We were always broke when I was growing up, but my mother was a terrific cook. So for Christmas, instead of presents, mom would have the three of us (siblings) decide together on a country that we were interested in, and then she would read up and make us a traditional meal from that country. It gave us a chance to try out new foods we'd not otherwise get exposed to, since dining out at a German or Vietnamese or Ethiopian restaurant would be too expensive, and I fondly remember those meals and the things we learned together about the countries we chose. I know we did those three countries, because they really stick out in my mind; I'm sure we also did Spain and Italy and France, since they're easy (at least, more common) meals to make in the US. Unfortunately, for several of the years, I've forgotten what countries we did.
I was really saddened when, after we all grew up, she reverted to more traditional Christmas meals and gift events.