40 Non-Traditional Ways to Celebrate Christmas - Backyard Boss
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40 Non-Traditional Ways to Celebrate Christmas

We often talk about traditions around the Christmas season, but the usual traditions aren’t necessarily right for everyone! If you’re not feeling the holiday spirit this year, it may be time to shake things up a little. Whether you’re ditching the traditions entirely for something new or adding a little twist to your celebrations, we’ve got you covered!

In this guide, we’re going to look at several non-traditional ways to celebrate Christmas ranging from unique decorating ideas to ways that you can give back over the holiday season. Breathe some life into your festivities and reconnect with the magic of the holiday season this year.

Trade-In Your Tree and Decorate Something New Instead

The wooden ladder decorated with Christmas lights
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Is the idea of decorating a Christmas tree not sounding as exciting this holiday season? Maybe it’s time to trade in the traditional tree for something fun and unique. With a little imagination, you can transform any item into a holiday centerpiece for your living space. This year, consider decorating a ladder, a shelving unit, a coat rack, or even a dining chair. Incorporate the holiday vibes by hanging ornaments, draping garland, or stringing Christmas lights. Don’t forget to place your gifts around the bottom, whether they are for you or someone else.

Plan a Vacation Over the Holidays

Christmas card
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Pack your bags and celebrate this holiday season somewhere new. Do you have a favorite resort or holiday spot? Rather than waiting until the summer months roll around, turn your Christmas break into a memorable vacation. Sure, the first image that comes to mind of Christmas likely doesn’t involve sandy beaches and sunshine, but there are many people who celebrate the holidays without the snow. You can incorporate a traditional meal from your destination for your holiday feast, or plan ahead to make a festive turkey dinner a reality wherever your travels take you.

Do a Fun Holiday Photo Shoot with the Whole Family

family of five at Christmas photo shoot
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If you have children, then you know that time flies and it won’t be long before you’re trading in sticky chocolate-covered fingers for smartphones and driving tests. This is why it’s so important to make memories while your kids are still young. This holiday season, set aside some time to document this time in your lives together with a fun photoshoot involving the whole family. If the traditional posed holiday photos aren’t your style, try something new and creative. For example, take photos while outside building a snowman or in the middle of an epic snowball fight.

Get Outside and BBQ (Even in The Snow)

BBQ during the winter
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Do you enjoy grilling? There is something special about food that has been cooked over an open flame. If that’s your ‘happy place’, take your holiday meal prep outdoors this Christmas. Grilling can be a year-round activity with a little careful planning and preparation. Clear a space to set up your grill that’s easy to get to from the house. If you’re concerned that the heat from the grill won’t be enough, you can also include a propane patio heater to keep you warm and toasty or set up a small sheltered space nearby that you can retreat to.

Try Something New

Handmade christmas decoration
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Celebrating the holiday season doesn’t have to be just about parties and family gatherings. In fact, if you choose to opt out of some of the festivities this year, you will find that you have a lot more time to explore things that you enjoy during the holiday break. This is a great time to pick up that new hobby that you’ve been wanting to try. Try your hand at a new craft, learn how to play an instrument, or learn a new language. Whatever it is, choose something that you are going to enjoy.

Book a Holiday Spa Treatment

Spa Treatment with Christmas Decorations
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Another great way to prioritize some ‘me time’ this holiday season is to book a holiday spa treatment. While some people make the spa a regular part of their routine, many of us save this type of pampering for special occasions and events. What holiday is more ‘special’ than Christmas? Right? Book a massage or get a festive manicure. If it’s not in the budget to head out to the spa, you can set up your own spa day at home by drawing a relaxing bath, lighting some candles, and pouring yourself a glass of wine. Include whatever features make you feel relaxed and at ease.

Turn Up the Tunes and Do a Holiday Deep Clean

House Cleaning at Christmas Time
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It’s not uncommon for our houses to look a little cluttered following the holiday season. The combination of more people coming through the house for parties and gatherings, the clutter that comes from decorating and Christmas presents, and the lack of time that many of us feel when trying to keep up with all the festivities can lead to us slacking a little on the housework front. If you’ve decided that you’re over the constant go, go, go of the holidays and plan on spending some more time at home, it’s the perfect opportunity to turn this all around. Turn on the music and crank your favorite tunes. Not only will you cross a task off your to-do list, but you’ll also feel much better relaxing afterward in your clean and tidy space.

Gather Around a Holiday Bonfire

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If you and your family love spending your free time outdoors, enjoying the fresh air and the beauty of nature, this is a great way to celebrate the holiday season. Clear away enough snow to bring the family around your backyard fire pit and light a holiday bonfire. Huddle in close to stay warm from the heat of the fire, roast marshmallows, or enjoy a hot cup of coffee. With the sun setting earlier in the day, you will have plenty of time to enjoy the beauty of the starry sky above you while the peace that comes from a quiet winter’s night helps you to let go of any stress you may be carrying.

Put Together Holiday Cheer Kits for the Homeless

Volunteers collecting donations at Christmas
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Take a moment this holiday season to consider those that may be struggling. There are many people across the country that aren’t going to be putting up Christmas trees or gathering with family. Instead, they are simply doing the best they can to survive the bitter cold. Make a difference this Christmas by putting together Holiday Cheer Kits for the homeless in your area. You can incorporate a little Christmas cheer by packaging your gift in a festive holiday-themed bag but focus more on the items that will bring some comfort to these individuals including toiletries, warm socks, and gloves. If you have enough people coming together to take your giving to the next level, you can pair your Holiday Cheer Kits with a warm meal.

