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Christmas (literally, the Mass of Christ) is a holiday in the Christian calendar, usually observed on December 25, which celebrates the birth of Jesus. According to the Christian gospels, Jesus was born to Mary in Bethlehem, where she and her husband Joseph had travelled to register in the Roman census. Christ's birth, or nativity, was said by his followers to fulfill the prophecies of Judaism that a messiah would come, from the house of David, to redeem the world from sin. Early Christians celebrated more the subsequent Epiphany, when the baby Jesus was visited by the Magi. Efforts to assign a date for his birth began some centuries later. The precise chronology of Jesus' birth and death as well as the historicity of Jesus are still debated.
Last Updated - 1st December 2005
In predominantly Christian countries, Christmas has become the most economically significant holiday of the year, and it is also celebrated as a secular holiday in many countries with small Christian populations. It is largely characterized by exchanging gifts within families, and by gifts brought by Santa Claus or other mythical figures. Local and regional Christmas traditions are still rich and varied, despite the widespread influence of American and British Christmas motifs through literature, television, and other media.
"Christmas" is a contraction of "Christ's Mass", derived from the Old English Cristes mæsse. It is often abbreviated Xmas, possibly because the letter X resembles the Greek letter ? (Chi), which is the first letter of "Christ" as spelled in Greek (???st?? [Christos]).
The story of Christmas
Joseph and Mary with baby Jesus, at "the first Christmas"The story of Christ's birth has been handed down for centuries, based primarily on the Christian gospels of Matthew and Luke. The gospels of Mark and John do not address the childhood of Jesus, and those of Matthew and Luke give somewhat differing accounts, Luke's being closest to the public impression of the Christmas story and the version most often read in Christmas services.
According to Luke, Mary learned from an angel that she was with child, by virtue of impregnation without intercourse by the Holy Spirit. Shortly thereafter, she and her husband Joseph left their Nazareth home to travel to Joseph's ancestral home, Bethlehem of Judea, to enroll in the census ordered by the Roman emperor, Augustus. Finding no room in inns in the town, they set up primitive lodgings in a stable. There Mary gave birth to Jesus in a manger, which has been translated in various ways, most commonly a feeding trough or stall. Christ's birth in Bethlehem of Judea, the home of the house of David from which Joseph was descended, fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah.
Matthew's gospel begins by recounting the genealogy and virgin birth of Jesus, and then skips to the coming of the Wise Men from the East to the home where Christ was staying after his birth in Bethlehem of Judea. This leaves ambiguous at whose home they were staying and whether Mary and Joseph were residents of Nazareth or, as their access to a home in Bethlehem suggests, of Bethlehem. The wise men, or Magi, first arrived in Jerusalem and reported to the local King Herod that they had seen a star heralding the birth of a king. Further inquiry led them to Bethlehem of Judea and the home of Mary and Joseph. They presented Jesus with treasures of "gold, frankincense, and myrrh". While staying the night, each Wise Man had a dream that contained a divine warning that King Herod had murderous designs on the child. Resolving to hinder the ruler, they returned home without notifying Herod of the success of their mission. Matthew then reports that the family next fled to Egypt to escape the murderous rampage of Herod, who had decided to have the children of Bethlehem killed in order to eliminate any local rivals to his power. When Jesus and his family returned to Israel, it was then that they settled in Nazareth, where they believed they might live more anonymously.
Another aspect of Christ's birth which has passed from the gospels into popular lore is the announcement by angels to nearby shepherds of Jesus' birth . Some Christmas carols refer to the shepherds observing a huge star directly over Bethlehem, and following it to the birthplace. The Magi, who Matthew reports seeing a giant star as well, have been variously interpreted as "wise men" or as kings. They are supposed to have come from Arabia, where they could have gotten their gifts of "gold, frankincense, and myrrh". Astronomers and historians have sought with varying success to explain what combination of traceable celestial events might explain the appearance of a giant star that had never before been seen.1
The major gaps in narrative details between Matthew and Luke, the absence of any reference to Christ's birth in the other gospels, and the fact that even the accounts of Matthew and Luke were written decades later, without confirmation by eyewitnesses, have led to much speculation about the accuracy of these reports. As one of the tenets of their faith, Christians accept the veracity of the story of Christmas, apparent difficulties reconciling the different versions of events notwithstanding.
