21 Ways to Get Into the Holiday Spirit

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“Christmas isn’t a time for hating.  That’s what all the other days are for.” – Grouchy Smurf, A Christmas Carol

Bah, humbug! … you might say.

If you give me 5 minutes, I’ll try to help you find your holiday spirit.

If you’ve lost your sense of wonderment and possibility, now is a great time to refresh, renew, and rekindle your holiday spirit and your holiday habits to inspire yourself and others.

If you’re discouraged and you think all is lost, don’t focus on what’s lost or what’s past, focus on what’s before you. Don’t dwell on the train you missed.  Instead, catch the next train.

Also, remember that change can happen in an instant.  In fact, Tony Robbins has a technique he calls The Dickens’ Pattern.  It’s based on how Ebenezer Scrooge was able to change a lifetime of habits overnight,

Above all, remember that the holiday spirit is about giving not getting.

So, if you wonder why you’re not getting it, you’re probably giving all wrong

Here are 21 ways to get into the holiday spirit …

1. Change what the holidays represent to you.

Do you remember the scene from Peaceful Warrior where they are walking up the mountain?  Socrates has something to show Dan at the top of the mountain, and Dan is full of anticipation and full of excitement.

Finally, Socrates shows Dan what he wanted to show him.  A rock.  An ordinary, plain and simple, and boring rock.

But it wasn’t about the rock at all.

It was all about the anticipation.

Many things in life are about the anticipation.

Don’t throw your anticipation away.

If all the holidays mean to you are commercialism, consumerism, and stress, then look inward and change what it means to you.  As the saying goes, focus on what you control, and let the rest go.

It could just as easily mean a great time of the year to create a little more peace, spread a little more goodwill, and share a better version of yourself with the world.

If you’re not sure how to do that, model from the people you know that do this well.  Some people really know how to embrace the holiday spirit and their enthusiasm is contagious.

Let it rub off on you.

2. Celebrate your own way – off the beaten path.

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” –  Ralph Waldo Emerson

One of the best ways to enjoy anything better, is find your way of doing it.   Take a cue from Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.”   This might be as simple as doing your shopping at odd times, taking the back way or the scenic route.

This can be tough if you have years of tradition, habits, and social cues beaten into you, but if celebrating the holidays the way you think you are *supposed* to celebrate them isn’t working, then change your approach.

Giving yourself permission and daring to be different might seem awkward at first.  But, if you truly connect to your values in an authentic way, you might just quickly find that your holiday spirit will soar to new heights.

Take this chance to breathe new life into your holiday habits.

Who knows, you might just help show others a new way to live.

3. Make a to do list of things to accomplish.

imageIt’s so easy for the holidays to come and go.   Make it a point to at least glance at your local events calendar to see if anything tickles your fancy.   I was amazed by how many things were going on in my local area.

Luckily, I got to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “The Last Christmas Eve.”  It was the most incredible show of fire and ice I’ve ever seen, and they are an incredibly unique rock-opera band that knows how to shake things up for the holidays (where else would you see dragons and angels and tigers and more.)

I was also lucky to catch one of the last Christmas dinner cruises on the lake.

But there’s a lot I missed that I didn’t know about in time, because I didn’t take a simple look ahead.

A simple list would have helped me plan and remember a few things.

Here’s an example of my short-list of To Dos for the holidays:

  1. Family / friends
  2. Attitude of gratitude
  3. Service
  4. Tree
  5. Music (create a playlist with some old songs and some new)
  6. Lights (check out the best displays around town)
  7. Stories (listen to or read inspirational stories)
  8. Movies / Shows (A Charlie Brown Christmas)
  9. Drinks (Check out the holiday hits at the local coffee shops and restaurants)
  10. Go see A Christmas Carol as a play.

4. Get in touch with your family and friends.

What a great time to let people know you are thinking of them, and that they have made an impact on you in some shape or way, great or small.  People like to know they matter, and they especially like to know that they matter to you.

5. Express your attitude of gratitude.

People aren’t mind readers (well, some are.)   You might be thinking about how much your grateful, but now is a great time to remember to show it.   You can say it with just a few words.  That’s all it really takes.

If you are having a hard time practicing your attitude of gratitude, then really slow down and embrace the process.   Sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.  By remembering what’s gone, it can be a great reminder to really savor what you’ve got now.

When you really are truly grateful for the gifts that you have in your life, not only is it a firm foundation, but it has a funny way of multiplying.

6. Start a new tradition.

A friend of mine got in the habit of sending out Christmas cards.  It’s his way of remembering and connecting with the people in his life.  It’s simple but effective, and it’s now his tradition.

Growing up, I had a few traditions.  Somewhere along the way, I added wearing a Christmas hat, just before Christmas.   It’s not much, but somehow it became a little ritual that I enjoy each year.  And it’s fun trying to find a hat that’s a little different.  This year, I found one with antlers.

Nobody really stops you from starting a new tradition, a new routine, or a new ritual.

Just you.

