Our little family decided to do Christmas a little bit differently over the past few years. Don’t get me wrong: I adore the holiday and love to see all the wonder through the eyes of my children. Yet, the more we know about the very real and challenging circumstances in which our brothers and sisters around the world are living, the more my husband and I feel led to spend less money on meaningless gifts and give more in ways that count.
As a society we have come to make the Christmas holiday synonymous with buying, shopping, and giving stuff. But we don’t have to keep buying in to the world’s definition of what Christmas should be. In fact, if we follow this Jesus, we know that Christmas, if nothing else, is about the great mercy of God, poured out on us through the gift of His son’s very life, sent to save, heal, restore, and bring hope.
Challenge yourself to step back, simplify and savor the holiday, beyond the stuff. What does God-with-us truly mean to your family? How can you celebrate together more intentionally? What does your gift say about the Jesus we celebrate on this day?
As you consider some of these questions for your family, I wanted to share with you seven tips and ideas for giving differently this Christmas:
(1) Bake. Many of us bake cookies and other goodies for the holidays, but consider that a sweetly wrapped tin of cookies is thoughtful and meaningful. You can give goodies as a gift without spending lots of money and without adding something else to it.
(2) Write an old-fashioned, hand-written letter. Be creative and tell your friend or family member ten things you love about them, ten things they do that you appreciate, or list out funny memories you share.
(3) Make it by hand. Handmade gifts are just for kids to make in school. Pinterest abounds with creative ideas and tutorials for Do-It-Yourself gift ideas that you can make for a fraction of the cost.
(4) Give up your presents. Consider setting up a fundraising page with causelife or Operation Baby Rescue and ask friends and family to donate there in lieu of gifts this year. I am asking family to donate to the rescue for my present.
(5) Go second-hand. Some people are completely weirded out by giving thrift store finds as gifts, but consider making a challenge of it. Decide as a family that you must find each others’ presents at the local Goodwill or other thrift store.
(6) Give your time. For a friend, this may be by setting up a coffee date or tea time where you can simply visit and catch up. For a spouse or child, give a gift certificate for a date or special one-on-one time.
(7) Purpose to give only gifts that give back. Consider giving only fairly traded goods and gifts that support working families around the world. The World Help’s Christmas Gift Catalog offers many lovely options!
Now with the money you’ve saved, sow a gift into something that truly matters. Participate in a gift that gives life, like clean water or a baby rescue.
I love how World Help puts this “doing Christmas differently thing” in their new Christmas campaign:
Change the Present.
Watch the 2012 Change the Present Campaign Video on Vimeo
Will you join us in celebrating the Christ child by giving more of your time, your love, your heart to the very people God came to earth for? Will you Change the Present? I can think of no greater gift to bring to the Newborn King this Christmas.
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About Lauren Lauren is a young(ish) mom of three, Jesus follower, wife of a youth pastor, and fair-trade coffee lover. She traveled to Guatemala with World Help in October 2012 and considers herself a passionate advocate for the least of these. Lauren writes about Operation Baby Rescue, faith, motherhood, and justice at mercyINK blog. You can also connect with her on twitter or facebook.