Sandra Magsamen, author of Living Artfully, shares creative and artful ways to keep the "happy" this holiday season.

  • Have a cookie-baking party. Supply ingredients and make cookies with your friends to give as gifts.
  • Create a breakfast tradition for your family and repeat it each year: banana-nut pancakes or cinnamon French toast. Make something that warms the heart and the tummy.
  • Adopt a charity or cause and give a gift that helps it succeed in its mission.
  • Donate gifts to a family in need. Make a Christmas dinner and deliver it to a family less fortunate than yours. Local churches often have a list of families that need a helping hand and a giving heart.
  • When it's time to trim the tree, play carols and serve cookies, make it a party. Do the same thing when it's time to put the tree and the trimmings away. Turn a chore into a pleasure. It's all in how you see it.
  • Instead of placing gifts in stockings, hide the gifts and tuck clues into the stocking about where the gifts are secreted away. Have the kids (or adults) go on a treasure hunt Christmas morning.
  • Purchase puzzles, card games and craft kits as gifts that you can have fun doing with the kids. You can even have your family photo made into a puzzle.
  • Have a gift-making day with your family. Knit a bright red scarf for grandma (this only takes a few hours), turn old CD cases into frames that work as coasters, or make personal stationery by cutting a special someone's initials from magazines or by using a stamp on colored pre-bought stationery. Teach your children and remind yourself that, when it comes to giving, it really is the thought that counts.


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