Dates of celebration
Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Christians. Efforts to fix a date for the birth of Christ began some two centuries after his death, as the Catholic Church began to establish its traditions. Christmas is now celebrated on December 25 in catholic, protestant, and most orthodox churches. The Coptic, Jerusalem, Russian, Serbian and Georgian orthodox churches celebrate Christmas on January 7. This date results from their having accepted neither the reforms of the Gregorian calendar nor the Revised Julian calendar, with their ecclesiastic December 25 thus falling on the civil (Gregorian) date of January 7 from 1900 to 2099. The Armenian Church places much more emphasis on the Epiphany, the visitation by the Magi, than on Christmas.
Some scholars suggest that December 25 is a date of convenience chosen for other reasons, related to the time of Emperor Constantine. Prior to the celebration of Christmas, December 25th in the Roman world was the Natalis Solis Invicti, the Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun.
Dates for the more secular aspects of the Christmas celebration are similarly varied. In the United Kingdom, the Christmas season traditionally runs for twelve days following Christmas Day. These twelve days of Christmas, a period of feasting and merrymaking, end on Twelfth Night, the Feast of the Epiphany. This period corresponds with the liturgical season of Christmas. Medieval laws in Sweden declared a Christmas peace (julefrid) to be twenty days, during which fines for robbery and manslaughter were doubled. Swedish children still celebrate a party, throwing out the Christmas tree (julgransplundring), on the 20th day of Christmas (January 13, Knut's day).
In practice, the Christmas period has grown longer in some countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, and now begins many weeks before Christmas, allowing more time for shopping and get-togethers. It extends beyond Christmas Day up to New Year's Day. This later holiday has its own parties. In some instances, including Scotland's Hogmanaywhich occurs at the New Year it is celebrated more than Christmas.
Countries that celebrate Christmas on December 25th recognize the previous day as Christmas Eve, and vary on the naming of December 26th. In the Netherlands, Germany, Scandinavia, and Poland, Christmas Day and the following day are called First and Second Christmas Day. In many European and Commonwealth countries, December 26th is referred to as Boxing Day, while in Ireland and Romania it is known as St. Stephen's Day.
Customs and celebrations
An enormous number of customs, with either secular, religious, or national aspects, surround Christmas, and vary from country to country. Most of the familiar traditional practices and symbols of Christmas, such as the Christmas tree, the Christmas ham, the Yule Log, holly, mistletoe, and the giving of presents, were adapted or appropriated by Christian missionaries from the earlier Ásatrú pagan midwinter holiday of Yule. This celebration of the winter solstice was widespread and popular in northern Europe long before the arrival of Christianity, and the word for Christmas in the Scandinavian languages is still today the pagan jul (=yule). The Christmas tree is believed to have first been used in Germany.
A house decorated for Christmas in Yate, EnglandSince the customs of Christmas celebration largely evolved in Northern Europe, many are associated with the Northern Hemisphere winter, whose motifs are prominent in Christmas decorations and in the Santa Claus myth.
Santa Claus and other bringers of gifts
Gift-giving is a near-universal part of Christmas celebrations. The concept of a mythical figure who brings gifts to children derives from Saint Nicholas, a good hearted bishop of 4th-century Asia Minor. The Dutch modeled a gift-giving Saint Nicholas around his feast day of December 6. In North America, English colonists adopted aspects of this celebration into their Christmas holiday, and Sinterklaas became Santa Claus, or Saint Nick. In the UK, whilst this name is widely known, "Father Christmas" is more common, and is also used in many West African countries. In the Anglo-American tradition, this jovial fellow arrives on Christmas Eve on a sleigh pulled by reindeer, climbs down the chimney, leaves gifts for the children, and eats the food they leave for him. He spends the rest of the year making toys and keeping lists on the behavior of the children.
The French equivalent of Santa, Père Noël, evolved along similar lines, eventually adopting the Santa image Haddon Sundblom painted for a worldwide Coca-Cola advertising campaign in the 1930s. In some cultures Santa Claus is accompanied by Knecht Ruprecht, or Black Peter. In some versions, elves in a toy workshop make the holiday toys, and in some he is married to Mrs. Claus. Many shopping malls in North America and the United Kingdom have a holiday mall Santa Claus whom children can visit to ask for presents.
A classic image of jolly old Saint NickIn many countries, children leave empty containers for Santa to fill with small gifts such as toys, candy, or fruit. In the United States, children hang a Christmas stocking by the fireplace on Christmas Eve, because Santa is said to come down the chimney the night before Christmas to fill them. In other countries, children place their empty shoes out for Santa to fill on the night before Christmas, or for Saint Nicholas on December 5. Gift giving is not restricted to these special gift-bringers, as family members and friends also bestow gifts on each other.
