I get a little bit excited about giving, during Christmas in particular. In fact, I start planning next year’s gifts, oh, around January 1st. (I wanted to publish a post like this then, but I figured most of you aren’t as weird as I am about this.)
The reason I get so excited about Christmas is because a few years ago, Ian and I decided to change our approach to how we did gifts.
Up until that point, it was all about what I got (or didn’t get). I would wake up Christmas morning, wait for my husband and kids to get up and then we’d tear into our presents. For about 2.5 seconds, I was happy with what I got. And then disappointment flooded in. That’s it? Surely there was a gift hiding somewhere that my husband had forgotten about. Nope. That was it.
Not only did I feel disappointed about the gifts I received, I also felt like something was missing. Like the whole spirit of Christmas or something.
It wasn’t until we saw a video by Advent Conspiracy, whose tagline is worship fully, spend less, give more, love all, that we saw a way to change things. Of course! We were doing Christmas wrong. We could feel it in our hearts on Christmas day as we sat surrounded by wrapping paper and piles of stuff.
We wanted greater focus on giving and service. We also thought it would be nice to start some new traditions. And of course, there were presents to deal with.
Ian and I enjoy giving gifts. We do not, however, like the idea of our kids growing up and equating Christmas with lots of presents. We want them to think of Jesus. And giving. And relationship. Therefore, we (I say we, but many times I threw something out and Ian shrugged and said, “sure”) decided that we would change the way gift giving was done at Christmas.
It’s been a gradual process of steering away from consumerism and focusing more on the people in our lives, but it’s been so rewarding.
When I approached our families about changing things up, I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, they embraced the idea (especially the spending less part) and we’ve been practicing these last few years at giving gifts that are more intentional. I think they’ve gotten used to my crazy ideas.
I have one motive in writing about this: I want you to be more intentional in your giving.
Not because I want you to be more like me or go radically minimalist, but because I have a feeling that you’ve felt that same nagging, the ache in your soul for more, especially during the holidays: More love. More peace. More fulfillment. More contentment.
There’s probably also a desire for less: Less stress. Less Christmas debt. Less disappointment. Less feeling like you’re completely missing the point.
Intentional giving can help. And, since there’s still almost two months until Christmas, there’s plenty of time to do giving in a way that serves others and brings you joy.
I wanted to share a few ideas for giving more intentionally, in case you’re like I was when we started this and have no clue what that looks like. It’s simple. And fun. And once you get started I think you’ll quickly get the hang of it.
This one was pretty simple to decide on. How many, though? We finally settled on 3, but that took us a few years to get to. The first year we gave the kids 5 gifts, then 4 and finally 3. This year, we’re actually only planning on 1 or 2 gifts (probably used or homemade), with some yummy goodies in their stockings.
I’ll probably buy something for my husband (ok, I know exactly what I’m buying, but he reads my blog so I can’t tell) and make him something else. He loved these coupons that I made him last year.
I admit, this was really hard for me initially. I grew up getting lots of presents at Christmas. And last year, I had one or two. I wanted the change and instigated it, but I still had some feelings of “where’s the rest?” I think this change is having more impact on me than the kids.
In the past, I’ve purchased things for the kids or others simply because I had a specific number of gifts in mind that I wanted to purchase. I didn’t put any thought into the gifts and now that I think of it, they usually weren’t used.
Therefore, I like to put some thought and prayer into the gifts we give our loved ones. I look at their needs, hobbies, food preferences and go from there. It never hurts to ask them for ideas.
The people who know exactly what they want and request it, oh, six times, are great. If your father-in-law mentions how much he wants a Home Depot gift card for all of his home improvement projects, get him one. No need to get all creative on a cute gift basket. Get him the card. Lesson learned.
Other suggestions I have on this are gift cards to the college bookstore for students, amazon.com gift cards for Kindle purchases (hint, hint) or gift certificates for babysitting for a family member.
The important thing is to really think about the recipient and what would bring them the most joy.
I tend to get over ambitious and pile a ton of things on my plate. And then I add more.
A few words of advice for making gifts: start early, earlier than you think necessary, keep a list of gifts you’re making and when you want them to be finished by and keep it simple.
Use the time that you’re making the gift to think of the recipient and pray for them. And just because something is homemade doesn’t mean it needs to be a scarf or hat or fruitcake. There are so many gifts you can make yourself that can bring delight to a loved one.
Here’s a list of things I tend to give:
- Healing balm
- Laundry detergent (I get asked for this every year)
- Essential oils
- Crocheted hats
- Homemade goodies (like these apple hand pies and salted caramel sauce)
- Lavender Mint lip balm
- Homemade bar soap
And if you’re looking for ideas for packaging those gifts so they look amazing, check out the new ebook, Beautify Your DIY, from Healing for Real. It’s a gorgeous book with lots of great ideas and some printable resources.
Give to Others
A few years ago, I got a Christmas catalog for a ministry we support called Gospel for Asia. As I thumbed through, I got so excited about all of the gifts we could give to someone who actually needed something new.
We ended up giving some bunnies and chickens to help families create a sustainable income. And then we gave cards to our loved ones letting them know that a gift was given in their name to help someone in need (I think we also gave them some freshly baked cookies).
There are many organizations you can do this with, but I do have a special place in my heart for Gospel for Asia. If you’re thinking about doing something like this, please check out their Christmas catalog.
Also, we’ll be using 10% of commissions I earn from sales of the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle through my affiliate link to purchase gifts through the Gospel for Asia Christmas program. Thanks so much for your support.
Looking for ideas for more homemade gift ideas?
The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle sale is a great place to get ideas for intentional gifts.
Several books contain recipes for natural health and skin care items that would be great for gifts. Or you can even give the books themselves (if you’re giving a book, you just have to delete it from your computer – or you can buy complete bundles to gift to others).
You can also give some of the goodies you get in the bonus section.
What kinds of gifts are you giving this year?