Having the holiday blues? Not really excited? Art Of Manliness has provided us with 11 ways to letting in the sights, sounds, and tastes of Christmas and getting into the holiday spirit.
1. Turn on the holiday tunes. Nothing gets you in the holiday spirit faster than music. Once you hear those familiar notes, those same strains you’ve been singing along with since you were 5, the warm and fuzzy Christmas feelings come rushing back. But to have maximum effect, you’ve got to listen to the good stuff, the classics. And sing along. Because as Buddy the Elf has wisely instructed us, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.” Here’s one of my favorite:
2. Watch some old school Christmas movie. My holiday tradition with my family is to watch Christmas movies. We’d watch movies from the late 90s, early 2000s. It’s been years since I’ve seen some of these movies, but thanks to the wonders of YouTube, I’m able to recapture a piece of my childhood. Here is one of my favorite:
3. Make some hot chocolate or eggnog. The edibles of Christmas are an integral part of what makes the season special. So take time to whip up and savor a seasonal beverage like hot chocolate or eggnog. Make a roaring fire in the fireplace, settle into your man chair, pick up a good book, and sip on a tasty drink.
- 3 cups (700ml) whole milk
- 1 cup (240ml) heavy or double cream
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1 vanilla bean pod, split and seeds removed
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for garnish
- 5 eggs, separated
- 2/3 (130g) cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup (175ml) Bacardi Dark Rum, or bourbon
4. Throw a holiday party. If you’re a single guy and/or far from home, it can be hard to get in the holiday swing of things. One way to force yourself to go whole hog into the season is to throw a party. Planning the food, decorations, and tunes will thrust you head-first into the holidays. And the party will warm your spirit with the company of friends and family.
5. Watch more Christmas movies. You’ve seen them a million times, but they never fail to pull at the heart strings. Here are my go-to films for getting a dose of the Christmas spirit:
- It’s a Wonderful Life
- A Christmas Story
- A White Christmas
- National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
- A Miracle on 34th Street
- Peanuts’ Christmas Special
6. Read some Christmas classics. Every Christmas Eve some families would gather round and read some classic Christmas books together. The Polar Express and A Night Before Christmas are some old-time favorites.
“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.” ~Roy L. Smith
7. Look at Christmas lights. Nothing quite puts the Christmas magic back in your heart like Christmas lights. Ordinary houses and trees are transformed into something extraordinary. It’s seeing the Christmas lights that lets you know it’s a special time of year. Drive around town and check out the neighborhood displays. Also be sure to check out the massive displays that are sometimes put on in parks by community organizations, where you can walk around in a winter wonderland of millions of lights.
8. Put up a tree. If you’re single or childless, it’s hard to get motivated to really deck the halls. But a spartan apartment or dorm room is perhaps the single greatest sapper of holiday spirit. Throw up a few strings of lights and boughs of holly. At the very least, put up a tree; it will bring the sights, lights, and smell of Christmas to your abode. Get a real tree that will give off that all important scent of pine. If you don’t have the room or money for a real tree, get one of those mini trees. Decorate it with some tiny ornaments. Sounds a little silly, but it’s important to go through the ritual even in miniature. I’ve got a little tree lit up on my desk, and I tell ya, it really helps.
9. Plan a romantic holiday-themed date. To me, the closest thing to the magic you felt as a kid around Christmas, is the romantic feeling you get from sharing the holiday with someone you love. The magic comes back when you’re experiencing old traditions with a lady by your side. So plan a festive date: take a sleigh or horse drawn carriage ride, go to an outdoor skating rink, look at the lights, and then make some cocoa and snuggle by the fire.
10. Go see A Christmas show. Some have argued that our modern idea of Christmas really began with Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. It’s a story that never gets old and never fails to lift and inspire one’s spirit. The theater in every town of appreciable size will put on A Christmas Carol during the holidays. Go and see the show. It’s the kind of human story that’s made for live action theater. My favorite is the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
11. Do Service. Of course all of the above are simply a means to an end, that end being a warmed heart, a spirit that melts away the cynicism and primes the heart for a renewed sense of generosity. If you’re not feeling jolly this holiday season, the easiest way to change that is to do some service for someone else. Shovel the driveway for the old lady next door, volunteer at the soup kitchen, or anonymously leave a donation for someone in need. Here are some ideas below:
Christmas Gift Drive – Organize a Christmas gift drive to provide needy families with gifts on Christmas day. Task seem a little daunting for your small family? Then why not ask other families in your neighborhood, church, school, or play group to get involved. Check with your local social services, churches, synagogues, or mosques for a list of families in need.
Homeless Shelters and Soup Kitchens – Donate food or supplies to your local homeless shelter or soup kitchen. Check the local yellow pages for homeless shelters and soup kitchens in your area.
Helping the Elderly – Volunteer to mow lawn or shovel snow for an elderly person in your community. Check with your local senior citizens center or place of worship for a list of people in need.
Visit a Nursing Home – Visit a local nursing home in your community. Many elderly in a home enjoy playing games, talking, or listening to a good book. Be sure to call the nursing home in advance to make arrangements for how your family can best help.
Special Olympics – Volunteer at the next Special Olympics event in your area. Events in your area as well as information on the Special Olympics organization can be found at specialolympics.org.
Help the Animals – Children love animals, so why not use this interest in animals to help out at your local Humane Society by donating your time or supplies (pet food, old blankets).
Backpack and School Supply Drive – Organize a backpack and school supply drive to help needy kids in your area. Check with your local social services organizations or place of worship for a list of kids in need.
Charity Carnival – Looking for a unique and fun idea for your next family volunteering effort? Then a Charity Carnival may be right for you. Plan a carnival for your backyard complete with carnival games, refreshments, and prizes and afterwards donate all the proceeds to your favorite charity. Invite friends from your neighborhood, place of worship, and your children’s classes by printing up flyers (indicating which charity the carnival is for) and charging a set fee for entrance. You can set up a ticket booth and give guests tickets to use for the games and refreshments.
Support a Local United Way Charity – Use the United Way website to find a volunteer opportunity in your neighborhood. Simply type in your zip code!
Volunteer together as a family. Helping others in need can bring about an incredible sense of pride and fulfillment within people. So why not use these feelings of pride and accomplishment to help build lasting family ties and memories.
Talk about the importance of giving. Family dinners are a great place to have casual conversations about giving to others in need and to plan the next family volunteer event.
Talk or read about heroes and what it means to be one. Heroes can be someone at a local, national, or international level. Talking and learning about heroes helps to inspire family members to do great things with their skills and talents.
Establish a Family Giving Box and make it a habit to donate regularly.