We all love Christmas. The decorations, presents, music and special programs help us get in the spirt of the season.

Every family has its Christmas traditions. Nothing wrong with that, but I’d like to offer a few ideas to shake things up and in the process get back to the real “reason for the season.”

One idea is to skip the gifts. Sound outrageous? Well, you can save a lot of money and end up with more meaningful experiences. For example, let each member of the family chip in to buy tickets to a show that everyone will enjoy ,or go to a favorite restaurant.

You can also give of yourself instead of giving gifts. Offer to help a neighbor with chores around the house or yard. Take homemade meals to someone who is homebound or sick. Consider simple things like writing letters for someone or just sitting a visiting with someone in the nursing home. The ideas are endless.

Another neat idea is to “go cultural.” Countries celebrate the season in different ways. Have your family pick a country and enjoy a culturally-themed holiday. Decorate the way they would in that culture, imitate their traditions, and prepare traditional foods from that country.

Speaking of food – consider changing your main dish this year. Try something different. It can be part of the culturally-themed experience or just a change from turkey to prime rib. If changing the mail dish is too extreme, incorporate pastries or other dishes into your meal.

Giving handmade gifts is always a good idea and is special because the recipient knows that a lot of love went in to the making of the gift. They are considered “gifts of thought.”

One of my favorite ideas is to give Christmas to someone else. The holidays are the perfect time to help someone who is less fortunate. Buy a Christmas tree, prepare a meal, or offer to help buy presents for the children in a family.

Whatever we do and however we spend our time during the season, let’s not forget the reason we celebrate Christmas. It’s all about the Christ child. As we approach Christmas Day we need to remember why Jesus came to live among us and that he gave us the ultimate gift.