11 Ways to Get Into the Holiday Spirit

by Brett & Kate McKay on December 10, 2009 · 75 comments

in Diversions, Travel & Leisure


“Instead of being a time of unusual behavior, Christmas is perhaps the only time in the year when people can obey their natural impulses and express their true sentiments without feeling self-conscious and, perhaps, foolish.  Christmas, in short, is about the only chance a man has to be himself.”  ~Francis C. Farley


There are just two more weeks until Christmas. But you know, it still doesn’t really feel like Christmas to me.

I’m currently in the holiday spirit wasteland-that time after you leave adolescence but before the fun of Christmas is reignited by the arrival of Santa Claus-believing children. Some time during this period, typically in college, the holiday season starts to feel like any other time of year. You barely notice it and then suddenly Christmas comes and goes.

It’s all part of growing up, of course. But while we advocate striving for mature manhood here on AoM, we also believe that paradoxically enough, the mature man is someone who retains a good deal of his boyish spirit. He simply knows how to harness it-when to reign it in and when to let it out. The holiday season is an appropriate time for the latter.

I don’t know if there’s anything distinctly manly about the holiday season, but I do know that I’ve always really admired men who truly get into it. The men who don red vests and cheesy sweaters, who put up elaborate light displays and put on Santa suits, the ones who delight in finding just the right gift for people, and who just seem….jolly. Their eyes have that unmistakable twinkle of a man who hasn’t given up on the idea of magic.

These men understand that while you have to grow up, it’s important to maintain a sense of wonder about the world and its possibilities. That in a cynical age, it’s okay to let go sometimes and tap into our less jaded selves.

So if your holiday spirit-o-meter has been running low, here are 11 steps to letting in the sights, sounds, and tastes of Christmas and getting into the holiday spirit.


“Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth!” -Charles Dickens

1. Turn on the holiday tunes. Nothing gets you in the holiday spirit faster than music. Once you hear those familiar notes, those same strains you’ve been singing along with since you were 5, the warm and fuzzy Christmas feelings come rushing back. But to have maximum effect, you’ve got to listen to the good stuff, the classics. And sing along. Because as Buddy the Elf has wisely instructed us, “The best way to spread Christmas Cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.” Here’s a few of my favorites:

1. White Christmas-Bing Crosby
2. The Christmas Song-Nat King Cole
3. Holly Jolly Christmas-Burl Ives
4. It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas-Bing Crosby
5. Sleigh Ride-Johnny Mathis
6. The Most Wonderful Time of the Year-Andy Williams

And when it comes to albums, you can’t go wrong with

1. Merry Christmas by Johnny Mathis
2. White Christmas by Bing Crosby
3. The Spirit of Christmas by Ray Charles
4. The Best of Christmas Cocktails by UltraLounge (has the best rendition of “Sleigh Ride” I’ve ever heard)
5. Christmas Portraits by The Carpenters

2. Watch some old school Christmas cartoons. When I was a kid, a holiday tradition my family had was watching old Christmas cartoons. We had a VHS with a bunch of cartoons from the 1930s and 40s that are in the public domain. We watched it so much, the tape wore out and we had to chuck the video. It’s been years since I’ve seen these charming Christmas cartoons, but thanks to the wonders of YouTube, I’m able to recapture a piece of my childhood. Here are 2 of my favorites:

Christmas Comes But Once a Year

Rudolph The Red-nosed Reindeer

3. Make some hot chocolate or eggnog. The edibles of Christmas are an integral part of what makes the season special. So take time to whip up and savor a seasonal beverage like hot chocolate or eggnog. Make a roaring fire in the fireplace, settle into your man chair, pick up a good book and sip on a tasty drink. For a recipe for making “Polar Express” hot chocolate and George Washington’s recipe for eggnog, check out our Man’s Guide to the Holidays ebook.


“Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.”  ~Washington Irving

4. Throw a holiday party. If you’re a single guy and/or far from home, it can be hard to get in the holiday swing of things. One way to force yourself to go whole hog into the season is to throw a  party. Planning the food, decorations, and tunes will thrust you head first into the holidays. And the party will warm your spirit with the company of friends and family.

5. Watch a Christmas movie. You’ve seen them a million times, but they never fail to pull at the heart strings. Here are my go-to films for getting a dose of the Christmas spirit:

1. It’s a Wonderful Life
2. A Christmas Story
3. A White Christmas
4. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
5. A Miracle on 34th Street
6. Elf
7. Peanuts’ Christmas Special

6. Read some Christmas classics. Every Christmas Eve my family would gather round and read some classic Christmas books together. Even now I like to crack one open when I’m in need of a holiday spirit infusion. The Polar Express and A Night Before Christmas are my old-time favorites.

“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.”  ~Roy L. Smith

7. Look at Christmas lights. Nothing quite puts the Christmas magic back in your heart like Christmas lights. Ordinary houses and trees are transformed into something extraordinary. It’s seeing the Christmas lights that lets you know it’s a special time of year. Drive around town and check out the neighborhood displays. Also be sure to check out the massive displays that are sometimes put on in parks by community organizations, where you can walk around in a winter wonderland of millions of lights.

