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How to Get the Most Out of Christmas

Weeks ago, at the beginning of November, stores already had Christmas decorations on display. I know those stores are just trying to get the most out of Christmas season. But it’s too early at that point for me to think about Christmas.

get the most out of christmasFor me, December 1st officially starts my holidays. That’s because I know that in the 31 days of December, my family will attempt to cram more into each 24-hour period than is usually desired. For me, the annual cramming revolves around two specific lists – my December To-Do List and my Present Wish List.

The To-Do List for December is very important. It’s filled with kid activities, social get-togethers, Christmas programs and of course shopping. Additionally, home chores are also part of the To-Do List. So, because I’m a teacher, I get a “vacation” during Christmas break which gives me a greatly needed window to do these activities and catch up on all that I’ve let slip by.

The other list – the Present Wish List – is all about what I would like to receive on Christmas day during our annual gift exchange. This one is a little tricky and here is why.

There might be 365 things I could say I want. But really there are only 5-8 I would feel comfortable asking someone else to purchase for me. That’s because the price is too high or I’m scared they will get the wrong style or brand. Some years, this wish list becomes more of a regrettable chore to compile than something I enjoy doing. Anyone else have this experience?

So the question for me then becomes, “How do I get the most out of my Christmas wish lists?” How can I maximize my return during the Christmas season and more importantly on Christmas morning?

Changing the Narrative

I’ve thought a lot about this over the years. The older I get the more convinced I am that what I’m about to say is true. If you want to get the most out of Christmas so that you feel very satisfied when January roles around, there is only one thing to do.

You can feel fulfilled by shifting the narrative by one simple word. Instead of thinking and saying the word get, say…


Your Christmas, my Christmas, anyone’s Christmas should be about giving.

Related Content: A Christmas Memory that Still Challenges Me to This Day

Don’t get me wrong – I love to receive. But different zones in my brain are activated when I give. And they go into overdrive when I see people really appreciate what I do for them.

The pleasure of giving goes deeper than the pleasure of receiving. It makes me feel better. And that feeling stays with me longer, ultimately giving me more long-term satisfaction.

Get the Most Out of Christmas by Giving

Why do the rewards of giving last longer? I think there are some clear reasons why. Let’s look at a comparison between the two.

When you receive a gift, it: 

  1. May actually fulfill a specific need. (in which case, I am truly grateful)
  2. Most likely fulfills a want. (but that want is a fleeting desire because I always end up wanting more)
  3. Could create feelings of obligation to the giver. (I feel like I owe them something because this gift was so awesome)
  4. Strengthens the desire to want other stuff. (I’m deprived because I didn’t get that one thing on my list.)
  5. Nudges me to desire better. (wishing I had gotten the 18-volt electric drill, not the 12-volt)
  6. May create feelings of disappointment. (see numbers 3, 4 and 5 above)

But when you give a gift, it: 

  1. Shows others you care about them by being in tune with their needs.
  2. Encourages you the giver for being kind.
  3. Tells the receiver “I value you.”
  4. Stifles selfishness as we place our focus on others.
  5. Requires sacrifice of resources.
  6. Brings internal and eternal blessings that can’t be measured.

I believe the above giving principles are 100% true, given just one caveat – motive.  You invalidate everything that was just listed in the giving category if you give for the wrong reasons.

Related Content: Giving for the Wrong Reasons This Christmas (Or Anytime)

Enjoy this holiday season to the fullest. Have fun with your holiday To-Do List and your Present Wish List. They will bring you great fulfillment. But remember, to get the most lasting benefit out of Christmas, you have to give.

Leave a Comment or Answer a Question Below: What do you do to get the most out of Christmas time? Do the holidays ever frustrate you? How has giving impacted your life?

Image credit by Alena Ozerova at Shutterstock

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  1. Julianne Gondy says

    sorry, but what’s your last name? I need to cite your article.

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