Timing of gifts
In many countries, Saint Nicholas Day remains the principal day for gift giving. In much of Germany, children put shoes out on window sills on the night of December 5, and find them filled with candy and small gifts the next morning. In such places, including the Netherlands, Christmas day remains more a religious holiday. In other countries, including Spain, gifts are brought by the Magi at Epiphany on 6 January.
One of the many customs of gift timing is suggested by the song Twelve Days of Christmas, celebrating an old British tradition of gifts each day from Christmas to Epiphany. In most of the world, Christmas gifts are given at night on Christmas Eve, or in the morning on Christmas Day. Until the recent past, gifts were given in the UK to non-family members on Boxing Day.
Christmas cards are extremely popular in the United States and Europe, in part as a way to maintain relationships with distant relatives and friends, and with business acquaintances. Many families enclose an annual family photograph, or a family newsletter telling activities of family members during the preceding year.
Christmas tree in a German home - Decorating a Christmas tree with lights and ornaments, and the decoration of the interior of the home with garlands and evergreen foliage, particularly holly and mistletoe, are common traditions. In North and South America and to a lesser extent Europe, it is traditional to decorate the outside of houses with lights, and sometimes with illuminated sleighs, snowmen, and other Christmas figures.
The traditional Christmas flower is the poinsettia. Other popular holiday plants are holly, red amaryllis and Christmas cactus.
Municipalities often sponsor decorations as well, hanging Christmas banners from street lights or placing Christmas trees in the town square. In the United States, decorations once commonly included religious themes. This practice has led to much adjudication, as opponents insist that it amounts to the government endorsing one particular religious faith.
Social aspects and entertainment
In many countries, businesses, schools, and communities have Christmas parties and dances during the several weeks before Christmas Day. Christmas pageants, common in Latin America, may include a retelling of the story of the birth of Christ. Groups may go carolling, visiting neighborhood homes to sing Christmas songs. Others are reminded by the holiday of man's fellowship with man, and do volunteer work, or hold fundraising drives for charities.
On Christmas Day or on Christmas Eve, a special meal of Christmas dishes is usually served, for which there are traditional menus in each country. In some regions, particularly in Eastern Europe, these family feasts are preceded by a period of fasting. Candy and treats are also part of the Christmas celebration in many countries.
Candy canes are a popular Christmas treat, and may double as a decoration or Christmas ornament
Religious customs and celebrations
The religious celebrations begin with Advent, the anticipation of Christ's birth, around the start of December. These observations may include Advent carols and Advent calendars, sometimes containing sweets and chocolate for children. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services may include a midnight mass or a Mass of the Nativity, and feature Christmas carols and hymns.
Other faiths have emphasized their own winter holidays to serve as a Christmas surrogate, including Judaism's Hanukkah, which has evolved a similar tradition of gift-giving. Christmas has some acceptance in the Islamic world, where Jesus is regarded as a prophet. Many secular aspects of Christmas are becoming common in developed Muslim nations.
Christmas Gift Giving Ideas
- Letters to Secret Santa - In the holiday spirit and want to play Secret Santa? Each year, the United States Post Office receives thousands of letters to the jolly old elf. These letters are answered by charities, post office volunteers or anyone who wants to help make a child´s holiday wishes come true. Each post office is different, so you will need to ask about the Santa letters. If your local post office participates, simply pick up a letter or two and buy one or more of the gifts the child has asked for. Return them, unwrapped, to the post office and let them do the rest. A great way to make a child´s holiday brighter!
- Books as Cheap Christmas Gift Ideas - Everyone loves a good book. Visit bookstores, antique shops, hospital resale shops and other book sales throughout the year to shop for the right Christmas gift giving idea for that somebody special. You can pick up books, usually quite a few for a small amount of money, to give as gifts. At antique shops or flea markets, keep your eyes open and you just might find a classic or a rare edition of the favorite book of someone on your list.
- Christmas Candles - Christmas candles make excellent Christmas decorations. They can also make excellent Christmas gifts. You can buy candles in any shape, color or scent to fit the personality of the person you´re buying for. Or you can make your own and put them in any container you choose. Some ideas for candle containers include champagne glasses, margarita glasses, canning jars, decorative bowls and much, much more.
- Buy Your Family and Friends a Unique Christmas Gift Idea - If your family is all grown up or you older relatives are hard to buy for because they already have everything they need, try one of these Christmas gift giving ideas: 1. Buy them tickets to their favorite events. 2. Purchase gift certificates for their favorite restaurant and enjoy a family night out. 3. Plan a large family vacation. Stuff stockings with brochures or items from that region. Then enjoy each other´s company later in the year.