8. Put up a tree. If you’re single or childless, it’s hard to get motivated to really deck the halls. But a spartan apartment or dorm room is perhaps the single greatest sapper of holiday spirit. Throw up a few strings of lights and boughs of holly. At the very least, put up a tree; it will bring the sights, lights, and smell of Christmas to your abode. Get a real tree that will give off that all important scent of pine. If don’t have the room or money for a real tree, get one of those mini trees. Decorate it with some tiny ornaments. Sounds a little silly, but it’s important to go through the ritual even in miniature. I’ve got a little tree lit up on my desk, and I tell ya, it really helps.


9. Plan a romantic holiday-themed date. To me, the closest thing to the magic you felt as a kid around Christmas, is the romantic feeling you get from sharing the holiday with someone you love. The magic comes back when you’re experiencing old traditions with a lady by your side. So plan a festive date: take a sleigh or horse drawn carriage ride, go to an outdoor skating rink, look at the lights, and then make some cocoa and snuggle by the fire.


10. Go see A Christmas Carol as a play. Some have argued that our modern idea of Christmas really began with Dickens’ Christmas Carol. It’s a story that never gets old and never fails to lift and inspire one’s spirit. The theater in every town of appreciable size will put on A Christmas Carol during the holidays. Go and see the show. It’s the kind of human story that’s made for live action theater.

“I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”  ~Charles Dickens

11. Do Service. Of course all of the above are simply a means to an end, that end being a warmed heart, a spirit that melts away the cynicism and primes the heart for a renewed sense of generosity. If you’re not feeling jolly this holiday season, the easiest way to change that is to do some service for someone else. Shovel the driveway for the old lady next door, volunteer at the soup kitchen, or anonymously leave a donation for someone in need.

“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”  ~Charles Dickens

What do you do to get into the holiday spirit? What are your favorite Christmas songs and movies? Share your ideas and favorites in the comments!

{ 75 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Phil December 10, 2009 at 10:53 pm

Sometimes people become hard hearted not so much to the holiday itself but the non-stop marketing of it. However about a day or two before the Christmas I really get into the spirit. When I reflect for a moment of the men and women who cannot be home with thier loved ones (for whatever reason) it really helps to put things into perspective.

In my best Jimmy Stewart voice I love to yell. “Merry Christmas you beautiful savings and loan!”

I’d also suggest the Tim Burton film “The Nightmare Before Christmas”

The Twlight Zone also had a great Christmas episode now found on Youtube.

2 James December 10, 2009 at 11:04 pm

Very nice post.

I’m of those guys who relishes the holidays as the chance to do the cheesy things that are frowned upon during the rest of the year. I don a santa hat, put on those Christmas crooners, and get the biggest tree I can find.

What also helps me get in the spirit is shopping. Now bear with me here-I know that consumerism can suck the holiday spirit right out of you. But while I love the convenience of online shopping-I found it really dulled my holiday spirit. Things just arrived to me on the doorstep. I actually like to go to a nice shopping center in my town and look at the window displays and touch the goods. The stores are decorated and the music is playing and you have to hunt for what you want. It can actually be quite fun it you let it and it makes it feel like Christmas.

3 Seth Q. December 10, 2009 at 11:04 pm

Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this. I’m single 20-something and I’ve been in the holiday rut now for a couple of years. Christmas just isn’t fun anymore. I want to recapture that magic I once felt for it. This post has definitely inspired me to get started.

Going out to get a Christmas tree tomorrow after work to put in my apt and I’m listening to Bing Crosby right now.

4 Carson Wright December 10, 2009 at 11:35 pm

To me the best way to celebrate anything including holidays is to indulge in something that makes you happy. It doesn’t have to have anything to do with inexplicable traditions including magical bearded fat men, insatiable materialism, stringing cheap colored lights on the eaves of your house in the bitter cold, or bizarre cartoons about mutant reindeer. Just because none of those things bring you joy doesn’t put you “in a rut” or a “spirit wasteland.” Sometimes traditions become outdated and stale, especially when they’ve been around so long nobody questions them. Personally, most of my best holiday memories have nothing to do with tradition and have everything to do with simple pleasures like a good ski session on the mountain or brewing homemade beer with my friends or a nice date with my girlfriend– flashing lights and Wal-Mart be damned.

5 George S December 11, 2009 at 12:41 am

I, too, am in the Christmas rut that you speak of. I’m a 21 year old university student, and you pretty much nailed the feeling that I have. Personally, I find that the best thing to do, at least for me, is to listen to The Nutcracker. It reminds me of when I was a kid. And its such a wonderful piece of music.

6 WDG December 11, 2009 at 1:28 am

Living on my own for the last couple of months has really put a damper on my spirits. However Christmas has always been my favorite part of the year and this year it’s really nice to whip up some eggnog and mulled cider, put on some Christmas carols (Blind Boys of Alabama have an amazing CD called “Go Tell it On The Mountain”) and decorate my tiny studio apartment with a tiny christmas tree and lights.

