Christmas dinner is a cherished tradition and, for women over 60, we often feel the urge to go “above and beyond” with unique Christmas dinner ideas.

Especially with so many lifestyle gurus like Martha Stewart showing us how to make beautiful things for our homes and create warm, welcoming experiences for our guests, many women over sixty might find themselves wanting to do something really special for Christmas dinner this year.

But, how can you create a one-of-a-kind Christmas dinner experience without a lot of unnecessary clutter, work and expenses?

Here are a few ideas for how to create some easy Christmas dinner ideas that won’t break the bank.

Share Traditions

Instead of spending a lot of money on Christmas Dinner from a restaurant, or expensive ingredients for an elaborately prepared home-cooked dinner, look for ways to revive some older traditions from the family’s kitchen heritage. Ask the older women in the family to each contribute a favorite recipe, or ask each “branch” of the family tree to contribute a favorite holiday dish for the menu.

Keep it Simple

For a Christmas dinner, keep in mind that your dinner guests are likely to be family and close friends – this is not a business dinner or formal dinner party where the guests are expecting nameplates, fancy table settings, or a different wine with every course.

Keep the focus on the pleasant company and the sharing of stories and laughter – even if that means going with no-frills decorations or a more limited selection of food and drinks.

Get Creative

Christmas dinner doesn’t have to be all about Christmas in the traditional TV/movie sense of snowfall and Santa Claus. Perhaps you could do a “Christmas Around the World” party, where everyone is assigned a country to share some fun and unique aspect of that country’s cultural celebrations.

Or you could try to be creative with the Christmas dinner menu – instead of the usual favorites, you could try a “Hawaiian Christmas” dinner, or a “Chinese New Year” Christmas dinner (many Chinese restaurants are open on Christmas, since many Chinese people don’t celebrate the holiday).

Create Conversations

If you love to decorate, look for ways to turn the table settings into conversation pieces. Whether it’s a family antique at the center of the table or works of art from the grandchildren, try to make the event a bit more “special” even without spending a lot of money.

Focus on ideas that start conversations and build connection. For example, you could have a holiday flower arrangement with small pictures of everyone in the family pinned on with small clothes pins, table mats with pictures from throughout the year laminated onto them, or have the grandkids draw an original table mat with beautiful artwork to enjoy during the meal.

Include Acts of Generosity

Christmas dinner is not just about having a meal together; it’s also a time to reflect on the meaning of the holiday season and to share a sense of gratitude and abundance. Try having a “sustainable dinner” with environmentally friendly ingredients, where there is no waste.

Or before you sit down for your family Christmas dinner, perhaps you could all volunteer to serve dinner at a homeless shelter, or collect a donation to a charitable organization.

Make Dinner Interactive

Even with a loving family and friends, it can sometimes help to do some “icebreakers” or structured activities to help people get some conversations going. For example, you could put questions on the table, with little cards at each place that say things like, “whisper your New Year’s resolution to the person next to you” or “what is on your bucket list for 2014?”

Or you could ask people in advance to send a list of things that no one would guess about them – put them in a bowl and pull them out randomly throughout the dinner to spark conversation.

What was the best or most unique Christmas dinner that you’ve ever been part of? Do you have any other Christmas dinner ideas to share with the community? Please join the discussion.

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