- A Homemade Christmas Gift Idea - Shipping Cookies to Warm Climates - For a homemade Christmas gift idea, if you´re sending cookies to Aunt Irma in Miami, here are some tips to keep in mind. Stay away from jelly-filled and iced varieties which will stick together and become a sloppy mess. Avoid at all costs chocolate chip cookies and candies which will more than likely melt.
- A Christmas Celebration Scavenger Hunt - These Christmas ideas and tips works especially well for most-wanted items on a child or adult´s wish list. Let them open all of their other presents first. As they try to hide their disappointment, hand them a clue. You´ll need to set this up in advance. Each clue should lead them to another and eventually to the coveted gift.
- Ideas for Christmas Gifts - For Christmas gift giving ideas, give a gift that the whole family can enjoy together. Buy a group of tickets for a sporting event, a broadway show, a figure skating exhibition or a musical concert. You can buy them all at once with your credit card and get a major gift out of the way for several people. Plus, this is a gift you can savor after the stress of the holidays is through.
- Removing Price Tags - Christmas Gift Wrapping - Ever get frustrated trying to remove those sticky price tags? Here´s some handy Christmas ideas and tips. Just apply the warm air from your hair dryer to the area and the tag will peel of with ease!
Christmas Planning - Advance planning is the key to a smooth and happy Christmas.
- Make a list - Avoid a stressful supermarket scrum by planning ahead. Make a list and try to buy non-perishable items on a normal shopping trip in advance.
- Festive brainstorm - Brainstorm all the jobs you need to do, then put them on your noticeboard. Mark them off as you do them, or add if required. Have a countdown with final dates too, and always give yourself an extra day to get everything done.
- Shop online - Buy your children's Christmas presents online. By shopping online there's no way they can see their presents!
- Homemade advent calendar treats - Get your children involved with the Christmas experience by digging out all the child-friendly utensils such as small wooden spoons and Christmas biscuit-cutters. Spend an afternoon making little edible goodies to go into the advent calendar.
Christmas Gift Wrapping Tips
- Stock up on plenty of $1 ornaments (or better yet buy them at year end clearance sales). Try to find themes that correspond with your recipients´ interests and hobbies. Instead of costly bows, tie or glue an appropriate oranament to your packages. If you really want to get creative, you can write the recipient´s name in permanent marker on the ornaments and use them as nametags for Christmas as well.
- If the shape of your gift´s box gives away its contents, try using the practical joker method of wrapping Christmas presents. (This works best for small gifts.) Wrap your gift, then keep putting it into consecutively larger boxes, wrapping each one as you go. Your recipients may become exasperated, but the look on their faces is worth the effort involved.
- If you have a family full of snoopers you can outwit them. Instead of adding Christmas nametags while wrapping Christmas presents, wrap each person´s gifts in a different kind of paper. Only you know the color scheme. So, if someone finds gifts early, they´ll never know which ones are theirs.
- Do Christmas gift wrapping as you buy them so you´re not stuck doing them all at the last minute. To keep prying eyes from knowing what is what, mark initials or a secret code in an inconspicuious spot. Only you will know what gifts are for whom.
- Use plain white paper. Buy sponges at any hardware or craft store, or cut the shapes yourself. Dip the sponges in paint - any colors you wish - and apply to the paper. You can decorate the paper with many colors, shapes and patterns. This is a wonderful way to create a unique and special Christmas gift wrap.
- If you´re giving edible treats follow these directions (especially if your packages will be travleing through the mail):
- Make sure cookies are thoroughly baked so they don´t stick together.
- Wrap each cookie in plastic wrap or wax paper.
- Crumple wax paper or bubble wrap between the layers of your containers.
- If you don´t have cookie tins, recycle coffee cans.
- If sending through the mail, surround the containers completely with crumpled newspaper or packing peanuts. Allow no room for jarring.
- There´s nothing worse than discovering you´ve run out of gift tags while doing last minute Christmas gift wrapping. Mix 2 parts white glue with 1 part household vinegar. Add your favorite flavoring to taste. You can use a liquid flavoring. Cut out pictures from Christmas cards, magazines or computer printouts, apply two coats of the mixture, allowing to dry between coats. Just lick and stick. Voila, instant stickers, gift tags, address labels, etc.