7 Nolan Bryan Lynch December 11, 2009 at 2:29 am

Great post! Christmas is a season of joviality, for sure – there’s a reason that Christmas figures prominently in “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” a book that deals in large part with the quality of kingliness, or joviality – a word which is obviously a reference to the king of the gods, Jove. Christmas is a season for generosity, feasting, laughter, magnificence, benevolence, joyful solemnity, solemn joy, sacrifice, etc – everything else you would associate with an ideal king. Anyway…

Watch “A Christmas Carol” starring George C. Scott. It’s the best.

8 Nolan Bryan Lynch December 11, 2009 at 2:33 am

Oh yeah – continuing on the same rant, it is no mistake that Holst named his fourth movement “Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity.” It’s all connected. Christmas, the coming of the King, kingliness, joviality, etc.

9 JJ December 11, 2009 at 2:38 am

I quite enjoyed this post. The holiday season is my favorite time of year.

I think the best way to get into the spirit of things is to work on surprising people with great gifts. What made xmas special when you were a kid was getting surprised by other people. You can get that same feeling, by surprising others.

10 Neptunus Hirt December 11, 2009 at 5:58 am

I am not fond of Christmas, unlike most of my peers. The rampant consumerism, the ties to religion, the deceiving of children, and other things really tick me off.

11 jack December 11, 2009 at 6:18 am

Wow ! those are simply cool holiday spirit.

12 omgavon December 11, 2009 at 6:20 am

I’m a 45 year old man who has faked it through at least the last dozen Christmases. I wish they were like the OLD Olympics: held every 4 years.

Last night, we had a Holiday party/meeting for the area Avon Representatives. Going out of my way to be a ‘bah-humbug’, I purposely wore black and blue and was the only person not to fit into the sea of red, green and gold sweaters. Part way through the night, my name was drawn and I won a small gift. (I almost called it a ‘stupid, trivial gift, but I’m watching my words because of what happened next.) The prize was an “infinity tea light candle display” – a little rack that houses three candles that look like one of those infinity mirrors. There’s some inspirational message on it about “being the best you can be” and opening your heart up.

The woman next to me (no more than 25), was so excited for me because she SO badly wanted one of these items from the Avon catalog, but it just wasn’t in her budget. With 4 kids, she and her husband are struggling (but not complaining). Earlier in the evening, she mentioned that she was getting gifts for the kids this year, and she had hoped to budget in a new dress for her husband’s holiday party at the plant, but the money wasn’t going to be there this year. She was going to wear the dress she wore last year.

I looked at the infinity candle and knew that it wasn’t meant to come home with me. At the end of the evening, I wished her a Merry Christmas and told her that I thought she was being a great mom for putting her kids first. With that, I slipped the candle into her canvas bag and told her I wanted to have a good holiday.

Her tears welled up as she thanked me. I got hugged. And my cold ‘bah-humbug’ started to melt away. I floated back to my car in the frozen Ohio air with a big smile on my face. Even now, a morning later, I feel good about that and how the spirit of Christmas is truly about giving.

13 Nick Ellingworth December 11, 2009 at 6:54 am

I too am in the Christmas rut but not because I don’t enjoy the festivities or because I’m not religious, I just detest the huge commercialisation of winter as a whole and the fact that in some parts of the UK shops started pushing their Christmas wares as early as July. When you’ve been bombarded with Christmas stuff for months on end it is easy to start disliking it.

I’m sure I’ll start to feel more of the spirit of the season now that my university has chucked us all out for the winter (I go back in early January for exams) and one I start tackling the real ale’s I’ve got lined up for the next couple of months.

Might I recommend a couple of classic British Christmas cartoons? These are two cartoons that were for me when growing up were as vital to my Christmas as presents, a huge roast dinner and fine drizzle. I am of course referring to the adaptations of Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas and The Snowman. I think both are on youtube (at least they were last year).

14 Khürt L Williams December 11, 2009 at 7:11 am

I’m not Christian and can’t get into the Christmas spirit. Most of my neighbours are Indian (and Hindu) and won’t be getting into the Christmas spirit either. After all it’s “Christ’s” mass. My wife is also Indian and HIndu. We celebrate Diwali (Hindu festival of lights) each year (October/November) and get into the spirit of that. I much prefer Thanksgiving (America) since it’s a truly secular holiday.

15 atroon December 11, 2009 at 7:53 am

I always (since college, anyway) take time to read _The_Hogfather_, by Terry Pratchett. It’s a parody of how ridiculous Christmas and the spirit of consumption has become, and it’s great for a few laughs and a few more thoughts.
When I got married, my wife introduced me to her family’s traditional Christmas movies: the first of the Die Hard franchise and The Long Kiss Goodnight, among other more traditional fare. I’m a lucky man, to have a wife who watches action movies to get into the Christmas spirit. And I must say, making eggnog falls right up there in the order of all things Christmas.

