Sara Laughed

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Christmas is one of my very favorite times of year. Twinkle lights, gift giving, and best of all, spending time with the people I love, helps make Christmas meaningful and the season feel touched with magic. Because much of our culture loves Christmas, hopes always run high around this time of year, and I notice that more and more people are longing for a meaningful Christmas. We don't just want tinsel, holly, and presents. We want to be wholly present: to experience to fullness of this season. Especially as I'm growing up and my family is experiencing a new chapter in our lives, I want to make Christmas meaningful more than ever. Here are seven ways I'm doing just that.

1. Making Christmas meaningful by reading

As a practicing Christian, reading and participating in Advent studies has been really meaningful to me in shaping my time leading up to Christmas! This year, I'm participating in an Advent study as well as leading one of my own for my Bible journaling community, Seasons Illustrated. Here are a few Advent and Christmas books I recommend for people looking for religious reading this season:

  1. Hidden Christmas by Tim Keller
  2. Seeing Mary: How Women Can Share Wisdom, Prayers, and Blessings of God by Renita J. Weems
  3. The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas by Ann Voskamp
  4. The Women of Christmas by Liz Curtis Higgs

Of course, not everyone who celebrates Christmas is religious. There is plenty of meaning and joy to be found in the season whether or not it is a spiritual season for you! A few years back, I really enjoyed Let it Snow: Three Holiday Romances by Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle, and John Green. There are plenty of other Christmas books that can help you get into the spirit of the season; head to your local bookstore to browse a little!

2. Make Christmas meaningful with Advent music

No, not Christmas music! I love Christmas music, but there's a whole other kind of seasonal song that is regularly overlooked, and can be quite meaningful. Advent is the four weeks leading up to Christmas, in which people prepare their hearts for Christmas Day (and the twelve days of Christmas, which actually only start on the 25th!). Advent music focuses on themes of waiting, hope, and anticipation. It's a great way to get into the spirit of the season without overwhelming yourself with the same Christmas hits you hear every year. I have an Advent playlist you can check out below:

3. Practice acts of service.

Christmas is a great time to give back, because there are families struggling with the financial burdens of Christmas, as well as people who are dealing with emotional hurts during a season that can be as high in tension as it is in hope. Here are a few ways to commit acts of service this season:

  • Donate to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves' Toys for Tots, which collects unopened toys for less fortunate children.
  • Be an Elf by fulfilling a child's letter to Santa.
  • Volunteer at an elderly care facility. Spend time with those who are neglected and may feel lonely this season.

4. Make Christmas meaningful by finishing shopping early

Shopping for gifts is fun, but can quickly become a stressor. Save stress and time by shopping early so that you can spend more of your season on what matters, like family, friends, and your community.

5. Make Christmas meaningful by scheduling time

7 Valuable Ways to make Christmas meaningful

To avoid Christmas tensions, my family has a ‘Christmas Calendar' where we write down our big events and plans for the days before and after Christmas. By scheduling family time as well as time apart, we make sure that everyone's hopes for the Christmas season are met and fulfilled.

6. Make Christmas meaningful by attending a Christmas Eve service

There are faith communities in every denomination gathering together to celebrate this season. Whether you never go to church or you go more than once a week, try attending the Christmas Eve service this year. Christmas Eve servicse, in any congregation or denomination, can be a beautiful way to focus on the story of Christmas, sing hymns, and stand in candlelight with others. I always find that the Christmas Eve service is my favorite way to “flip the switch” from Advent to Christmas.

If you're not sure which services might be happening around you, ask a coworker or friend who you like and who is plugged into the community. They can likely recommend a church that would be a good fit for you and your family.

7. Make Christmas meaningful by gifting time

I recently read an article on giving activities as a gift, rather than giving material items. I loved the idea of giving someone show tickets, or a voucher to go ice skating, or do something else meaningful and fun this holiday season. Accompanying the person to the activity is even better!

These are just a few of the ways that I'm trying to create a meaningful Christmas this year. I'd love to hear from you in the comments:

What makes Christmas meaningful to you? How do you make Christmas more meaningful?


  1. Reply


    December 4, 2016

    Hi Sara! I simply love this post! I cannot believe I am lucky enough to read your blog. I am 2012 graduate and now I am struggling to meet my tight deadlines at work. I do appreciate so much the way your write about spirituality and religion. Thanks a million! Greetings from Belgium.

    • Reply

      Sara Laughed

      December 5, 2016

      Thank you so much Joasia! Greetings from Boston to you!

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    December 5, 2016

    Although I’m not religious – I do love to give back and practice gratitude during this time. It’s such a wonderful season.

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    December 5, 2016

    This is such an amazing post! Sometimes we get so caught up in decorating, buying gifts and what is more known as the usual Christmas things that we forget the meaningful things that make Christmas special.

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    December 5, 2016

    This post is so refreshing! Great ways to remember the reason for the season!

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    December 5, 2016

    Great post! I love the Christmas season and try to make it as meaningful as possible. I love giving gifts to my family and friends and listening to Christmas music with them.
    -Anna |

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    Summer @ Coffee With Summer

    December 5, 2016

    So refreshing, Sara! Yes to all of these. I love listening to advent music, as there’s just a peace and anticipation about them.

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    December 5, 2016

    I love all of these tips! This year my family decided to make Christmas more meaningful by not getting gifts for each other. We’re just going to spend time together and enjoy a nice meal.

    Greta |

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    December 5, 2016

    My husband and I usually anonymously adopt a local family and provide Christmas for them. It’s the highlight of my holiday season 🙂

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    Mckenna Bleu

    December 5, 2016

    I love listening to Christmas music more than anything this time of year!

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    December 5, 2016

    One of my favorite parts of Christmas is the Christmas Eve service. It’s a great time to spend with my family! We also drive around and look at Christmas lights afterwards and listen to Christmas music. It’s a special tradition that I love. I’ve also never really heard of/listened to Advent music before so I’m gonna check it out!

    Kayla |

  11. Reply

    Alix Maza

    December 5, 2016

    Christmas Eve service is a tradition with us! Our church goes all out with flowers and music and it’s always packed.

    Alix |

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    Rachel Ritlop

    December 6, 2016

    I adore Christmas music throughout the year! especially Hanson’s Snowed In CD lol

    Rachel | The Confused Millennial

  13. Reply


    December 7, 2016

    These are great ideas. I love volunteering all year round but something about donating your time or items during the holiday season makes it feel extra special.


  14. Reply


    December 7, 2016

    I LOVE this idea!! I admit that sometimes I get caught up into the mumbo jumbo of “Christmas” and don’t take time to actually make it meaningful. Definitely changing that this year!