How to Make Christmas More Meaningful for Your Family
Tina Santiago-Rodriguez (The Philippine Star) - November 27, 2014 - 1:29pm

Christmas is just weeks away, and many of us have already started preparing for it by decorating our homes, buying presents, and maybe even planning for an out-of-town trip.

For some people though, Christmas preparations can be quite stressful, and may even take away from the joy and wonder of the season.

Don’t let that happen to you (and your family). Take the time to make this Christmas a truly meaningful one for you and yours. Here are some tips to help you out:

1. Start a special Christmas tradition.

Homeschooling is such a blessing to our family in so many ways -- one of which is that I get to learn about so many beautiful traditions associated with our Catholic faith. I especially love those that are related to liturgical seasons like Christmas and Advent.

Over the years, our family has made some of these traditions our own, and our Christmases have been so much more meaningful because of them.

For a list of meaningful Christmas traditions that you can start with your own family, try checking out this one by The Learning Basket. It contains most, if not all, of the traditions that we have, too -- although I must admit that on some years, we don’t get to do all of them.

2. Give gifts that give life.

After Super Typhoon Yolanda struck the Philippines last year, my husband and I decided to forego buying Christmas gifts for our family members and friends, and chose to give "gifts that give life" instead. These pertain to things that can help and bless other people, especially those who are in need.

Photo: Negrense Volunteers for Change Facebook page

When choosing to give such gifts, make sure you discuss things with your family, including your children, if you have them. Decide together as to whom you want to bless, and how you plan to do so.

For ideas on gifts that give life, you can refer to my posts here, here and here. Although all these posts are in honor of the Yolanda victims, you may be able to come up with your own ideas for gifts that give life.

3. Don’t give the usual toys for Christmas.

I’m not against toys per se but I sometimes wish that people would give our kids non-toy gifts during Christmas and other special occasions. Call me a "party-pooper" but I think that "less is more" also applies to children’s toys.

Having said that though, I must confess that our kids still have too many toys in our crowded little apartment! We still have a lot of de-cluttering and cleaning up to do.


If you want to give that special child in your life a gift that is "unusual" and more meaningful, I suggest you check out this list of Christmas gifts for kids. You might also want to consider giving the "gift of Science," especially if your child loves everything Science-related.

4. Put God and family first.

Fellow contributor Nancy Unchuan Toledo wrote a beautiful piece about the family a few years ago. Allow me to share with you my favorite part of her article here:

"In a country like ours, there is no need to remind people of just how important the family is. I am always humbled and amazed when people talk of the sacrifices they make for the families -- of the OFW husband, of the single mother who supports her 10 children, of the hardworking sibling who sends his younger brothers to school, of the feeble grandmother working in the market when she should have retired long ago. No, there is no need to make people aware of how much family should mean to us. That is something that is already engraved in every Filipino’s heart.

There is, however, a need for us to be reminded that we ought to make our families holy (or holier for some) -- that every family on earth ought to have the duty of being an extension of God’s family, that all of us are called to be a better parent or a better child or a better sibling or aunt or uncle, that by our birth we, too, are called to be a blessing unto others. Christ’s birth at Bethlehem was not only a gift of presence, it was also a gift of example."


This is what celebrations like Christmas are all about -- God and family. Let us never forget that.

5. Remember the Reason for the Season.

I know there are many people who may not agree with me, but I believe Christmas is all about celebrating Jesus. It’s about being grateful to Him for all our blessings, and sharing what we can with others.

Let’s make Christmas more meaningful for our children, and other people as well. Let’s take the words of Jose Mari Chan to heart:

Let's sing Merry Christmas and a happy holiday

This season may we never forget the love we have for Jesus

Let Him be the one to guide us as another new year starts

And may the spirit of Christmas be always in our hearts

How do you make Christmas more meaningful for your family? Let me know by leaving a comment below or sending me a message.

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