16 STL Mom December 11, 2009 at 8:02 am

I have kids to help me get into the spirit, but I can get caught up in the stress and shopping, and forget to relax and enjoy the season.
My kids have so much stuff I almost hate to buy more for them. On the other hand, it is very fun to choose some kids’ names from the charity tree, and choose an outfit and toys for kids who might not get much else for Christmas. Giving to people who really need it is much more satisfying than giving to my family!
And every year, I re-read “Miracle and Other Christmas Stories” by Connie Willis. She’s a science fiction writer, and some of the stories have fantastical elements, but all are either funny or touching or both.

17 Jonathon December 11, 2009 at 8:34 am

Christmas was always special to me growing up. I think my parents loved the holiday even more than I do (if that’s possible). All of my fondest memories of childhood come from the Christmas season…

I too am a HUGE fan of the old “Christmas Comes but Once a Year” cartoon, but in my opinion the one you over looked is the 1938 Hugh Harman classic “Peace on Earth.” If you’ve never seen it, it is truly a beautiful, well done cartoon about the true meaning of Christmas (won an Oscar for best short subject, and was allegedly nominated for a Nobel Prize). You can still find it on YouTube and I highly recommend it. It’s also doubly poignant in that the film was made only months before Germany invaded Poland, kicking off the world’s second unsuccessful attempt at committing suicide.

We were always a Grinch household growing up, but for me and my dad, the best Christmas special was the Twilight Zone episode entitled “Night of the Meek” wherein Art Carney plays a drunken department store Santa with one last chance at redemption. Still makes me a tad misty eyed every time.

18 Starkovich December 11, 2009 at 9:01 am

I am a real Christmas guy. I love traditions and all the elements of the holiday. I plan my dinner party menus in September. The things I love most about Christmas is putting together music for our church program. As a foreign exchange host parent, our lives have been now influenced by the European students we’ve hosted over the years. We have one tree dedicated to all the ornaments sent to us from each of them. We do decorations in nearly every room of the house. Most of all, I enjoy all the little parties we host throughout the season. We go see Christmas lights, host a “Classic Christmas Movie” night, which always include “A Christmas Carol” (1938) and “Miracle on 34th Street” (1947).

I’m just happy that there are others who love Christmas as much as I.

Merry Christmas

19 mike December 11, 2009 at 9:11 am

Merry Christmas,
A really good way to enjoy Christmas is to attend Christmas Mass. There you will find the true Spirit of Christmas.

20 Eric December 11, 2009 at 9:38 am

Great post. I have young children (6 and 3), and we have a few neat traditions that my wonderful wife came up with and makes sure we do annually. I find myself participating much more this year, and it’s really opened my heart.

1. Watch the old, classic holiday cartoons with the kids (Rudolph, Grinch, etc.) and some newer ones (Polar Express, Prep & Landing) with the kids on the couch. Add in hot chocolate and popcorn, and the kids are going to have some pretty cool memories.
2. Bake holiday cookies together, including the kids as much as possible.
3. Drive around town as a family and look at the Christmas lights.
4. We have a cool downtown area in our town of 15,000, and the downtown merchants sponsor an annual “Winter Walk.” The shops are open, there’s a cool model train display at the library, and you can visit Santa at one of the local banks, among many other things. We’ve gone when it’s been below zero and still had a great time. Very Norman Rockwell-ish.

21 Ced December 11, 2009 at 9:42 am

im 38 and i dont think i have had the Christmas spirit since i was in my early teens, i and can thank the mass marketing machine for it. seeing Christmas displays going up in june and july just saddens me

22 Loris December 11, 2009 at 9:54 am

All I need is some Mannheim Steamroller and some crisp weather and I’m there.

23 Doug December 11, 2009 at 10:08 am

I agree that music is an important piece, although my tastes are much more with classical music than the pop stuff listed. My parents had an album (an LP), “Christmas Hymns and Carols, Vol. 2″ by Robert Shaw – a capella, which is a solid piece of grounding for me, and helped establish my tastes in music, and choral music in particular. I bought a replacement copy of the album in the ’70s, and a CD in the ’90s. Recent additions to my Xmas music are “In the Bleak Midwinter,” and Franz Biebl’s “Ave Maria.”

I will add that that I’m not a Christian. However, such music is tightly tied to the season for me. I recognize that Western choral music would be in the toilet without Christianity, so I enjoy the music, and try not to let the words or dogma interfere with my appreciation of the music.

24 Bert December 11, 2009 at 10:08 am

By far the greatest Christmas movie, in my humble opinion, is “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. For me, I can’t stand the commercialism that has become “Christmas” and like Ced seeing the displays up before November drive me nuts. But when I sit down and watch as Charlie Brown frustrated with the same aggravating commercialism screams out “CAN ANYONE TELL ME WHAT CHRISTMAS IS REALLY ABOUT!!” then Linus gives him the simple truth and quotes from Luke’s Gospel (Lk2:8-14). Then good ‘ol Chuck gets it. I can’t get into the Christmas spirit until I watch this movie, I even have the soundtrack to get me going until I have time to sit down and watch it. For those of you who say your in a Christmas rut, go out and watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas”

25 JG December 11, 2009 at 10:25 am

Good to see that some people still honor the holiday traditions. It has seemed to me for a long while that the only thing people enjoy about Christmas is getting gifts. We never had money to give or get gifts when I was a kid, so we just spent time with the family. My dad actually stayed sober during Christmas as well, since he loved the season, which was a gift to the entire family. My fondest memories are of Christmas time. People just seem kinder around this time of year, and I love that.

