This post was originally published November 17, 2011
Before Little Girl’s first Christmas in 2008, my husband and I started talking about and praying through how we would approach gift-giving with our children. Would we lavish them with any and every new toy? Would we do Santa Clause? How would we give to our children without them getting spoiled? How would we, as a family, keep Christ as the CENTER of Christmas?
Some friends of ours a few steps ahead of us in life gave us a suggestion: Just give your children 3 gifts–as the wise men gave Jesus 3 gifts when they visited Him.
Now, some of you may be thinking: “Just 3?! That’s it?!”
Image by Shouftas
Really, if you could come sit down on the couch with me (after, ahem, pushing aside the mound of clean clothes I’m now eyeing on my right), you could look to your left and spy our girls’ play area. Let me just say: These girls have.plenty.of.toys. They are in no way deprived! (I think it may be the other way around!) Beyond just limiting the gifts, we decided to be intentional about the type of gifts. Each of our children will get a:
- need, and a
- spiritual gift.
The want usually ends up being a pretty big gift. Two years ago, we gave Little Girl a toy kitchen with lots of little gadgets and play food to go inside.
The need could be anything from a new sweater to a potty training chair to a new pair of shoes.
The spiritual is where the most creativity comes into play. It could be a play nativity set, a new Bible or, like my husband gave our girls last year, a journal where he records prayers and “love” letters to them.
Our childrens’ grandparents and other family members still give to them as they wish, although we are encouraging them to not feel obligated to give much–or to put the money they would have spent in a savings account.
Since we started this tradition with our girls right off the bat, they will always see Christmas as a time when they receive 3 gifts–just as Jesus received 3 gifts.
It will open up opportunities to talk more about God’s greatest gift of all–and the true reason for the Season–salvation through Jesus Christ.
And Santa Clause? We don’t pretend any gifts come from him. Both of us grew up with Santa, and, no, we do NOT think Santa and Satan are synonymous, but we prayed through things and felt that it was best for our family to keep the gift-giving simple.
Right now, Little Girl thinks Santa is as real as a Disney princess. She knows he says “Ho Ho” and comes out around Christmas. (We don’t live in a bubble.) And my dad even dresses up like him and we put the girls on his knee. But there is no anticipation of what Santa brought on Christmas morning.
When she gets a little older (maybe this year?), we will explain to her that other families do play Santa and children do think he is real, so we need to play along and keep the secret. We think there is nothing wrong with that.
You can check out what we gave our kids the last 4 years here:
How do you do gift-giving at your house?