Desperately Seeking Christmas: 10 Ways to Find the Christmas Spirit

I’ve finished my Christmas shopping, trimmed my artificial Christmas tree, and watched the Yule Log. I play Christmas music in the car, have Christmas lights burning outside, and I’ve stocked the fridge and pantry with plenty of treats.  But for some reason, this year, I can’t seem to get into the Christmas spirit.

I’m desperately seeking Christmas, and it appears to have drifted out of reach.

Why can’t I find the Christmas spirit? I don’t know, but I don’t think I’m alone.

I was at my knitting group at church and admitted to the others that “I just don’t feel in the Christmas mood this year.” Low and behold, the entire room chorused in with “Me too!”

Bah Humbug. I’ve done all the obvious Christmas preparation, but I think I’ll have to look harder to find the holiday magic.

But just because I can’t find the Christmas spirit doesn’t mean I’ll stop looking. And while I’d love to go do the Christmas tour of Biltmore House, I don’t want to spend a bunch of extra money. Here’s my 10 point plan for getting my holiday mojo back that don’t add much in the way of extra expense.

1. Wrap the Presents

My guest room runneth over in Amazon boxes and shopping bags, and beige carpet surrounds my Christmas tree.

Wrapping the presents both reduces the clutter and adds a festive touch to our family room. Plus, an evening of present wrapping (with the kid at her grandparents and a glass of wine nearby) is one of my favorite Christmas traditions.

If you need paper, tape, gift bags or ribbon, you can easily find them cheaply (and many other Christmas items) at your local dollar store.

Desperately Seeking Christmas: 10 Ways to Find the Christmas Spirit

2. Treat Your Nose

There’s a bunch of smells to Christmas, and since the ones in my house don’t include real Christmas trees, I’ll have to stick to the ones I can generate in the kitchen. And now that the Christmas countdown is hitting single digits, I think it’s time to kick off the baking. I’m hoping to get in touch with my childhood and the memories of my mom with the scent of cinnamon and vanilla.

On my agenda this year are:

  • Snickerdoodles
  • Oatmeal cookies with coconut, butterscotch and chocolate chips
  • Gingerbread cookies
  • Chai spiced cookies
  • Pecan Pie fudge
  • Cheese balls
  • fresh bread

I don’t know whether I’ll get to them all, but they should fill the house with the smells of Christmas spirit. Plus, they’ll make terrific gifts for family members and friends.

Even if you don’t bake or even cook, you can fill the house with holiday scents. Throw a cinnamon stick in a mug of cider and heat it in the microwave, or mull some wine in your slow cooker with fruits and spices. Or buy some cinnamon pine cones or some pine scented candles to fill your living room with seasonal aromas.

3. Read a Holiday Story

I’ve been reading a fair amount in the last couple of weeks, but none of it has been holiday-oriented. Much as i love WWII mysteries and comic fantasy, they aren’t reinforcing my Christmas spirit. So I think I’ll put the Ghost Train to New Orleans aside, and immerse myself in a literary Christmas. Yes, there’s classics like The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and A Christmas Carol, but there’s a number of other choices outside of the traditional ones. Here’s three of my favorites:

Hogfather, by Terry Pratchett: If you like satire, Terry Pratchett’s Discworld is hard to beat. When a gang of scoundrels tries to do away with the Hogfather before he can give away his toys and treats on Hogswatchnight, only Death can stand in.

The Twelve Spies of Christmas: A Royal Spyness Mystery by Rhys Bowen: Lady Georgianna Rannoch escapes her brother’s gloomy Scottish castle to help host a traditional Christmas in the English countryside. And then someone starts murdering their way through the 12 Days of Christmas. Downton Abbey fans will probably love Georgie’s romantic mysteries.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson: This story of when the “bad kids” take over the church Christmas pageant is absolutely delightful, and great to share with kids.

There are two others that might be a bit dark for my goal of getting in the holiday spirit but are still fun: Christopher Moore’s The Stupidest Angel and LambI think they are both hilarious and recommend them, but maybe not if you’re struggling with the season this year.

