The Commonwealth at York

The holiday season is a time for joy and wonder, twinkling lights and reflecting on another year gone by. They can also be hectic, stressful and busy, with a packed social calendar and a long shopping list that makes your bank account hurt just looking at it. If the holiday cheer hasn’t found you yet, it might be time to mix up your traditions and do things differently.

Taking a non-traditional approach to the holidays is a fun way to bring new life into the holiday season, and you can do it easily by making the smallest of changes to your existing schedule or plans. Choose to forego gifts this year, or to head out on an adventurous vacation. Offer to spend your spare time volunteering for an organization you care about, or switch up your family’s usual holiday meal.

You don’t have to do much planning or spending to make this a holiday season to remember. Here are four non-traditional ways to spend the holidays to help you find the holiday spirit you deserve.

Go Without Gifts
If the gift of giving is top on your list of holiday cheer, this may not be the strategy for you. However, if you already have everything you need, want to save cash and try focusing less on stuff and more on joy, well, going without gifts is the way. It’s as easy to execute as telling your loved ones that you won’t be giving or receiving gifts this year. While some may have a hard time with this, you can offer to let them donate money to charity in your name, or offer to partake in a special meal or experience together, in lieu of gifts. There are many ways to make the holidays special, connected and bright, and giving gifts doesn’t have to be one of them.

Mix Up Your Meal
If your family has been sitting down to the same holiday meal for decades and you’d like to mix it up this year, offer to plan something different. Plan a holiday potluck where guests have to bring something they’ve never cooked before, or curate a menu of your favorite ethnic or cultural foods. Make your meal all about a theme or change the time of day from dinner to brunch, and enjoy your favorite brunch and breakfast foods.

The holidays can be hectic and busy, and it can be easy to forget about the many people and organizations in need. To truly realize the holiday spirit, skip the holiday social events and cocktail parties and spend your time volunteering for a charitable organization you like. You could offer to spend saturdays at your nearby animal shelter or stock food at your local food pantry, as easy examples. Give of your time and energy, and see how your holiday spirit quickly grows.

Get Away
If you really feel like going off the grid this season, plan to get away during the holidays and travel to a far off destination you’ve always wanted to experience. Head to the tropics for warm breezes and gorgeous beaches, or skip away to a different country to experience the holidays on foreign soil. No matter what you do, plan to make exploring and adventure your holiday goals, and you’ll find the spirit no matter where you go!