Christmas Trees Tips
- Firs, notably Fraser and Noble Fir. They are beautifully shaped trees with enough space between branches to hang garlands and ornaments.
- You should measure your space to determine how tall the tree can be, as well as how wide. Also, measure the trunk opening in your tree stand to make sure the tree you buy will fit easily into the stand. Learn more about Christmas trees on this page.
- Trees like to be cool and moist so avoid placing them near heating vents or radiators. Trees in front of window are nice at night, but the tree can sometimes look sparse with the light behind it during the daytime. Don't place a tree in a natural pathway in a room where it might be bumped, but rather in a corner, alcove, or more protected location whenever possible.
- Most experts recommend grasping a branch and pulling the needles with medium pressure between your fingertips. If the needles stay on the tree, then it's probably fresh. Also, look at the needles and branches -- they should be glossy, green, and flexible. If the tree looks stiff, brown, or dry, then choose something else. To get the freshest tree, cut it yourself at a tree farm. Help a tree stay fresh by making a fresh cut just before placing it in your tree stand, and make sure the stand is always filled with water.
- Make sure you check the water level of your tree several times a day for the first week. Never let the water reservoir dry out and your tree should last through the holiday season.
- Set up the area where the tree will sit with a piece of plastic or water drip tray to protect flooring. When you get your tree home make a fresh cut of at least 1 inch off the bottom of the trunk. Immediately set the tree into a bucket of room temperature water in the corner of a cool garage or patio. If your tree is wet or filled with snow be sure to let it dry out before bringing it into your home. To help your tree last longer, spray it with an anti-transpirant liquid and let dry before bringing the tree indoors. Next, set up the tree stand and install it onto the tree. Fill the water reservoir about half full of water while you level the tree, then fill it full of water once it is in the final location.
- There are several innovative ways to make sure a tree stays as fresh as possible. The first is an easy-to-use spray-on anti-transpirant liquid to reduce moisture loss in trees. Simply spray onto the needles, let it dry for an hour or so, and bring your tree indoors to decorate as usual. Also, there are some great new ways to keep a tree watered.
- The order of decorating a tree is this: Lights first, garlands next, ornaments and special touches such as holiday nosegays last.
- Pine boughs displayed out of water will generally last a week or two (depending on their original freshness and how dry your home is). Refresh greens used on mantles or table displays at least once in December. You can keep extra boughs in a bucket of water in a cool location and use them to replace decorative greens as they dry out. To keep greens longer, simply arrange them in blocks of florist's foam (Oasis that is thoroughly soaked and kept wet). Treating boughs with WiltPruf spray should also help them last longer.
- The lights you use should be UL rated for your purpose (outside or inside). LED (Light Emitting Diode) holiday lights are the newest type, offering superior energy efficiency and over 100,000 hours of bulb life.
- White or multi-colored lights are traditional, but many other colors are available. Be aware that some red lights can look pink when lit. Also, blue or purple lights may look a bit muted on a tree. Finally, when you're in the store, compare the length of the cord (spacing) between each light bulb. Choose the sets that have shortest spacing between each bulb, since more lights (and less cord) will show on your tree.
- Keep light strings wound around cardboard tubes (such as paper towel rolls). Or wind each string onto a flat piece of sturdy cardboard about 12" x 15" with the plug end secured into a slit. You can also "stack" every other bulb into one hand, making loops. Near the end, wind the final foot or two of cord around the middle of this bundle, securing the plug under the last loop of cord.
- Fragile glass ornaments should be stored in their divided cardboard containers or in specialized ornament storage boxes that come with divided sections. Special, one-of-a-kind ornaments can be wrapped in acid-free tissue paper then into envelopes of bubble wrap. Set them into small crush-proof boxes (such as plastic shoe bins available in housewares stores). If you hang ornaments from thread or ribbon loops you can pile any non-fragile ornaments into a box without protecting them from one another. However, if you use metal ornament hooks (which can sometimes rust), either remove the hooks for storage, or try to keep the hooks from touching other ornaments to avoid rust marks.
- Call your city or county recycling or waste disposal operator for local regulations regarding Christmas tree disposal. Some cities also offer chipping services which turn trees into mulch. Due to sap levels in fresh trees, most tree experts advice that they never be burned in your fireplace.
- Tie generous ribbons to chair backs, candlesticks, picks in plants, wreaths, garlands, basket handles, drapery tie-backs, stair railings, and doorknobs.
- Bows look festive and the ribbons you choose should tie together with the rest of your decorating. Sponsored Links
- Choose ribbons in colors and patterns that coordinate with your decorating scheme.