4. Clean the House

Doing a bit more cleaning has been one of my goals this month, and there’s a good reason: It’s hard to feel festive when the house is messy. So spend some time cleaning…scrub the bathrooms and baseboards, dust and above all get rid of some clutter.

If you find unwanted items, go ahead and make some donations to your favorite thrift shop before the holidays so they’ll have a few extra things to sell (and you’ll be able to claim that tax deduction.) You’ll need more room for all those presents anyway. You may even find some things you can regift.

5. Light Show

We love to bundle up into the car and go look at Christmas lights, and we haven’t done that this season. It’s an easy quick activity, and it’s on the agenda for this weekend.

6. Sing

I’ve been listening to Christmas songs for weeks, but it’s been a passive backgroundy sort of thing.

I think I need to do a little caroling. At the very least, I need to sing along with the radio, but actual caroling with a group would be better. Plus, it’s a great excuse to drink hot toddies chocolate. Whether you sing Jingle Bells, Silent Night, or Santa Baby, the act of singing can get you in the mood far better than just listening to your favorite holiday playlist.

7. Go To Church

Okay, not everyone is religious and not everyone religious is Christian, and if you aren’t Christian, feel free to skip this part and enjoy your holiday.

But if you are Christian, then Christmas is a time to explore your faith.

It’s good to remember the reason for the season. It’s not Santa Claus, although it is a gift. God’s gift to us. And that’s why we give to others, and that love should be the focus, though I often forget it.

So maybe increase your prayers, and reread the Christmas portions of the Bible. Attend a church service or two and focus at least some of your attention on Jesus’s birth and message, and maybe you’ll get a bit more in touch with the hope and love of the season.

8. Get Crafty

One thing I realized when I decorated the tree is that while I have a dozen or so ornaments that I made as a kid, none of Little Bit’s artwork adorns our tree.

We need to fix that.

Doing a Christmas craft can occupy your child, decorate your home and jumpstart your Christmas spirit, all at the same time. So spend a few minutes looking at all the holiday crafts on Pinterest and pick one. There’s tons of options that use things that you should have on hand.

9. Light a Fire

Christmas…light…warmth…hope. Those connections are ingrained in the DNA of the season. So in addition to lighting your Christmas lights, try adding a little fire to your home…without, of course, setting it on fire. Light a fire in the fireplace or burn a few candles and enjoy some safe cheerful winter flames.

Bonus points if enjoy your Christmas fire in fluffy pajamas, curled up under a blanket, and/or with eggnog in hand.

10. Give Something to Folks You Don’t Know

We still have Little Bit’s giveaway jar to count this year.  We need to make her charitable donation, and we’ve been remiss on our own this year. It’s time to give a little to our community, probably to the local food bank.

Find a good charity and support it. Whether you give goods or money, there’s a lot of need right now, and you’ll feel better for trying to help fill it.

Your gift doesn’t have to be large to help, and the emotional benefits you get from giving may be just as great.

Desperately Seeking Christmas: 10 Ways to Find the Christmas Spirit

Find the Christmas Spirit

So if you’ve completed all the regular holiday tasks and still aren’t feeling the Christmas spirit, don’t give up. Try a few of our 10 ways to reconnect with the joy of the season, and see if they help you find your warm holiday fuzzies this year.

Have you struggled with finding your Christmas spirit? What things get you feeling warm holiday fuzzies?

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24 thoughts on “Desperately Seeking Christmas: 10 Ways to Find the Christmas Spirit

    • It does! I’m hoping to start my baking tomorrow with the chai cookies. It’s supposed to rain all day, so it’ll be a good day to stay in and bake.

    • Yeah, we don’t normally exchange with our neighbors, but we have an elderly one down the street who has been feeling a bit ill and lonely. We took her down a card and balloon on her birthday (which was also my birthday) and I think we’ll take her some bread.

  1. I think I am still suffering the aftershock of the election. Not in the Christmas mood yet either. I have cleaned up the yard, decorated inside and out, and put up the big tree. However, it has no decorations as I desperately try to get a new manuscript to my publisher by midnight. I did, however, enjoy the two hour Saturday Night Live Compilation on TV last night. Something really stupid always puts a smile on my face. I will be making fruitcake this weekend, maybe that will do the trick. Or maybe we will discover the Russians totally orchestrated the election! That would really spread some cheer around our house.

