For many of us, childhood memories of Christmas, or any of the seasonal or cultural holiday celebrations, are fondly remembered as magical and carefree times. As adults, we’ve noticed taking on all the “getting ready” can sometimes fill up those memories spaces with huge doses of exhaustion and anxiousness. Taking time to design annual family creative activities can be one way to make more room for play and relaxation.


Schools can become a center of hustle and bustle. That “look forward to” break can feel like a time when creativity is also put on hold. 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, and soon symptoms of “Stressmas” appear.

Gift Reversal

How would you like to use a creative solution to bring back a good measure of peace, gratitude, and happiness to the season? Sounds too good to be true? Here’s a 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 bought yourselves. They actually bought and wrapped their own gifts! We’ll all be surprised on Christmas morning. And a huge side benefit: No one was disappointed and there were no returns! 

Now that our children are grown with families of their own, we have continued this tradition with ourselves. We purchase gifts for ourselves with the $100 spending limit. 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 a doll house, and our favorite (most interesting gift) so far – an orange rabbit’s foot to bring Denver Broncos good luck! 

Garland List

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.

For Your Classroom

Reversing your thinking can bring unexpected joy and happiness to any occasion. You might use these creative ideas with your own family or share them with the parents of your students.

Let’s Reflect and Remember . . .

  • Creativity helps, even in the little things.
  • Out-of-the-box thinking can de-stress the holidays.
  • 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!

“Stressed spelled backwards = Desserts!”

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!

Live, learn, and lead creatively.

Rick and Patti