I have spent the past five Christmases (Is that a word?) away from my family and this year I actually get to spend it with them. I haven’t looked forward to Christmas this much since I was 7. I just can’t wait and I have been in the Holiday spirit since before Thanksgiving.

26 Amanda Patchin December 11, 2009 at 10:34 am

All of the above are good, and I’d also like to suggest that celebrating the 12 days of Christmas: which run from Christmas Day to Epiphany (Jan 6th). The materialism part of the holiday is pretty much over but there is still plenty of time for celebrating with friends and family, exchanging small meaningful gifts, and really appreciating what the holiday is all about.

27 Hawkster December 11, 2009 at 12:06 pm

Easy way to get in the spirit? Sign up to provide Christmas for a kid whose family can’t afford it… Whether it’s just a couple toys or the full-shebang (clothes, toys, books, socks, all of the above), it’s SO MUCH FUN to shop for a kid. More fun than shopping for anybody else. Remember how awesome it was to open that GI Joe or football or whatever, the one you really wanted? Now imagine being the one who gave that gift and knowing how much they love it. That’s Christmas. Happy Kids.

Add a little eggnog for a nice warm tummy while you wrap…

28 Vincent LoGreco December 11, 2009 at 12:14 pm

Every year the local one screen movie house near me (the Colonial Theatre, Phoenixville, PA) plays some holiday classics. Every year I am sure to take in Jean Shepherd’s A Christmas Story or It’s A Wonderful Life (or both) there! It really puts me in the spirit seeing these films on the big screen with a crowd!

29 Dating Down Under December 11, 2009 at 12:32 pm

I agree with Amanda…Christmas is fun and you truely share your feelings with your family and friends. You need that break once a year to be with your close ones and enjoy life…it’s great time and life seems to be so beautiful with all lights!

30 Jake December 11, 2009 at 12:40 pm

Good article, and merry Christmas, everyone.

I’m at a simular age to most of the posters here. I have no kids of my own. However, Christmas was always special at my house when I was growing up, so I don’t really feel like I’m in a Christmas rut.

A great thing to do at this age is to start taking over some of the responsabilities that the adults usually do. If you have little brothers or sisters, or neices and nephews, offer to help make it a special time for them. I’ve started buying the tree and putting the lights up at my mom’s house for the last couple years.

31 Bernie December 11, 2009 at 12:52 pm

Great list (esp. the inclusion of Christmas vacation!). For me, any season comes with these things: food and music. The Christmas season just has the addition of ornamentation. And I’m with Bert that one of the best Christmas albums is A Charlie Brown Christmas. I’m also partial to Jethro Tull’s and The California Guitar Trio’s Christmas albums. As for food, it’s primarily in the form of nog, booze, and cookies. Gonna make some Russian tea cakes today, in fact.

32 Chuck December 11, 2009 at 1:24 pm

I break out the book, A Christmas Carol, the first week of December every year and read it over the next few weeks. It’s not that long and it is incredibly written. So many great lines and observations from Dickens.

Glad to see Elf made the list of movies!

33 Steve December 11, 2009 at 1:27 pm

Good posts. One thing I’ve found is that Christmas becomes a lot more fun, and a lot more meaningful, AFTER the actual day. When the endless tacky commercials have been pulled from the TV, and we are no longer hearing Mariah Carey holiday songs on the radio, and the crush of shopping and visiting is over, my wife and I can relax in our little house and listen to good Christmas music, and curl up on the couch and watch our favorite Christmas movies, and actually enjoy the holiday. It always works.

34 Steve December 11, 2009 at 1:56 pm

Burl Ives and “A Christmas Story” indeed make it Christmas for me. But I would add two other Christmas classic movies to the list:
Die Hard
Lethal Weapon

Sometimes you need to balance the season of light and joy with wisecracks and ‘splosions.

35 Kerensky97 December 11, 2009 at 4:43 pm

As for Christmas Books to get you in the spirit I’m always surprised in how few people are aware of the book “The Father Christmas Letters”. It’s a collection of the letters JRR Tolkien (yes that Tolkien) wrote to his children.

Complete with illustrations they tell the tale of father Christmas on the north pole and the problems faced getting ready for Christmas. Considering the story telling abilities of the man writing them you can guess that they’re quite imaginative and deeply engrossing. They’re seriously worth a look if you’re tired of the usual Christmas stories and want something with more of a fantasy flair. And of course and Tolkien fan who has never read this really should be ashamed. ;)


36 Danielle December 11, 2009 at 6:19 pm

I am so so glad that you posted that Christmas Comes But Once a Year cartoon. I had the same tape as a kid and was reminiscing about that exact cartoon the other day. Makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. :)

37 Jimmy December 11, 2009 at 6:55 pm

My favorite movies to get in the holiday spirit are Die Hard and Gremlins. Non-traditional? Yes. But oh so good.

