Ideas for a better Christmas

I hope your new year is off to a great start! We’re back to work, back in school, and clinging firmly to our resolutions (or celebrating defiantly)!

While the holiday celebrations are still fresh in my mind, I thought I’d share some suggestions for having a better, more thoughtful, less stressful Christmas season in 2012.

Better holiday gift-giving

* Host a “Secret Santa” gift exchange (with a top dollar amount) instead of exchanging gifts with everyone on your list. It will take the pressure off buying a lot of gifts (and spending a lot of money), while encouraging more thoughtful and personal gifts. I’d love to do this in my family, but so far people are resisting the idea. 

* Get crafty with gift wrap. Wrap gift cards in a restaurant take-out menu or a page from the store’s catalog, instead of buying gift card envelopes. Use children’s artwork to wrap small gifts, instead of buying wrapping paper. Use recycled bags for larger gifts, instead of buying gift bags.

A better ‘Iolani Palace

* Decorate the grounds with floral arrangements, elegant Hawaiian quilt patterns, or kahili (feathered standards) in keeping with the majesty of the Palace. If lanterns are a must, use simple white lanterns strung between the trees on the grounds, instead of the bright red, green, and striped lanterns. 

A better Honolulu City Lights

* Consider transforming the Electric Light Parade into a Solar Light Parade, and hold it in the late afternoon. It will reflect our commitment to alternative energy, showcase our beautiful Hawaiian flowers and artists, and allow us to see the people in the parade in the daylight.

* Invite children to design a Honolulu City Lights commemorative ornament. They could even turn the winning ornament artwork in different age categories into a set of notecards. 

* Publicize a request that Electric Light Parade attendees leave their strollers in the car. This will make it easier and safer to walk on sidewalks, especially after dark, without running over toes or creating pedestrian bottlenecks.

Better holiday spirits at schools

* Start a Christmas tree decorating contest. Each school could choose a theme, create hand-made ornaments, and share their creativity with other schools. Last year,Ward Centers hosted a Christmas Tree Decorating Contest  for Hawaii intermediate and high school students, but I think it would be fun for elementary students too – and a great way to encourage art in school.

* Show kids that we appreciate their generosity. Last year, Ma‘ema‘e Elementary School hosted a holiday assembly, complete with a visit from Santa, as part of a toy drive for the Lokahi Giving Project. Other schools are low-key, quietly accepting toy donations; but I think it’s better to thank kids for their giving. Students shouldn’t be required to participate; but if money is a concern, students could raise money or volunteer as a class.

How can you make the holidays better this year? What changes would you make around town to improve the holidays?

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2 Comments on “Ideas for a better Christmas”

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