Are you longing for a more meaningful Christmas? How you give gifts can make a big difference! Here’s how my family keeps Christmas gift-giving sacred and simple.
By Katie Bennett, Contributing Writer
I love Christmastime! It is festive and exciting and worshipful.
It makes me happy and fills my cup for so many reasons. One of those reasons is that I love giving gifts.
Now, I haven’t always had the same vision and excitement for that part of Christmas.
After all, gift-giving can be stressful when we have lots of people on our obligatory “list” and no idea what they would like –not to mention the cost.
However, several years ago, God opened my eyes to a better way of giving gifts. And it has changed how our family celebrates Christmas from the core.
Rather than joining in with our culture’s hyper-consumerism, we dial way back as a family and settle into contentment, meaning, simplicity and depth at Christmastime.
In a nutshell, here’s what gift-giving means and looks like for my family.
Gifts Given Within Our Immediate Family
Each year, we find space in our schedule to have a quiet, simple little gift exchange and “Christmas morning” at home as a family. For us, this doesn’t necessarily have to be on December 25th. It’s amazing how much a little bit of flexibility can de-stress a holiday!
On whichever day we designate, we wake up and share homemade cinnamon rolls and breakfast casserole. Then we read about the birth of Jesus from a children’s Bible, pray together and talk about what God did at Christmastime. It’s sweet.
We explain that God gave us Jesus because he deeply loved us, and to celebrate that, we are giving each other gifts for the same reason —love.
Each family member receives a stocking filled with a few little items. My husband and I even fill a stocking for each other because we’re goofy like that! In addition, each child will receive one or two gifts from us, and one from each sibling. Because the gifts are few, they are well thought out, anticipated and appreciated.
We take turns giving, receiving and opening gifts one at a time, going in order from youngest to oldest and then looping back through until all presents have been enjoyed. The person giving the gift physically places it in the hands of the one receiving.
I love that my children get to make a strong connection with us and one another both as a giver and a receiver!
Gifts Given Outside of Our Family
We also have a way of thinking about gifts given outside the family that adds depth as well.
Essentially, we’ve freed ourselves from empty, obligatory giving. We do not buy “shot-in-the-dark,” random gift sets or sweaters or gadgets in an effort to cross people off our list.
On Black Friday you’ll find me enjoying a cup of coffee with my family, reading books with my kids and their cousins, or riding 4-wheelers on my parents’ property. This is not the time I choose to do most of my Christmas shopping because the items I mostly give can’t be purchased off a shelf on Black Friday.
So what do I do for the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins if I don’t buy all Black Friday has to offer for them?
I first set the expectation. Several years ago when I was a newly full-time mom, we determined that we would spend about $10 per family on gifts, and we let everyone know that well in advance!
That’s the most we could do at the time, since our spending money was at zero, and everyone was absolutely fine with that! It was nice to know they knew what to expect so there wouldn’t be a feeling of guilt if the gifts “didn’t match.”
Then I sought gifts that were personal or relational in nature. If I thought an individual would truly enjoy having a certain item (based on my relationship with them), that’s what I bought.
Otherwise I chose items that represented our relationship in some way, such as photo gifts or personalized crafts.
Beyond that, each year I choose a craft to make. This is something I can put my effort into, and then distribute them to friends and family knowing they’re receiving a labor of love. To me, a homemade gift is an easy way to taking giving deeper, as it represents care, time and heart, exactly what I want to express to those in my life.
If you’re looking for creative, special ideas, check out my Meaningful Gifts Pinterest board all year long.
So let me challenge you to do Christmas differently this year. Let’s replace stress, dept, loneliness, entitlement and excess for depth, meaning and connection with God and others. Let’s make our Christmas gift-giving sacred and simple.