38 Adam December 11, 2009 at 7:12 pm

Putting up a tree is definately a confirmation that christmas is here for me. It gets me in the mood, and makes you feel warm inside, you cant help but put on the cheesy christmas songs by the likes of slade and wizard and of course nat king cole, they always get you in the mood.

39 Robbo December 11, 2009 at 11:28 pm

In my part of the world Christmas comes in the summertime, so all the traditional images associated with the holiday (snow, gathering around a fire, eggnog, awful sweaters etc.) aren’t part of my Christmas reality. After we finish Christmas dinner we usually get the cricket gear out and have a game with cold beers in our hands and the sun on our face. I don’t think I’d enjoy a white Christmas as much as I do my summertime Christmas’s.
As for getting in the holiday spirit, I find it easy to get into that mindset when the weather starts to get warmer and I’m around my family. I don’t really need Christmas carols (puke!) or cartoons.

40 Rawb December 12, 2009 at 12:29 am

I find I really get into the Christmas spirit by surprising someone else with something I know they’ll love. Showing up at someone’s house with baked cookies or helping my sister put up her lights is what really makes my season. This year I put up our tree and stockings while my one-year-old niece was napping. When she woke up, she could only sit down and stare at everything with wide eyes. It was great.

A problem I think a lot of people have is that there’s all this buildup and then…one day. It’s over. I converted to another religion three years ago, and we celebrate Christmas for twelve days, STARTING December 25th. Christmas doesn’t end until January 6th. It’s preceded by Advent, which is a time of restraint. I would urge those who are having difficulties with the spirit of Christmas to next year (or start now!) observe Advent and then celebrate Christmas slowly for twelve days. It’s not so overwhelming. It’s truly relaxing to bake maybe a few cookies, buy your presents, and that’s it in December until Christmas, then have parties, exchange gifts, sing carols, etc. over a length of time that allows you to actually enjoy them, rather than checking them off a list to cram into one day.

And hearing Silent Night for the first time all year at Midnight Mass makes it all the better.

41 Basil December 12, 2009 at 2:17 pm

That cartoon “Christmas comes…” was seriously scary.

42 Nandan Sahi December 12, 2009 at 7:47 pm

Great, and much needed post. While my parents have NEVER been the festive type, I am this year, for the first time, sending out Christmas cards near and far and am also always on the look-out for gifts for the people that I’m very close to. Despite my extremely hectic schedule, I have the 24th and the 25th off this year and will be doing a 48-hour Reiki session. Holler if you’d like some. http://www.twitter.com/nanzereus . My favourite Christmas movie is Love Actually. It reminds me that Christmas is a time to be spent with your loved ones. Girlfriends, boyfriends, best friends, friends of friends, just friends, husbands, wives, mothers and fathers, grandparents, grandchildren, and even that boss who let you off work early that one time because you really begged him/her to.

Happy Christmas
and may God bless us everyone!

43 kultron December 12, 2009 at 8:48 pm

It seems that the theme this article is centered around is reaffirming constantly that it is Christmas, remembering to older times of the ‘Christmas’ tradition. “Christmas” is totally alien to me. I come from a strict Mennonite family, we never celebrated any sort of non-religious Christmas. No carols, presents, tree, wreathes, any of it. Seems to me to be nothing more than people overspending and getting worked up about nothing. Like where did all the Christmas bullshit even come from? What does Santa have to do with Jesus or anything? Now that I’m an adult living on my own and an Atheist, Christmas is so annoying. . I am glad I wasn’t fed such silliness as a child, I’m not bitter or anything. Jesus wasn’t even born in winter I heard.

44 Jeffrey December 12, 2009 at 10:16 pm

One of the most important aspects of being manly is to have a relationship with God. It is a manly thing to take time at Christmas to seek God and go to Church and meditate on the reason Christmas matters. After all, the reason Christmas exists in the first place is that God became a man. That is what we celebrate in the birth of Jesus. Merry Christmas to one and all.

45 Eriks B December 12, 2009 at 11:50 pm

Thank you for posting this. Simply love it!

The video about Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer brought back memories of my childhood. When I was small, I used to watch it on the VCR on Christmas’ eve. Brought back a lot of memories.

Thanks. And have a very, merry Christmas.

46 JT December 13, 2009 at 11:43 am

Put Vince Guaraldi’s swinging Peanuts Christmas album on and have a hot chocolate with Barenjager. Done and done.

47 Gary Slaughter December 13, 2009 at 3:48 pm

I’m turning into a curmudgeon about most of the things about Christmas, but I still love the old standard songs, with the glaring exception of “Winter Wonderland”. It’s been played to death, and when it comes on the radio, I turn it off.

There are some modern ones I can’t stand, either:
“Feliz Navidad” by Jose Feliciano. 21 words in the song. It must’ve taken him five minutes to write it.
“Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney. (“. . .sim – ply hav – ing a wonderful Christmastime.”) Maybe George Harrison helped co-write that one. Talk about an ear worm.

