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Christmas Family Gathering Ideas

As newly retired parents to three young adult children, we have decided as a family to reframe our Christmas into something more meaningful than gifts to us. Rather than buying and receiving expensive items that our young adult children can't afford (with college loans and life expenses), we are starting new traditions with our family. Maybe you might want to use one or two yourself!

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Here are some suggestions:
  1. Attend a religious or special ceremony, performance or event together that supports the family and meaning of this holiday and your community. It can even be a concert or children's Christmas Pageant.

  2. Put everyone's name in a box and draw out one name each. If the participants have any ideas of items they might like but wouldn't normally buy for themselves, they can write the item or items on the slip of paper as well. That way, the buyer will actually be buying something the recipient would need or want! We made a $30 limit on this gift, but you can make whatever amount youd like!

  3. Ask each person to also buy one small grab bag item anyone could use ($5 limit for us) and wrap it. You can make it a certain theme (house related or sport; whatever) *See the rules description below.

  4. Anyone is welcomed to bring or suggest a game to play during the holiday time together. Cranium is a fun grown up game that is interactive and is a lot of laughs for everyone! Scrabble, checkers or chess, Yatzhee and Uno or cards are other good choices. Remember, the real point is sharing fun time with the people we love! Have snacks throughout!

  5. Everyone is encouraged to bring any special foods, if they like to share. They can be snacks for during the games, appetizers, desserts or even side dishes for the meal you will share.

  6. If anyone plays an instrument and is willing, a family sing along with Christmas carols are wonderful! Even an instrumental CD would work to sing along with too. You could even make songs with your own words for real fun!

  7. When you gather to exchange the gifts, one person reads a Trivia Question (find them on the internet) Whoever answers correctly first gets to pick their gift from under the tree. Then they read the next question, and so on. It just makes getting your gift more game like and fun!

*To enjoy the grab bag, each person rolls a pair of dice. If they roll a 7 or 11 they choose one of the miscellaneous wrapped gifts and just hold on to it. When all the gifts have been taken, then you set a 2 minute timer and start rolling again. This time the 7 or 11 winner gets to TAKE a gift from one of the other players. You could make it the person's gift on the LEFT for a 7 and the person's gift on the RIGHT for an 11. If it's your OWN gift, you can choose to take the OPPOSITE side's gift. It's really just for fun and it won't come out evenly, which is why I suggest this for an adult game, not children. Of course after opening these small gifts, anyone can trade them around if desired.

We are still hanging Christmas stockings for all three of the kids (and a fiancé) where anyone can add anything special if they'd like. So parents can still get a low key way to give gift checks, gift cards or cash to help your young adults out without making them feel bad not having lavish gifts abound.

Personally, I told my kids that a gift to me could be a donation to mine or their favorite charitable organization (they can always use it!) or a donation of a food item for a food kitchen or local animal shelter.

I would also appreciate a handmade ornament with the current year's date on it for my tree. I especially like small framed photos of the family.

Happy Holidays Everyone! May you have a loving a meaningful time with your loved ones!

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November 22, 2012

The Christmas of 2005 was the best I can remember. That's saying a lot since my Dad had just died, and Mom was dying! Since my two sisters and I had our own families, it had been a long time that ALL of us would go to Mom's for Christmas.

Red Christmas ornaments on a tree bough.

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January 5, 2005

Because we now have 4 generations of relatives we hire a hall. We do this about the 2nd Sunday of December. That way everyone knows every year when to plan to celebrate.

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Questions

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October 14, 2009

At Christmas, my family usually all get together to celebrate. Our family is very multi-cultural, and this year, our house will be the gathering place. We have family members who are from India, who are Jewish, and African.

I know that in the past, we've only celebrated Xmas. I would like to be able to celebrate all, but I don't really know how to "integrate" everything in a smooth manner that won't offend anyone. Any suggestions?

By Brenda Burns from CA

Answers

October 14, 20090 found this helpful

Have you spoken to your family members to ask for ideas? They might be excited about celebrating other holidays beside Christmas and even be willing to pitch in to help make the gathering at your home extra special. What a lucky family to have so many holidays to celebrate!

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October 18, 20090 found this helpful

For the Jewish Hannukah holiday, the most recognizable symbol is the Menorah, which has 9 candle holders:
8 for each of the 8 days of Hannukah, and one in the middle which is the shamash ("helper or servant"), the candle used to light the other candles.
This year Hannukah is from sunset on Dec 11 to sunset Dec 19. Hannukah is spelled other ways too, like Chanukah or Chanukkah or Hanukah.

The menorah and the candles celebrate the miracle of light, when olive oil in the ancient temple was only enough for one day, but miraculously lasted 8 days.
Having a menorah up at Christmas time would be very appropriate and welcome.

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October 18, 20090 found this helpful

Your might consider having a holiday buffet dinner and have everyone bring their favorite family dishes to share with everyone.

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October 20, 20090 found this helpful

I would think that honoring everyone's traditions would not be offensive to anyone! Contrary to what you may have heard, most Jewish people don't mind if they are wished a "Merry Christmas", and most Christians don't mind hearing about and celebrating other traditions. Diversity is a good thing, so don't be overly sensitive, especially since you're trying to do a good thing by discussing and celebrating diverse customs. Have fun!

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October 14, 20180 found this helpful

Maybe you can do dessert from one culture, starters from another, sides from another, main from another. And ask the members to make the authentic dishes.

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