MacGyvering Your Christmas

BY: KiwiTek

This Christmas I’ve gone back to focusing on taking a more MacGyver approach to things. By MacGyver, I mean making everything more simplistic and relaxed and more focused on people and family traditions rather than the material presents and debts I’ll be stuck with for years to come.

Our traditions start with the decorating of the tree, which we all do together while Christmas carols play in the background. Then on Christmas Eve we have dinner in front of the TV and watch Xmas episodes of our favorite TV shows on DVD. MacGyver, Home Improvement, Knight Rider, then we move on to a Xmas movie complete with popcorn and drinks during which we’re all huddled together on the sofa. That usually takes us through to 10:30-11 pm at which time it’s off for a drive around the town to see all the Christmas lights on houses then home to layout the Santa stockings (in our case pillow cases) with drink and cookies and a handwritten name tag on each stocking, and then, finally, off to bed.

My kids are too old for Santa now, but if you still have Santa aged kids, there are some basic ways you can MacGyver Christmas starting with the choice of what they want from Santa. Be involved and guide them through the decision to make sure they don’t’ ask for something way out of your budget. I always took care to ensure they only got one main present from Santa with the stocking being filled with other small cheap toys along with the usual candy gifts. I also made Santa’s gift the main present for Christmas because Santa always brings the best gift. This teaches kids to prioritize things as well. They may have 10 things on their list, but they’re only getting one, so choose. This can cut down the costs of Christmas dramatically when I only have to worry about one expensive present for each child.

Presents under the tree usually consisted of one present each from me and finished off with presents from other close family members such as grandparents etc. In a case where a gift has multiple parts, they can be given as separate gifts. The example I can think of straight away is something like an Xbox/PlayStation which normally comes with a couple of games included in the pack. Take them out and wrap them separately, 1 present suddenly becomes 3. Even if the main present is from Santa, the others could be under the tree from you. The same thing could go for things like Nerf toys, Barbie dolls, anything which needs or includes accessories, make them separate gifts if you can. Presents are for the immediate family..i.e. my kids. Nephews, nieces, aunties, uncles, etc. don’t get gifts, they should be happy with my presence, not my presents. Even more so if this is the only time of the year I see them.

Love doesn’t come wrapped in paper, it comes wrapped in your arms.

If you focus on the people you are with at Christmas and what the mean to you rather than what they are giving you your Christmas becomes “that most special time of the year” we keep being told about in Christmas songs and stories.


MacGyvering Your Life is a regular series looking at ways we can incorporate aspects of MacGyver’s values, ethics and mindset into our own lives. we encourage feedback and discussion via the comments section below and if you would like to contribute with your own article you can contact us here.



  1. Here’s a Charlie Brown style tree I made this year. The base is pretty much a copy of the one from the cartoon. It’s glued together with epoxy for strength, and a copper pipe fitting makes a socket that holds the tree up. The trunk is a stick I found in my backyard, the branches are cut from a cheap little Christmas tree that belonged to my mom, and the decorations are vintage plastic clothespins that also belonged to my mom. They have little people and animal faces on them.

    Charlie Brown Styled Christmas Tree

  2. My parents decorate their house, so I get my fill of Christmas by visiting them.

    The number of presents I give and receive are minimal but they really count and are specific to that individual. I usually give a joke gift of some kind, along with a real gift, to at least one person, usually related to some inside joke we’ve experienced in the last year. Last year I gave a buddy of mine, who’s a big “Knight Rider” fan, a pair of vintage children’s sized “Knight Rider” mittens with an image of K.I.T.T. on them, complete with a letter from his “evil twin” seeking reconciliation. The letter I created was inspired by Michael Knight and his evil twin Garthe. Again, this was an inside joke between be and my buddy so it’s not nearly as funny to anyone reading this.

    Each year my parents and I get together, usually two weeks before Christmas, and bake anywhere from 10 to 12 different kinds of cookies, fudge, bark, etc. which we give as gifts to friends and neighbors as well as enjoy ourselves. It works out great, with each of us focusing on two or three recipes, with each of us having our own specialty that we’ve made our own. My parents have a good sized kitchen with two ovens and lots of counter space, so we’re all able to work together but not get in each other’s way. Aside from the sugar cookies we make, all the recipes are only made at Christmas time, thereby making sure they’re something special instead of something we eat throughout the year. We usually have Christmas songs playing while we’re baking. The best Christmas song ever, IMO, is Colorado Christmas by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. My family and I identify so much with that song, as we lived in California for a short time and missed the feel we had for Christmas in Colorado.

    Christmas isn’t what it used to be when I was a kid, but then again I shouldn’t expect it to be. As we mature, our perspectives change, so things aren’t better or worse, they’re just different.

  3. We have a large family get together each year on Christmas Eve. Off the top of my head – nothing is too macgyverish or overly elaborate for that matter. The region where I’m from in eastern Canada is one of the major producers and exporters of Balsam Fir Christmas trees and decorations in the world …. so this basically means that you can purchase an 8ft tree for about $30.00 inclusive of delivery to your door. I have switched over to the LED lights in recent years which are incredibly stingy on power usage and emit magically hues as an added bonus.

    Here is last year’s version …..

  4. This will be the first year I’m in my apartment (I moved at the end of June), and the first time in quite awhile that I’ll be putting up my own tree. I have a six-foot fake tree I bought years ago, and while it does look kind of scrawny, once it’s decorated it’s not half-bad. I use strings of gold beads and white lights, and I have a bunch of really cool bird ornaments. This year I’ll also add my new KITT ornament. Wish Paramount would license Hallmark to make an “official” Mac ornament… how about one made to look like an SAK with the show logo on it?

  5. I need to post a pic of our “Charlie Brown Tree” my dad did. X3 We have a this really ugly cedar tree that our neghbors jokingly call Beauty. We haven’t cut down Beauty yet because she’s so close to the power lines and my dad hasn’t been doing well enough to do any heavy work.
    So, last year and the year before, my dad bought this huge red ornament and hung it on one limb. And then he made a sign out of some Styrofoam and old chipboard, and painted, “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!”
    The neighbors get a real kick out of it.

  6. Yeah, Christmas really has become over-commercialized to the hilt these days. I think this is being made worse, by the way, it’s now simply referred to as “the holidays” which has focused on the wrong aspects of it.

    Anyway, one idea I have is to use colored/flavored popcorn and string them together with dental floss (it’s stronger and slides easier than string) to make long strings of colorful decorations that can be used both inside and out. And if you use them outside you’ll provide some winter food for your local birds to peck at.

  7. It’s the return of the Charlie Brown tree, this year with MacGyver theme! I got the idea a couple of weeks ago but found that the tree wanted to topple over out it’s stand from the weight of the knives. The solution was to glue it in, but I didn’t have any epoxy and can’t afford to any right now. I thought it might have to wait until next year, then a couple days ago I found some in my work bench and… Yaaay! These are all the saks I currently own and some MacGyver-ish stuff like a piece of wire, a wrench, a battery (can’t see it though) and a clothespin. C3PO is also hiding in there for no reason at all. I feel like it could’ve been arranged better, but the placement of the limbs makes it hard. The picture didn’t turn out so clear either from lack of light. Anyway, what I proud of here is Finally Finding A Use For The Corkscrew. !!! You can’t actually open a bottle of wine with it (trust me, I’ve tried) but it’s a makes a tree topper. lol

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