48 Cowboy Bob December 13, 2009 at 8:00 pm

I like songs that have the real reason we celebrate, besides the generic “holiday” and “Sanny Cos” things. Although the hymns get tedious, things like “O Holy Night” bring it home for me.

As for movies when you don’t “feel it”, try comedies. Even “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”, while being silly, has some underlying qualities: Clark Griswald wants to make it all work for the family, he has a heart of gold, etc. I can’t get into “Bad Santa” stuff, though. Plus the Jim Carrey version of The Grinch gets you laughing. When we feel more serious, “Scrooge” with Alastair Sim is a must-do.

If the recorded media won’t help, try remembering good times with others. Also, simply count your blessings. I know it sounds trite, but let’s face it, a lot of people do not have AoM! (Reality check: We complain when the Internet is down, some people live in total desolation. Get some perspective.)

49 Rawb December 14, 2009 at 4:27 am

kultron, I think you’re focusing on the wrong parts of Christmas. For one thing, the tree, wreath, presents, and Santa Claus all have religious meanings in my faith. The trees and wreaths are symbols, and are blessed by the father of the family using Holy Water. The presents retell the gift-giving of the Magi (and are sometimes not given till Epiphany on January sixth, the feast of the kings), and Santa Claus is really Saint Nicholas, who fills stockings on his feast day of December sixth, just as legend tells us he did when he was a bishop in Turkey for love of the poor and Jesus. Who gives a rip when Christ was born? It’s common to celebrate birthdays on alternative days. My cousin celebrated his daughter’s birthday last Saturday, though her birthday was Friday, because it was easier to get everyone together on Saturday.

At any rate it seems silly to complain about an article being “centered around…reaffirming constantly that it is Christmas…” when the article is titled “11 Ways to Get Into the Holiday Spirit”.

50 Merlin December 14, 2009 at 10:16 am

As a Pagan, I celebrate Yule instead of Christmas at this time of year, which is a seasonal festival to reaffirm new light and new life once the Solstice has passed, For me, the best way to get into the spirit of the season is to go out, cut down a tree, bring it home and decorate it, then have a party! Manliness in cutting down the tree, and childish fun in decorating it and singing Pagan carols!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Joyful Yule and Happy whatever else you choose to celebrate at this time!

51 Danny December 14, 2009 at 11:43 am

Great post!
Having National Lampoons Christmas Vacation in that movie list is just awesome. Gonna watch it this year again!

52 Josh English December 14, 2009 at 12:00 pm

The one TV show that Always puts me in the holiday spirit is the Rick Steve European Christmas special. We watch one section every night during dinner, after praying with the Advent Wreath.

53 Nick December 14, 2009 at 12:32 pm

I enjoyed this article, particularly Smith’s quote: “He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.” Unfortunately the substance of the article had nothing to do with Christmas. It dealt only with the secular practice of the “Holidays”. No where was any mention made of the faith aspect of Christmas only lights, & parties, & cartoons. Really, cartoons? Hey I love Rudolph as much as the next guy & can’t wait each year to sit down with my son & watch the Grinch but this is where it’s important to differentiate between “the holiday spirit” (whatever that means) & the Christmas Spirit. What do I mean? Well, without the message of Jesus born of a virgin, dead on a cross, & resurrected from the grave there is no Christmas. I could go on & on but I will simply put it this way. I encourage any extension of kindness & generosity as well as fun & togetherness no matter what the occasion. Wintertime holidays provide this & I think it is good to do so. However, the Gentlemanly thing to do is be honest & respectful about your beliefs as well as the beliefs of others. So I will encourage you all to do as I will try to do as well & that is celebrate this time of year for the reason it most exists. If Jesus isn’t the reason for your season then please refrain from using the phrase Christmas. Happy Holidays will suffice. So happy holidays or Merry Christmas, whichever you prefer.

54 matthew December 14, 2009 at 1:36 pm

Great posting, do you happen to have the original file for the couple walking in the snow, I would love to use that for my girlfriend’s xmas card.

55 Ty December 15, 2009 at 12:11 am

Great article-I feel each year it can get harder and harder to feel the Christmas spirit as I once experienced as a child. However, like Nick, I believe that without Christ in the center of our lives (not only during Christmas) we have no “spirit” to enjoy. As I look forward to soaking in the season and the great food/cartoons/etc. I hope above all to share the joy I have in Jesus!

56 Carl Muthman December 15, 2009 at 2:42 am

I think the last one, Do Service, should be at the top of the list. We all know someone that can use some help and not just for Christmas. If you can’t afford to help out enough by yourself, recruit others. Instigate a personal and informal charity to help a specific family. Take up a collection from co-workers and friends and get a food basket and some gift cards to a local dept. store. Have the donaters all sign a card and see if anyone wants to be in on delivering it all. Giving is an overwhelming feeling and just planning it will definitely get you in the spirit.
I have had the pleasure of delivering some of those food baskets and I will never forget how much it meant to those people and how it affected me.