7.  Listen to (or read) inspirational stories of hope, magic, and miracles.

There are so many real-world stories.  The kind that pluck at your heart strings.  The kind that rekindle your hope.  The kind that remind you what life is all about.  The kind that remind you just how generous and kind a human being can be.

In fact, there are so many that you would think that it would be easy to browse great collections of these.  Sadly, I find it’s more of an exercise of digging around.   The best holiday stories are usually the ones I hear from Delilah Rene on her radio station around the holidays.

But that actually leads to an interesting exercise.  What if you were to go and find 3, 5, 10 or whatever of the most touching, the most moving, the most inspiring holiday stories from real people?

That might just be the thing to help you find your holiday spirit in ways you never imagined or thought possible.

Stories inspire us to new possibilities.

8. Check out the holiday lights.

Some people really go to town.  I love it.  Especially, since I don’t do much.  Instead, I get to really appreciate the master pieces that some people put together.  I know that for some people this really is their highlight for the year.  The lights are a reflection of their holiday spirit and they want to share it with the world, in their way.

9.  Watch holiday movies.

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One of my favorite ways to get into the holiday spirit is to watch some Christmas movies.  Here are a few of my favorites:

  • A Christmas Carol
  • A Christmas Story
  • Bad Santa
  • Elf
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • Miracle on 34th Street
  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
  • White Christmas

I was lucky that my local theater ran a Classic movie series that included White Christmas, Elf, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and It’s a Wonderful Life, all on the big screen.

I don’t know how it does it, but geeze, It’s a Wonderful Life works every time.

For more ideas, check out my post What 25 Holiday Classics Teach Us About Life and Fun.

10. Watch holiday cartoons, Claymation, and Muppets.

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Whether reindeer really know how to fly, or an abominable snowman can put a star on the top of a giant Christmas tree without a ladder, each of the specials has their own way of reminding us that the holidays are a great time for connecting and caring.  Here are a few of my favorite holiday specials:

  • 8 Crazy Nights
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas
  • A Flintstones Christmas Carol
  • Christmas Comes but Once a Year
  • Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas
  • Frosty the Snowman
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  • Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol
  • Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  • Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town
  • The Muppet Christmas Carol
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • The Simpson’s Christmas Special
  • The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol
  • The Year Without a Santa Clause

If you’ve never seen Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas, you’re missing out.

For more ideas, check out my post What 25 Holiday Classics Teach Us About Life and Fun.

11. Listen to your favorite holiday songs.

imageAnother great way to rekindle your holiday spirit is to play your favorite holiday songs.  And that’s just it, play YOUR favorite holiday songs.  You don’t have to depend on the radio.  In fact, a great exercise is to revamp your playlist or create a new playlist that has the songs you really want to hear.

Here are a few of my favorite holiday songs that always remind me reminisce:

  • Believe (The Polar Express)  – Josh Groban
  • Blue Christmas – Elvis Presley
  • Carol of the Bells – Trans-Siberian Orchestra
  • Chanukah Song – Adam Sandler
  • Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire – Nat King Cole
  • Christmas Eve – Trans Siberian Orchestra
  • Christmas Time is Here – A Charlie Brown Christmas
  • Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy – Trans Siberian Orchestra
  • Do They Know It’s Christmas? – Band Aid
  • Feliz Navidad – Jose Feliciano
  • Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer – Elmo and Patsy Trigg Shropshire
  • Happy Holidays – Andy Williams
  • Hark! The Herald Angel Sings
  • Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Frank Sinatra
  • Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Neil Diamond
  • Holly Jolly Christmas – Burl Ives
  • I’ll Be Home for Christmas – Bing Crosby
  • I’ll Be Home for Christmas – Elvis Presley
  • It Came Upon a Midnight Clear – Josh Groban
  • It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas – Bing Crosby
  • It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year – Andy Williams
  • Jingle Bell Rock – Hall & Oates
  • Jingle Bell Rock – Neil Diamond
  • Joy to the World – Neil Diamond
  • Little Drummer Boy – Bing Crosby & David Bowie
  • Little Drummer Boy – Neil Diamond
  • O Christmas Tree
  • Oh Little Town of Bethlehem – Elvis Presley
  • Please Come Home for Christmas, The Eagles
  • Rocking Around the Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee
  • Silent Night, Holy Night – Johnny Mathis
  • Silent Night – Josh Groban
  • Silver Bells – Johnny Mathis
  • Sleigh Ride – Amy Grant
  • Sleigh Ride – Neil Diamond
  • So This is Christmas – John Lennon
  • The 12 Days of Christmas – Straight No Chaser
  • The Christmas Song – Nat King Cole
  • The First Noel – Johnny Mathis
  • The First Noel – Josh Groban
  • The Most Wonderful Time of the Year-Andy Williams
  • We Three Kings
  • White Christmas – Bing Crosby
  • Winter Wonderland – Johnny Mathis
  • Winter Wonderland – Neil Diamond
  • Wonderful Christmastime – Paul McCartney
  • You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch

12. Enjoy Christmas television.

imageWhatever your favorite TV show is, chances are they have some holiday episodes.  You can also flip back in time and watch some of the older TV specials.  Here are a few examples:

13. Watch plays for the holidays.

There’s something special about a live performance that can really take your holiday spirit to the next level.