Come Together for A Holiday Crafting Party

Christmas craft
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Are you feeling creative this holiday season? Call up your friends and plan a fun and festive crafting party. You can gather in the late morning for brunch and crafting or push your plans later in the day to tap into your creativity over a bottle of wine. If you’re looking for a way to incorporate some more traditional holiday elements, turn on your favorite Christmas music or craft while watching a holiday movie together. Provide all the supplies needed for everyone to make their own Christmas ornament or host a BYOC (bring your own craft) party and find out what everyone is currently working on.

Set Up a Hot Cocoa Bar

Christmas holiday hot cocoa bar
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What is the holiday season without hot chocolate? A hot drink to keep you feeling warm despite the winter wonderland outside, it’s a go-to for many of us leading up to Christmas. This year, why not make your hot chocolate the central focus? Set up a full hot chocolate bar complete with different toppings, flavor additions, and (of course) festive mugs. This can be done as a celebration all on its own, one that your family will love, or set up as part of a bigger event like a festive holiday party or a backyard bonfire.

Host a Holiday Video Party to Overcome Distance

Mature Friends Talking via Video Chat
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With everything from school to live music concerts moving online over the last couple of years, we’re all getting used to embracing social distancing in everything that we do. While we agree that it isn’t quite the same as gathering in person, the many video chatting programs that we have started to use in our daily lives are a great solution for those who have friends and family at a distance. Celebrate the holiday season by planning a video party, bringing everyone together regardless of where they live. This can include ugly Christmas sweaters, Christmas music, or even opening your gifts from one another online (if you ship them in advance).

Shovel Snow or Lend a Hand in the Neighborhood

Snowman Holding Shovel
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The Christmas season is supposed to be a time of spreading joy and holiday cheer. One easy way to do this is to lend a hand to those that could use a little help. If you’re heading out to clear your driveway after the latest snowfall, consider tackling the driveways of a couple of other neighbors nearby. Is your neighbor fighting with putting up their Christmas lights? Offer a helping hand, even if it’s just to hold the ladder steady while they make their decorating vision a reality. The smallest acts of kindness really can make a world of difference in someone else’s life.

Throw A Holiday Fundraiser for Those in Need

Holiday Fundraising
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Another great way to make a difference this holiday season is to host a festive fundraiser. This is a great option for those who are interested in throwing a party but aren’t sure about the traditional Christmas festivities. Plan a large Christmas-themed gala or opt for something simpler on a smaller scale. The options are endless. There are so many charities and organizations that would greatly benefit from the extra funds during the holiday season, a time where they are often feeling strapped to keep up with the demands. This includes soup kitchens, homeless shelters, food banks, animal rescues, and more.

Join in on a Santa Run

Santa Run - Father Christmas group running
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A Santa Run is a fun race where participants are encouraged to dress in Santa Claus costumes before running. While this is a ‘race’, it isn’t one that is generally taken seriously. The people running it aren’t hyper fixated on hitting a new personal best. Instead, they are gathering for a fun holiday celebration while also bringing a little holiday cheer to everyone that they encounter along the way. Many Santa Runs are even organized to benefit a local charitable organization. Another alternative that you may also find around the holiday season is the Reindeer run with participants dressing up as Santa’s reindeer.

Go On a Holiday Road Trip

Road Tripping Girls at Christmas Time
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Have you been planning a big road trip with friends or family at some point soon, when your schedule allows? Rather than waiting for ‘someday’, why not pack the car and hit the road during your holiday break? You can make a run for somewhere warmer, leaving the snow and ice behind you for a Christmas celebration on the beach. On the other hand, if you believe that the dream Christmas is celebrated in a Winter Wonderland, you may prefer a destination that is known for an abundance of snow.

Try Winter Camping

Winter Camping
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Outdoor adventurers, this one’s for you! This holiday season, consider trading in your decorated homes and lavish holiday meals for a winter camping experience. Winterproof your travel trailer or RV to spend some time at your local campground or go all the way, packing a tent for your non-traditional Christmas celebration. There are many campgrounds that stay at least partly open through the winter months with heated bathrooms available if you’re concerned about that aspect. Stick to a single night if you’re new and unsure whether it’s something you will enjoy or hunker down for a longer-term stay if you feel up to the challenge.

Skip Gifting Altogether and Play Holiday Games

Playing Games at a Christmas Party
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For families that get together to celebrate every holiday season, the stress of shopping for everyone can take away from the true meaning of the holiday season. This is especially true at a time like now when many people have experienced job losses or reductions in the number of hours that they are working. Don’t let the commercialized side of Christmas ruin your holiday celebrations. One great way that you can celebrate is to skip gift-giving altogether. This doesn’t mean canceling the get-together. Instead, gather for a time of good company and fun holiday-themed games.

Hit the Gym to Burn Some Christmas Calories

Christmas Fitness Concept
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If you’re looking to get a jump start on your New Year’s resolutions, why not celebrate the holidays by heading to the gym to take part in a festive workout. You can throw on your favorite festive music to motivate you or hit the treadmill while watching a holiday movie. In some larger cities, there are even Christmas-themed workout classes at this time of year, encouraging those interested in working out by bringing everyone together in a group class while also injecting a little holiday magic into the mix.

Get Outside for a Snowball Fight

Snowball fight
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There are a few activities that are a necessity the moment that you see a fresh snowfall has coated the yard. Gather your friends (or your enemies, depending on how intense this is going to get) and start an epic snowball fight. Build a fort to hunker down or take your chances running through the yard. You can split family and friends into teams, keeping score each time that someone has been hit, or declare every man for himself. At the end of the day, you can all gather inside for a cup of hot chocolate as you warm up.