TED Talks That Could Change How You Think About The Holidays

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Screen Shot 2013-11-29 at 2.14.07 PMPhoto courtesy of Ted.com.
Some holiday traditions never get old. There's a certain comfort that comes with stuffing ourselves with stuffing, binge-watching Charlie Brown specials, and even engaging in those semi-awkward dinner table conversations with relatives we only see once a year. But, there's always room for improvement. We turned to TED, the video platform for brainy ideas, to inspire us to make some changes. Now that the tryptophan is wearing off, it's time to kick-start our psychological plans for the season. Here's a TED Talk guide to rethinking the holidays.

Rethink Your Holiday Vacation Plans

Stefan Sagmeister may be the most enlightened boss of all time. Every seven years he closes his New York-based design firm for one whole year — yes, a full 365 days — to let his creative team recharge and refocus and arrive back at work 12 months later like new hires fresh out of design school. During your own winter break, be it this four-day weekend or a potential furlough near Christmastime, imagine what you'd do with a paid year off and get your family in on the conversation. Extra points for the cameo by Lou Reed's face in this TED talk.

Rethink Your Holiday Shopping List

Earning the title of Phenomenal Gift Giver is possible with the right amount of creative thinking and the occasional Groupon. But, what happens when Secret Santa saddles you with that one gloomy relative, the downer at work, or the recently-dumped friend who can't get out from under his raincloud? How about the gift of happiness? Michael Norton, a researcher at Harvard Business School, took a closer look at how gift giving and receiving really translates to happiness. The takeaway? You don't have to spend as much as you think.

Rethink Your Kids' Holiday Wish List

Before you elbow your way to the front of the Toys 'R' Us check-out counter with a cart full of giggling Elmos, consider the wisdom of Gever Tulley. The software engineer believes pocket knives and spears are valuable educational tools — and, with the right supervision, so is a blazing hot fire pit. You don't have to agree with Tulley to appreciate his theories. If nothing else, this video will make you feel like an awesome parent for buying your kid, well, anything this holiday season. It could be worse, they could be getting pieces of your broken dishwasher instead.

Rethink Your Post-Holiday Dating Strategy

Dumping season is upon us. Some call it the "turkey drop," others just call it emotional hell, but either way the weeks before Christmas are littered with newly single status updates. Inevitably, online dating sites see a statistical spike in activity right after the holidays, when it's game on for the formerly bereft. Enter digital strategist Amy Webb, the woman who hacked the online dating scene, and — with the help of a few spreadsheets — discovered the algorithm for "the super-profile." In the process, she found a permanent holiday dinner date. She also found that her algorithm for winning over people online, doesn't work as well when it comes to family functions. Some things are beyond our control.