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How to celebrate a non-traditional Christmas

Naomi de la Torre is freelance writer and stay-at-home-mom with two delightful boys, ages three and six. Naomi has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona, is a self-proclaimed salsa diva, and can make a killer octopus ...

Create your own holiday traditions

Christmas can be a good time of year to make a point about excessive consumerism, Hallmark holidays and the way that “traditions,” such as chopping down trees, are bad for the Earth.

So, what alternatives are there for families who are looking to celebrate a bit differently?

Truth be told, considering that Americans spend over $400 billion a year on Christmas, with 60 percent going into credit card debt to afford presents and 78 percent admitting that they believe Christmas has become too materialistic, it is understandable that some people would like to create holiday traditions in their own families that aren't based on consumerism and unnecessary waste.

Below are five fun and creative ideas for your next non-traditional holiday season.

1

Upcycle your holiday gifts

Don't spend money on buying everyone in your office presents that just get pitched into the re-gift bin anyway. Make fun holiday-themed crafts out of old clothes, out-of-date ornaments, or even broken Christmas lights.

2

Donate your Christmas

Instead of buying the kids a bunch of toys they don't need and will forget about by the time Christmas Day is over, choose to make a special contribution to a charity this holiday season. Use the holidays to teach your kids about charity. Let the children help you pick the charity and if possible, choose one that has a related activity in which your family can participate. For example, make a donation to the local children's hospital and plan a visit to the playroom where your family can lead a craft with the in-patients. This is a great way to teach your children about the meaning of giving in a tangible way they can really understand.

3

Learn about a different religion or culture

Take the time to learn about Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Las Posadas Navidenas. If you have a friend from a different religious or cultural background, ask if you can attend their holiday festivities this year. If not, look in your local city guide and see what cultural celebrations and festivals are open to the public.

Learn about Christmas traditions around the world >>

4

Around the world traditions

Pick a country and research their holiday traditions. You will be amazed at how different traditions are from place to place. For example, in Argentina, Christmas means barbecue, fireworks and a big party on Christmas Eve with everyone opening gifts at midnight, even the little children.

5

Choose to have a live Christmas tree this year

A new trend among the ecologically-minded, live Christmas trees have all the festivity of the cut ones, but none of the waste. In order to ensure the tree's survival, keep your tree outside as long as possible, only putting it on display inside for a few days. Decorate the tree with beautiful lightweight crafts and ornaments, but make sure not to use Christmas tree lights, or the tree could come out of its dormant state and will not survive the planting.

More holiday traditions

Christmas traditions around the world
The importance of Christmas traditions to kids
Christmas food traditions

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