57 Elizabeth December 15, 2009 at 8:17 am

I think the key is not simply _listening_ to a Christmas carol but _singing_! When you participate in an activity, particularly something with art and music, it lights up the pleasure centers of your brain. It’s good to sing along to the CD. But it’s better to sing with another person or a group of people. No matter how badly they sing, no matter how badly you sing, it makes you feel wonderful.

Also, try to awaken all of your senses to the season. If you can’t get a real tree, with its wonderful scent, bake premade cookies or frozen bread dough, or stick cloves in an orange. Sometimes, if you live in an apartment, simply a coat tree by the door will bring out color with bright, seasonal wraps; and bring out scent with the steely smell of ozone.

58 Mr Miyagi December 16, 2009 at 10:46 am

Another very easy thing to do is get in the habit of smiling and saying “merry Christmas” to people while paying for items at a store, running into people in public, etc. It’s just a simple thing to do and it’ll cause someone else to smile and lift up that Christmas spirit inside you.

59 Allen December 16, 2009 at 3:45 pm

Do Service… also this needs to be included: “Go to a (Christmas) Service.” Church is important always, but especially this time of year.

60 Bill December 17, 2009 at 9:48 am

I agree with Allen. I haven’t been going to church as often as I had when I was a kid, but I’ve recently realized that the anticipation of Christmas brought about by Advent ceremonies is probably a big reason I haven’t been getting in the holiday spirit as much.

61 Kevin December 17, 2009 at 2:19 pm

My favorite thing to do during Christmas is to get tight on Whiskey and watch “The sound of Music”. Everyone thinks I’m crazy, including my wife, but who cares. I especially love it when they stick it to the Krauts. My kids love the movie as well, who doesn’t, it kicks ass.

62 Andy December 17, 2009 at 6:33 pm

I’m not sure why Die Hard isn’t on the movies list…

63 Allen December 18, 2009 at 10:49 am

Oh, another thought. Go ahead… wish people “Merry Christmas.” Yes, Merry Christmas. Not “Happy Holidays” or that wishy-washy “Season’s Greetings.” Be a badass. Be a man. You can do it. Merry Christmas. See. That wasn’t so hard.

64 Jayson December 20, 2009 at 2:18 pm


I completely disagree with you and from an “advent” perspective. Christmas, while the most important of the holidays of the “season”, is not the only one.

65 Allen December 21, 2009 at 12:50 pm


I agree with you. Advent and Christmas are indeed two separate seasons. Perhaps I didn’t make myself clear enough. I hate how society has clouded up the boundaries between Advent and Christmas. There is SO much Christmas music during Advent, and so very little of it during Christmas. For the record: I don’t wish people Merry Christmas until sundown on Christmas Eve, and continue to wish people Merry Christmas until Epiphany. Our Christmas decorations stay up until Twelfth Night. I think what I was getting at was I refuse to be trampled on by the media and other liberal do-gooders who insist on us not “offending” people by wishing them a Merry Christmas, and instead wishing people a euphemism instead.

A blessed Advent,

66 Steve December 21, 2009 at 7:03 pm

What about going to church? That seems to be absent from your list.

Funny, because it is CHRIST-mas we are talking about here, and the true Spirit of Christmas cannot be found in a soup kitchen, a movie, or on a classic Christmas album- yes, even Nat King Cole’s- but in sitting before the Child in the manger.

A little stillness, silence, reflection, and thanks (i.e., prayer) will be sure to touch your heart.

God bless you all. Merry Christmas!

67 Jack December 21, 2009 at 8:06 pm

I hate this time of year, well maybe hate is too strong. But it irks me. Crass commercialism and fake sentimentality all around. Not to mention the hypocrisy of suggesting that we should give to charity now because of the time.

We should give all year round.

68 Allen December 22, 2009 at 10:04 am

Thanks for mentioning going to church. At least there are two of us who believe in going to church.

69 JohnAtl December 22, 2009 at 10:31 am

The defensive comments by Christians about Christmas are funny, given that Christmas is based on the pagan festival Saturnalia. When the pagans wouldn’t give up their festival, the church decided, “if you can’t beat them, join them,” and moved Jesus’ birthday to coincide with the pagan festivals.


70 Allen December 22, 2009 at 3:25 pm

Christmas is the birth of Christ, period. It may be based on a pagan festival, but it is, and always will be, the birth of Christ.

So much for the tolerant left…

71 Allen December 22, 2009 at 3:31 pm

An interesting discussion about the origins of Hanukkah is here:


72 Elliot Ness December 22, 2009 at 4:44 pm

Good post. But your Christmas movie list needs “It’s a wonderful life.”

73 JohnAtl December 22, 2009 at 5:00 pm

Isn’t using a pagan festival to celebrate the birth of your savior a little ironic?
It’s a kind of like Christian rock.

74 Allen December 23, 2009 at 9:41 am

JohnAtl: the irony is simple: Jesus died for your sins. He is your Savior too.

Merry Christmas.

75 Rader September 6, 2013 at 2:39 pm

I’d add to the list:

Send out some Christmas cards to your family and business associates!

My Dad always got lots of Christmas cards at his office and he put them all up. It was great to see all the connections he had and people he had influenced spreading Christmas cheer.

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