For many of us, childhood memories of Christmases or any of the seasonal holiday celebrations are fondly remembered as magical and carefree times. Perhaps you too have noticed, as an adult, that those memories are all to often being replaced with huge doses of exhaustion and anxiousness?


Last week we overheard this conversation between a parent and a teacher in the school office. They were sharing plans for the upcoming winter break. One replied, “Oh, I’m ready for the break part. I’m just not ready for the holiday.” The other quickly replied, “What break? With so much to do, there is no break!”

The Christmas season is supposed to be a relaxing, enjoyable, and fun time with friends and family. However, many of us overcommit, overload lists, overspend, and overeat. In general, we wear ourselves out emotionally and physically. Some even refer to this joyous holiday as “Stressmas.”

Gift Reversal

So how would you like to use a creativity thinking tool to bring back a good measure of peace, gratitude, and happiness to the season? Sounds too good to be true? You can make it so. Here’s the holiday tradition we implemented with our older children. Each year we gave them an envelope with $100 dollars to spend on themselves. Inside was a message of love saying we can’t wait to see what you pick to surprise us with at Christmas. It soon became a competition to see who could buy themselves the most gifts.

Patti and I have continued this tradition now that our children are grown and have families of their own. On Christmas morning we open each other’s gifts, savoring the joy and humor each unwrapping brings. The surprises have included a sock drawer organizer, Magic 8 Ball, new lace curtains for the doll house, and our favorite (most interesting gift) so far - an orange rabbit’s foot to bring Bronco luck! Rick is winning the competition for most gifts so far - 13!


This reversal of gift giving is part of the SCAMPER creative thinking tool. The “R” provokes “Reversed” or “Rearranged” thinking outcomes. Here’s a graphic organizer you can use to teach SCAMPER to your students or children. It’s a tool we call upon frequently as it has unlimited applications.

Garland Lists

Some of our favorite keepsakes from Christmases long ago are the drawings and handmade decorations our children made. This year our daughter-in-law took this a step further and had our grandson and granddaughter draw their Christmas wish list and arrange it together as a garland to decorate their rooms. We share this tip with you as another way to express creativity around the holiday season for more memory making. That’s Ella, our 6-year-old granddaughter pictured above holding her garland wish list.

Wishing you a holiday season filled with good food, good friends, and a bunch of good creative moments. We invite you to turn Christmas around and make it a relaxing Samtsirhc holiday this year!

Creativity Tip of the Week

Reversing your thinking can bring unexpected joy and happiness to any occasion.

 The Most Important Thing

  • Creativity helps, even in the little things
  • Out-of-the-box thinking can de-stress the holiday
  • Children’s creativity is a precious gift to share and cherish
  • Financial smarts and budgeting can be taught along with holiday surprises
  • SAMTSIRHC can become a fun new holiday tradition

Thanks for reading.

Our goal is to help as many parents and educators as we can. If you know of others interested in parenting and teaching with and for creativity please forward.

Remember, stressed spelled backwards = desserts!