    • The election may be part of it…if you’re keeping up with NC news, you know politics is still brewing its ugly head here. Good luck with your manuscript, Jayne.

  2. Thanks for all these reminders, Emily! We’ve got Christmas Town not too far away in McAdenville. We didn’t drive through it last year but I’d like to go next week. I’ll go to church Christmas Eve for the singing with my in-laws. I’m not Christian but I go anyway! (We just took them to the Billy Graham Library here in Charlotte this week and we all loved it.)
    Mrs Groovy recently posted…Personal Finance and EthicsMy Profile

  3. This Christmas season is a little stressful because we have school through the 23rd! I spent a lot of today helping kids at school choose a gift (donated by staff) for someone in their family. I am also a part of the Rockstar Community Fund giveaway – so I am putting together some gifts for two little girls in our school who don’t have permanent shelter (live in a bunch of different sketchy hotels). We are attending our annual “Holiday Lane” (we actually live on Holiday Lane!) Christmas party this weekend too – getting in the spirit as much as we can!
    Vicki@MakeSmarterDecisions recently posted…Giving Up My Goals To Focus On HabitsMy Profile

    • Oh, man, Vicki, I thought we were bad going through the 21st. The 23rd is ridiculous. How are those teachers going to get anything done with the hyped up kids?

      It does sound like you’re involved in a lot of worthy and festive activities, and i hope you have a merry Christmas.

  4. Oh Emily – I have been feeling this way too! I can’t even put my finger on everything, but definitely the election, feeling disconnected from my family, overall exhaustion and then learning that we are not getting bonuses at my company this year. My youngest threw a tantrum right as we were about to take a picture for our Christmas card the other night, so we could not take the photo. We were already so late, and I just said forget it, which then sent me down a spiral of anger, frustration and self loathing for not having dealt with the Christmas card sooner. And then self-loathing for not being happy when my children are healthy and I have nothing to complain about compared to 99% of humanity. I am working so hard today on shaking everything off. Today is my work from home day when I get some time alone in the house. I have been listening to music, getting things done and re-calibrating. Hopefully by cocktail hour I’ll be in better shape. And I’m looking forward to volunteering at our church’s food pantry with my oldest son tomorrow. What is it about Christmas?!

    • I think there’s the feeling that we have so much to do, not much time to do it all the time. Then come the holidays, and instead of slowing down we add a bunch more on our plate without dropping many of the other things we’ve been doing all year. And then I guess we feel guilty about it, as you put so eloquently in your post earlier this month.

      I know so many people (women particularly) who are struggling with this right now.

  5. This is going to sound incredibly cheesy but my wife and I have taped a bunch of Hallmark Christmas movies this year and have turned them on in the background at night while we’re doing house chores. For whatever reason it is making on super festive and we may have found a new tradition in our house 🙂
    Mustard Seed Money recently posted…How Do You Celebrate Your Birthday?My Profile

    • I’m glad you’ve found something to make yourselves cheerier! Christmas backgrounds do seem to help a bit, whether it’s a bit of music, tv, turning on the lights, or lighting some candles.

  6. Christmas really has snuck up on this year too! It’s hard to believe it’s only a week away. My plan today was to stay in and watch Christmas movies (Elf, Home Alone, maybe even Die Hard). Luckily, we just got a huge dumping of snow last night and today I’ve woken up to a white winter wonderland. That goes a long way to helping with the Christmas spirit.
    Jay recently posted…Darvas Trader Interview: Old School GritMy Profile

    • That sounds ideal for getting in the Christmas spirit, Jay. (our weather yesterday was 72 degrees with pouring rain, so I’m way jealous!) We did go to church and then the Nutcracker, so I feel very Christmas-cultured today. But watching Die Hard would be way more fun!

    • Ha, we’ll have to get together next time you’re in the triangle and I’ll get you some cookies! Enjoy your lights, they look gorgeous.

    • We hang lights in the door frame heading from our family into the backyard, and just think they are fun. (We were probably never gonna get a spread in Southern Living anyway.)

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