One of my favorite family Christmases was when nobody felt like cooking a turkey or ham, so we ended up having an assortment of homemade pizzas.
They were delicious, the stress dissipated, and it was the most lighthearted Christmas I can remember.
Not once did I miss the ham.
I love many of the traditions of Christmas. My family has many of them, including finding that damn pickle in the tree to get an extra gift, but sometimes I find the traditions exhausting.
For the last four years, we have traveled 20 additional hours to be with family.
This year we are staying put. We aren’t going anywhere. My husband, two-year-old, grandma, and brother are coming over.
We are opening gifts and having a small ham.
That’s it. The rest of our family is out of state.
No travel, no huge crowds, no family drama.
Now we love our families, and we will undoubtedly travel again in the next couple years, but this year Christmas will be small, and we are okay with this.
This will be a non-traditional Christmas for us this year.
Here are some more non-traditional Christmas ideas that we may also try in the future:
1. Take a cruise
Did you know that many cruise lines offer Christmas cruises? I love cruises because almost everything is taken care of for you.
You don’t have to worry about cooking or cleaning or entertainment: done, done, and done.
Plus, they have a beautifully decorated tree, etc. it’s almost like snapping your fingers and voila, Christmas is ready.
You just need to make sure to save your pennies, so you can go.
2. Order Take-Out
Remember that scene from the movie A Christmas Story when the family ends up going to a Chinese restaurant because the dog ate the turkey?
Well, I say skip the actual restaurant, order take-out and give a shot to the non traditional Christmas dinner this time. Stay in your pajamas all day and watch Christmas movies while digging into some Lo Mein and Kung Pao chicken.
While you’re at it: share your fortunes.
Yes, believe it or not, there are many Chinese restaurants open Christmas day. There is no cooking required: enjoy!
3. Discover traditions of a different culture
Have a Christmas based on the traditions of another culture.
Use wooden clogs instead of stockings (Netherlands).
Substitute kangaroos for reindeer in favorite Christmas songs (Australia). Get a nativity crib opposed to a nativity scene (Italy).
Decorate your house like it would appear on Christmas in a foreign country.
Make food and play music from that country.
Not only does this sound like a great time, but it could be an incredibly enriching educational experience for the entire family.
4. Give a gift you already have
I always spend too much money during Christmas. I do save cash in my Christmas envelope all year, but I avoid too much just for Christmas.
Even though we live modestly, I love to give.
At the same time, I sometimes step back and think about all the waste and materialism involved. That is why I think a neat, non-traditional Christmas idea would be to give gifts you already have.
For example, let’s say your Great Aunt Sally just happens to love the show The Real Housewives. (Don’t judge, it’s an excellent escapism for many.) Well, you just happen to have season 1 on DVD, and you’ve already watched it a million times—perfect!
Or maybe your grandpa loves gold, and you happen to have an indoor putting green still in the box. You know that’s where it would stay too, but grandpa would use it—ding ding!
Your family could do just one gift per person this way or do all of the gifts this way.
Not only are you saving money, but you are also decreasing your carbon footprint on the environment: score!
Excuse me while I go and raid my closet.
5. Spend Christmas at a homeless shelter
Speaking of feeling materialistic how about taking just one year off and volunteering at the local homeless shelter?
Practice the true spirit of giving by donating your time to others, those will be the best places to spend Christmas. Remind you and your family of the blessings you have.
Bring gifts to give too.
This could be one of the most meaningful Christmases yet.
After all, one of the most significant themes of Christmas is, in fact, giving.
So if you and your family want a break from the usual festive mayhem, or if you all just want to shift gears this Christmas, consider one of these non-traditional family Christmas ideas and remember to take lots of pictures.