So you read Natalie's article Commercialism is Ruining the Holidays (and what to do about it) and you're looking for more alternatives?
Fantastic. I've got you covered.
Growing up, my family was one that had mountains and mountains of presents under the tree - and we were not extraordinarily well off. My mom worked her full time job as well as a part-time job evenings and weekends at the local Toys 'R Us to get us the presents that would help us to feel loved and special.
As we got bigger, so did our presents, until Mom was writing poem driven scavenger hunts that took us all over the house looking for the next clue, and finally to the shed where our new bikes were waiting.
Eventually, and thanks to things like student loans, travel restrictions, the addition of plus-ones to family gatherings, and a dose of the wisdom, we all started to realize how crazy it all was, and rather than joining in and falling prey to the idea that displays of gifts and presents communicated how much we loved one another forever, we toyed with alternatives.
First, we enacted a spending limits, which were generally abided by, in theory, but we continued to find loopholes ("It was BOGO!" "It doesn't count if it's in your stocking!") and sometimes flagrantly broke the rules.
Later, we traded big gifts for all day movie, napping, and cookie-binging marathons, watching my very favorite movie, A Christmas Story, on 24-hour repeat.
And finally this year, we decided to skip presents altogether. We'll be strolling through a Christmas market this Saturday, making homemade raviolis, and then heading to brunch as a family Sunday next morning.
The true spirit of Christmas for me was never about the presents. It was always about being together, as a family. It was about cozy pajamas and hot chocolate, hyggelig evenings lit only by the tree and maybe the crackling fire video we found on YouTube.
Have you tried alternatives? What traditions do you love? Which could you do without? Let me know.