There’s more to the season than 60 seconds of frantic wrapping-paper ripping. These expert tips and proven family favorites will take your holiday cheer to a new, more meaningful level.

By Melanie Mannarino
November 19, 2015

Last year my 5-year-old son woke up early on Christmas morning and opened every. single. present. under the. tree. before my husband and I woke up. When we finally scrambled downstairs, we were speechless. We felt... robbed. The whole point of Christmas morning is to see the happy expressions as your loved ones open the gifts you chose for them. Isn’t it?

“It’s easy to buy the gifts and then see the joy in kids’ faces—it’s instant gratification on both sides,” says Dr. Jeff Gardere, NYC psychologist and assistant professor at Touro College of Medicine. “We each get our emotional fix.” (Or not.) But in a few days the presents are discarded in the corner of the room, he notes. And the real value of gift-giving—the time spent shopping for a person, the thought that went into choosing a present that delights them—is never really acknowledged.

“In reality, it’s more about the experiences we share and the memories we make with our children than about how much money we spend,” says Dr. Gardere. There are many ways to celebrate this season without once consulting an Amazon wish list—or watching your kid open a mountain of gifts. Use these eight ideas as a starting point, and watch your traditions grow from there.

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