- You don't have to stick with red and green. Choose plaids or florals that tie in. If you can't find anything that looks quite right, then choose metallic silver, gold, green, or red.
- Choose a ribbon that you can untie and re-tie each year. This will save money in the long run, and you'll end up with a good collection.
- When the holidays are over, untie the ribbons and press them lightly. The bows won't get crushed and the ribbons will be ready when you want to take them out the next year.
- Use holiday tableware for every meal in December.
- Look through your cupboards and get out any dishes that look festive.
- Discount stores often carry seconds of name brand china, as well as fun designs that are not so common.
- Start a set of holiday dishes with dinner plates that coordinate with your everyday dishes. Add new pieces each year, like salad plates and mugs. Be sure the pattern you select will be continued from year to year.
Buy 1 or 2 place settings each year. Before long, you'll be able to serve a feast.
- If you're adventuresome, choose a different pattern and one place setting each year. Arrange the different dishes around the table and get lots of comments and rekindle memories. When they're not in use, the dishes can be displayed around the room.
- Turn off the lights and Arrange lots of candles on the dining table and dine by candlelight, even if you're just having leftovers. Every meal will feel special.
- Burn a fire in the fireplace each evening and encourage family members to gather around and read, do homework, write Christmas cards, or snooze.
- Arrange pillar candles in your bathroom, on the sink or around the tub. Take time to soak and enjoy! If you have little children in your home, you should be very careful with candles around the house. Always have an adult in the room.
- Put a wreath or swag on every door you have. Of course, start with the front door to welcome guests.
Go on to the back door, inside and out. Remember over the mantle, and in all your front windows. Don't forget bedroom doors, inside and out.
- Use real pine, holly, or grapevine, decorated with bows, berries, fruit, pinecones, raffia, ornaments, birds, photos, or candy.
- To keep wreaths year after year, buy artificial wreaths that will last. Remember, you'll need room to store them!
- Don't even think about not putting up the perfect Christmas tree.
- Drape garlands, either real or artificial, on railings, over mirrors, on the top of armoires, and along the mantle.
- Use ribbons and ornaments to put wonderful color around your home for this special season.
- Whenever you're home, turn on a CD or the radio and listen to Christmas music.
- Tie some sleigh bells onto the front door, and listen to the cheery welcome.
- When you go into your children's room in the morning, wake them with jingling bells or a jolly "ho, ho, ho".
- Check the schedules ahead of time so you don't miss the Christmas specials on TV. Make it a family time to share these wonderful shows.
- Collect the classic movies with Christmas themes, such as "A Christmas Story", "It's a Wonderful Life", "Scrooge", or "The Santa Clause".
- Prepare a bowl of fresh fruit or holiday cookies to put out as soon as guests arrive.
- Bake little loaves of tea breads and wrap them in holiday wrap. Set them in a pretty basket for decoration, then take one when you go visiting and give one to guests who visit your home.
- Make a wreath with candies tied on. Have a small scissors handy to cut off candies for guests.
- Fill a pretty basket with traditional candy canes and set it on the coffee table or entry table.
- Make or buy a gingerbread house for decoration and snacking.
- Put goodies in your guestroom to make your house guests feel really welcome.
- Use leftover greens from your Christmas tree to make a few quick arrangements in simple bowls.
- Place a simple arrangement in a bookcase, on the bath sink, on the kitchen window sill, and on occasional tables.
- Pile pine cones with ornaments and bows in a bowl or basket.
- Gather sprigs of holiday greens together with a bow and hang them from the inside of your windows.
- Decorate your bathroom or kitchen with a small poinsettia.
- Collect branches of evergreen and make a simple swag for your bedroom doors.
- Tie evergreen sprigs onto candles with a pretty ribbon. Add colorful, small ornaments.
- Sprinkle artificial snow across your tabletop or buffet or on house plants.
- Place shiny ornaments in a clear glass bowl or vase.
- Embellish indoor plants or trees with shiny ornaments.
- Plan a time in the day when the whole family is home to open the doors of an advent calendar.
- Make a ritual of lighting the Christmas tree each evening.
- Remember friends or acquaintances who cannot go out and offer a small, decorated Christmas tree.
- Make a family time of preparing Christmas or holiday cards, taking a family picture, and addressing the cards.
- Offer to help a friend who cannot do this task alone.
- By keeping things simple, you'll find that you can enjoy the season, the lights, and the traditions with family and friends without getting tired out in the process.
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