Five ways to inspire holiday magic this year

(BPT) – In a perfect world, the countdown to Christmas is full of visions of Santa Claus, his reindeer and sugarplums dancing in our heads. At least, that’s the way it’s supposed to be. So why are all of your visions focused on shopping lists, travel arrangements and holiday chaos?

Chaotic schedules make it easy to see the holidays as another blip on the calendar. However, if you want a little more ho-ho-ho and less go-go-go, here are five ways you can reignite that Christmas spirit and start seeing those dancing sugarplums again.

* Give. It’s better to give than to receive, and nothing embodies the holiday spirit like giving of your own time. After all, it’s a scarce commodity. So when you have an hour or two, you can donate time to your favorite charity, volunteer for a cause you believe in or gather the family and shovel a senior’s driveway. Nothing warms the heart like a genuine thank you and a deed well done.

* Welcome Santa. Santa Claus IS Christmas magic, especially for kids and big kids at heart. Kick-off the season with an early hello from Santa, and share a personalized video message from the big guy himself. Portable North Pole (PNP) has been helping families make Christmas more magical for the last 8 years. It lets you craft the perfect message where Santa says your child’s name, shows photos of them in his magical book and mentions the good things they’ve done during the year. Plus, they can find out if they’re on Santa’s naughty or nice list. Over 100 million PNP videos have been viewed, so it’s definitely a winner with Santa fans around the world.

* Get creative with your decorations. This concept might be slightly terrifying at first, but if your holiday decorating has started to feel same-old, same-old, then it’s time to get creative. Really deck the halls this year to immerse yourself in the holiday spirit, or get personal with your tree trimmings. Gather everyone together to make some DIY ornaments, and you’ll end up with a tree as unique as your family. You can also decorate your home by hanging your favorite pictures from holidays past to rekindle fond memories and spark lively stories.

* Rethink family traditions. If today’s hectic schedules have caused your family’s special holiday moments to go by the wayside, now’s the time to bring them back. Think back to what you most enjoyed when you were a small child, from favorite stories to the cookies your mom made each year, and renew these happy memories with your own kids. You can also start some brand new family traditions, like caroling around the neighborhood or following Santa’s journey around the world on Christmas Eve with NORAD’s Santa Tracker.

* Write a letter to Santa Claus. In this digital age where everything is text, stream and email, the big guy still likes his old-fashioned letters. So why not write him one? Sit down with your children to help them create the perfect message to Santa and you may discover a few more gift ideas as well. When you’re finished, send your letters to: North Pole Holiday Postmark, Postmaster, Postmark 4141 Postmark Dr., Anchorage, AK, 99530-9998; and don’t forget to add Santa Claus, North Pole in the return address line. Finish the event by taking your little scribes on a special trip to the post office to drop them in the mail.

* Reach out and connect. The holiday season provides that rare opportunity when you can catch up with friends and loved ones you may not otherwise see during the year, so don’t miss out. If an in-person visit isn’t in the cards this year, try a Skype video chat, send images of your home and family dressed up for the holiday in an email, or simply call. Any of these options will help you reconnect, and leave everyone smiling.

The holidays are here, so put your calendar down. The moment you stop planning and start enjoying, you’ll once again find the fun that makes the holidays truly great, and maybe, even a little bit magical.

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