12 Most Jolting Ways to Limit Electronic Interference this Christmas

12 Most Jolting Ways to Limit Electronic Interference this Christmas

Hark, the Harold angels tweet!

Christmas is this week, and with every year comes a new and improved version of “Well, in my day…” complaints about lost respect and traditions. I prefer a less distracted version of family get-togethers.

If you would like to have a Christmas where everyone is truly “there” when you pull the family together, here are some tips to cut down on the electronic distractions of modern society.

1. Establish expectations

Make the effort to communicate your desire for a “smartphone free” Christmas dinner (or whatever your ideal scenario is) before your family gets together. An engaged conversation requires engaged participants, and you should make your desires clear. (Also, in case you haven’t told them already, tell you teenagers that using the phone at the dinner table is never acceptable. )

2. One television — maximum

Can you tell the difference between watching a movie with the family and killing time with the television on? When in doubt, turn the d**n thing off.

I don’t like multiple televisions. (We have one television at home, but I admit, it is a large one.) Christmas is an especially inappropriate time to let multiple idiot boxes divide your clan of idiots… I mean, your loving family. If your family needs television on Christmas, force them to at least agree to watch one television together.

3. Leave ’em in the car

What do you really need to bring with you to Grandma’s house? Here are a few things you should leave in the car: Blackberry, I-Phone, Droid, Nintendo DS, Gameboy*, Leapster, PSP, i-pod, mp3 player, portable DVD player, I-Pad, Kindle, laptop, nook, GameGear, Sony Reader, Tag Junior, WikiReader, Playbook, and netbook.

*Yes, my kids still drag my old Gameboy and games around.

4. Silent mode

Vibrate mode is for cheaters. Silence your phone for the day.

5. Print some pictures

There is a certain tactile satisfaction from a professionally printed picture. Plus, pictures can be passed around through-out the evening; it is difficult to pass around your phone if you leave it in the car.

Even folks that see pictures of your children on Facebook every week will “ooh and ahh” at developed pictures of the family.

6. Kill the stereo

Do you know what makes Christmas music special? Everyone knows the melodies. It might sound strange (literally) but until the mid-twentieth century, people listened to Christmas music live. That is, if you wanted to hear Christmas music, you went to a concert, waited for carolers, or sang it yourself.

Someone in your family CAN play that dusty piano stuffed in the corner. Break out the guitar. Or maybe, just maybe, you can convince everyone to try to sing a song or two.

7. Microwaved hot cocoa sucks

Sorry, but hot chocolate made with packets of brown dust and “nuked” water just is not good enough for Christmas. Yes, I know the stove is an electronic. I don’t remember any wood-burning microwaves in the history books, though. In this case, an electric (or gas) stove top is old-fashioned enough.

Use real milk, not that 2% stuff, and well…. I like a little Irish in mine, if you know what I mean.

8. Skip the “Merry Christmas” text messages

When did we all start sending mass text messages on every holiday? If you want to wish me a Merry Christmas, do it. A card is nice. A personal visit is better. I’ll even go so far as to say using your phone to make a phone call is acceptable. Mass texts or emails feel insincere and lame.

9. Buy some candles

There is something almost magical about candles. Candles in the windows are more special than Christmas lights on the house. Candles on the dinner table create a somber mood of reflection. Candles and a warm fire in the fireplace are guaranteed to reduce the volume of your gathering. Your family will be less likely to sneak in some electronics if they notice the house is being lit with 19th century technology.

10. Limit the video camera time

Men are especially guilty of hiding behind a video camera. We would often rather “capture the moment” than be in the moment. If you want to remember this holiday, make it worth remembering. Stop hiding behind the lens and get close to people.

11. Don’t give electronics as gifts

You are not required to buy your teenage daughter the i-pad she wants. Your son will live without the latest Madden Football videogame. (Even my four-year-old son has electronics at the top of his Christmas list this year!) If you want to interact with your family on Christmas, don’t buy them more electronics to come between you and them.

12. Unplug the WIFI router

Bwahahahaaa! When your pleas for everyone to come join the game of Monopoly go ignored, there is always the nuclear option. Netflix, X-Box Live, Pandora, Email…. A long list of activities is eliminated if “the internet is out.” Unplug the router and hide the power cord.

“Hey kids, who wants to help with my new 5000 piece ‘Antartica’ puzzle?”

Featured image courtesy of hyper7pro licensed via Creative Commons.

Jeremy Powers


After nearly a decade of branding and marketing for large companies, Jeremy is now Principal at Winding Staircase, where he wants to help you with marketing your company.

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Danielle Brock
Danielle Brock

I know it's a bit late Jeremy but we used these tips this past Chirstmas and had probably the best, most family centered Christmas we ever had! Getting rid of the extra TVs definitely helped. Looking forward to next year!


Not sure I can do it, Jeremy! There just comes a time when I've had enough family togetherness and I just want to be with my tribe. :)

Have a very Merry Christmas!


Wow, harsh therapy Jeremy ;). I like a lot of them, and yeah...I probably will not abide by several even though they are great ideas.

I did like that one television max. We still have to line up our Christmas shows to watch as a family. That generally includes It's A Wonderful Life, both Grinch's (animated and Jim Carrey), then the typical puppet ones.

Merry Christmas!


Many of these suggestion -- which are all great and important -- could be solved by a good ol' fashioned blizzard! Having said that, just unplugging yourself and focusing on the family around you are better ways to live in the holiday spirit... Thank you!

PaulBiedermann moderator

Great post, Jeremy!

My mother laid down the law over Thanksgiving prepping the grandkids weeks in advance that there would be no digital devices that day (and actually, this went for the adults too). It worked, but only marginally (bathrooms are great for sneaking a few tweets).

PegFitzpatrick moderator

Really fabulous post Jeremy!

You have a gift for translating humor & sarcasm in your writing with exactly the proper tone.

I especially enjoyed "microwaved hot cocoa sucks."



How about NO television - or at least, NO cable/satellite? That way, at least you control what you/the kids watch and limit it to DVDs?


It is never too late for feedback! I am glad the tips brought the family together. It wasn't "Christmas in July" was it? :)



Sometimes your "tribe" is as much family as your blood relatives. ;) If they are that important to you, though, you should consider setting-up a Skype call or two. Christmas is a great time to strengthen all of your relationships, and at a certain point, electronics just get in the way.



I really like the new Jim Carrey version of the Grinch. My kids also really loved "Elf," with Will Ferrell. Merry Christmas to you and your family!



I was snowed in two years ago, but my power and cable never went out. I worked the whole time. I think we could all do with a long weekend in complete "power down." Merry Christmas!



"I have to do something while I am pooping." - Direct qoute from a coworker. Strange times we are living in. Merry Christmas Paul.



Microwaved hot cocoa does suck. That one didn't even strike me as funny. ;) Merry Christmas, Peggy! I am looking forward to more 12Most in the new year.



I am mostly for the "no tv" option. In fact, that is what I originally wrote. However, when I remembered my children, neices, nephews, and parents all laughing together while watching "Elf" last year....I changed my mind. Merry Christmas to you and yours!


@jpJeremy You're right. I need to set up some Skypes! Great idea.


@jpJeremy I think my family might help me write a 12Most post abut the 12 Most Common Expressions heard in the Vickery house...quotes from both Grinch and Elf make the short list, I think.