Santa and SavanaAre you caught up in the holiday race to see who can spend the most money and reap the most toys? If you have mistakenly found yourself dedicated to the consumerist side of the holidays you might be missing the boat.

What has been lost in this yearly drive to create joy via the purchase of consumer goods? It could be the idea that we need to take time to focus on friends, family and the greater meaning of love. As discussed in an article by Jeffrey Strain at The Street.com, the holidays can be experienced with extra meaning and focus by using and creating traditions which are not based upon the amazing shrinking dollar.

Try doing things together which don't cost wads of money. Make decorating your holiday home a family-wide tradition. Spend an evening watching movies as a family group after making a couple grocery bags full of real stove top popcorn. You could also make a huge pot of fondue or take a walk around your neighborhood.

Get into the spirit of giving by giving of yourselves. Challenge your family to get into the holiday spirit by dedicating some personal effort to making life nicer for someone else. Volunteer with local organizations focused on helping the financially challenged in our society. Get up, get out, and do some good works as a family.

Clean out the old toys before bringing in the new presents. This idea has merit from many angles. Teach your kids that useful items can be passed along when they are done with them while at the same time reducing clutter. Kids often get a special feeling of pride by knowing they put their old toy into the hands of someone who will appreciate it. Make a yearly household tradition out of moving the old toys along.

Give your kids the gift of financial responsibility and a sense of saving for the future. Make some of their gifts the types of things which can appreciate in value over time. Buy them a few shares of stock and teach them how the stock market operates or purchase some long term savings bonds for them.

When all is said and done, when they're over, not much remains of the holidays beyond the experience. Be sure you take time to make some good lasting memories. Have cameras at the ready and don't just settle for posed portrait photos. Candid shots are the most fun in the long run. Have the family engage in the making of memory albums and use the extra family help you have around to get your own photo album collection put together. Make a family time capsule and have the kids make individual time capsules of their own. Have everyone write down their personal thoughts for the rest of the family to share. Take some time to formulate a family holiday plan which puts gift buying lower on the list of things to do.

Let your holidays be about people, traditions and emotions. In the long run you'll get a lot more value from the season in this way.

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