift. DIY gifts will likely outlast any store-bought present and become cherished memories for years to come.

Cultivate Customs

If presents are the centrepiece of your family’s traditions, consider creating some new ones. Change the focus from your child’s wish list to a family holiday-fun guide. Write down all the things you would love to do together over the holidays: watch a cherished movie, go caroling, light candles, lace up your skates, or bake cookies.

When you get right down to it, this season is more about the memories you give than the money you spend. So give generously, lovingly, and often.

Article Author Laura Mullin
Laura Mullin

Read more from Laura here.

Laura Mullin is a published playwright and writer and the co-artistic director of the award-winning company, Expect Theatre. She is also the co-host and producer of PlayME, a podcast that transforms plays into audio dramas now on CBC. She has worked in theatre, film, and television and lives in Toronto with her writer/producer husband and daughter. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @expectlaura.