How to Make the Season Happier When You’re Not a Christmas Person

For many, the glitter of tinsel and glow of holiday lights bring forth feelings of happiness and good cheer.

But not for everyone.

Christmas is not always a joyful time for people. For some, the holiday can amplify negative emotions associated with an unhappy childhood or the loss of a loved one. For those of a non-Christian faith, Christmas can simply be seen as irrelevant. Those with a disdain for consumerism or material excess find the constant push to purchase things to be off-putting.

It can be difficult to escape Christmas and all that comes with it, but there are plenty of ways to redirect that holiday energy into an activity that works for you.

  1. Get crafty. While everyone’s out visiting Santa and decking the halls, take up a craft that will keep you busy. My neighbors are avid kombucha brewers, while my cousin makes a mean batch of salsa. Me? I love making chocolate truffles. Giving away your homemade treats is an opportunity to participate in the season without going overboard or fully engaging with tradition. And because your crafts are made to be consumed, you don’t have to worry about them gathering dust on someone’s shelf.
  2. Catch up with friends. Decline the invitation to the gift exchange or the holiday theater production and catch up with friends instead. Any time is a good time for a coffee and croissant or an after-work appetizer, but people are generally more open to socializing around the holidays. Take advantage of their availability and reconnect.
  3. Lend a hand to those in need. Sometimes a good way to make yourself feel better is to do something nice for others. Northwest Harvest has a number of opportunities for volunteers – from sorting donations to packaging bulk foods – at its locations in Seattle, Kent, Spokane and Yakima. Seattle-based nonprofit Facing Homelessness welcomes anyone willing to gather trash at homeless encampments or help build tiny homes for the unhoused. Churches everywhere need help serving meals. It’s hard to be unhappy when you’re helping.
  4. Answer nature’s call. In the Pacific Northwest, a wooded trail can be found around nearly every corner. And the beauty of heading off the beaten path around Christmas means you’ll likely have it all to yourself. We have dozens of hike ideas for anyone who needs to unplug from the holiday hype and reconnect with nature. (No reindeer – we promise!)
  5. Get out of town. If finances allow, a trip out of town does wonders for those over-stimulated by the holidays. Sign up to receive travel alerts from airlines and keep an eye open for last-minute deals. Twinkling lights on a palm tree beat a bedazzled Evergreen any day. For those who want to skip the air travel, Astoria makes a perfect winter beach getaway.

With the season already in full swing, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to fully escape the crush of Christmas. But with a little care for yourself – and others – you may find a way to embrace the holiday in your own special way.

Hidden Gems in Olympic National Park

Photo by MarioGuti

Sheila Cain

A lifelong Washingtonian, Sheila Cain writes about everything from technology and architecture to food and the outdoors. She lives in Seattle’s Phinney Ridge neighborhood with her husband, son, dog and three cats.