Here are a few holiday plays that do a good job of lifting our spirits:

  • A Christmas Carol
  • The Nutcracker

I make it a point to watch a Christmas Carol play in some shape or form each year.   I actually enjoy watching local productions.   Some people really get into their parts and really live it.

My most memorable version though is when I saw Tony Randal (the guy from TV’s The Odd Couple), play Scrooge.  He had an energy and zest that I just haven’t seen in very many people.  I gained a new level of respect for him after that performance.

14. Read books with holiday stories and holiday themes.

There are so many books to choose from and you can find the ones that float your boat.  Whether you want more science fiction or more holiday thriller, or more tear jerkers, you can find them.

A while back, I started a habit of trying to find  a new audio book each year to listen through during the holidays and it works great for mini-road trips, too.

Here are a few to get you started:

15. Reminisce.

Take a walk down memory lane.  There’s nothing like a collage of memories and little vignettes to help you rekindle your holiday spirit.

When I flip back through Christmas’s past, the following little flashes come to mind:

Watching Christmas specials with a big tub of freshly popped Popcorn.
Christmas eve dashes to different friends and family, and each one, a truly different experience.
My Mom taking my sister and me to see Santa and telling him all the crazy kid stuff I wanted, and sometimes got.
Santa’s bear looking fake, and having a little give in it, when I gave it a little tug.
Going up the stairs when I was 4 to see a tree all lit up like Lite Brite.  At the top was a mechanical signing bird that I loved, but drove my Mom nuts.

Sneaking down the stairs early in the morning with my sister to see if we could figure out what was inside, without waking Mom and Dad.

Hearing Willie Nelson echo through the house singing his Christmas songs.

Wondering how the heck Santa got the freakin’ bike down the chimney.  There’s no way it fit.

Going on a Dunkin Donuts run on Christmas morning to pick up munchkins, when I could finally drive.  It was my big contribution to the morning feast.

Going to my friend’s house on Christmas day for Christmas brunch, then sleeping it off the rest of the day.

16. Live more.

This is one of the times of the year where you really have a bit of freedom to be a little different or a little more you, if you choose to.

Try some new things.

Change your ways that aren’t working.

Brighten your day, by helping other people smile brighter.

17. Learn more.

You’d be surprised what happens around the world during the holidays.   There’s a lot going on, and all sorts of traditions and history.

It’s fascinating.

Fascinate yourself with the ways of the world and maybe adopt a new holiday habit that inspires you.

18. Laugh more.

You know, Ho, Ho, Ho, and all that jazz.

You don’t need a belly full of jelly to embrace a deep belly laugh.

All you need to do is let yourself laugh a little more.

Maybe checkout a local comedy show, or your favorite comedy classics.

Whatever you need to spread a little more cheer, and a little less jeer, go for it.

19.  Love more.

Love is a powerful thing.  Love shapes your experience every time.

Challenge yourself to spend your days in more loving ways.

If you need a quick refresher on the spirit of love, explore these love quotes.

20. Do Service.

How inspiring is it to know that while you may not be able to help yourself in all the ways you want, you might be able to help somebody else in all the ways that matter.

There is no shortage of people needing help.

Now is a great time to share your unique gifts in the service of others.

21. Help others find their holiday spirit.

This is perhaps the great way of them all, and it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Help somebody you know, or somebody you don’t, live more, laugh more, or love more.

Somehow, helping somebody else’s fire burn a little brighter, helps our fire burn a little brighter, too.

Well, what are you waiting for?

You’ve got some holiday spirit to get into, and help others get into it, too.

Happy holidays to you and yours!

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Good words J.D.

    Thank you so much for sharing. In the last 5 years, I have changed nearly everything about Christmas. I just do the Children’s favorite things. They do all the presents, if they want to, and I do all the cooking, if I want to. They love cross-country skiing for several days and I can not – so I read a book just for fun and walk, and walk and walk the dog – enjoying the lights and natures bounty. It just works for us and allows for change to just flow.

    Today I am writing a review of a painting, because it just touches me in a very wonderful way – A gratitude celebration…now that feels just right.

    You always share such good ideas and make such good suggestions. Thank you for sharing.

    I just wanted to say one more thing: Nov 20th little Simon was born at home during the night, and Dec 10th Josie was born across the street – Grandparents and relative have flown in and are celebrating these lovely new creations. The energy is high and joyful surrounding our home. I also think God used a pretty amazing marketing tool sending a newborn and a star into this landscape.

    Just holding each babe in turn sent the release the old skyrocketing. Such hope
    Peace to you and please keep writing these mind expanding posts 🙂

    • “mind expanding posts” … I like that.

      It sounds like you’ve got your holiday routines down in a way that works for you. Way to go.

      And, what luck having some new bundles of joy to help the holidays shine a little brighter.

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