Go ahead. . . make it all about the gifts! !!!!
Focusing on gifts might be what you’ve been trying to avoid, especially with your little ones. However, I say, “Go right ahead!” As a matter of fact, it will be good for your kids. No, I haven’t lost my mind. What I’m talking about here is directing your kid’s attention to what they are going to GIVE, instead of what they will GET!
But. . . Christmas is about Jesus!
Yes, Christmas is about Jesus. It is all about the gift God gave us by sending His son here to earth. God in the flesh, and ultimately, the sacrifice of Jesus himself for all of mankind. If this is the center of your house all year long, that won’t change at Christmas. Any tradition that you can include to drive this home will help. There are all kinds of traditions: Christmas Eve services at church, advent calendars, devotionals, children’s Christmas plays, service projects, and on and on. These are all good ideas, and should be included in your Christmas plans. Christmas is a special time of year dedicated to celebrating the gift we were given. That is why we give gifts, as an emulation of that gift.
If we are going to give gifts at Christmas, we better make sure that our kids are focused on the giving, not the receiving.
If they are not purposely taught to give, Christmas will be all about getting for them.
As for me . . .
It all started almost 40 years ago, when I was a little girl growing up in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. As the story has been told, my parents grew tired of the rush and stress of purchasing many gifts each for my siblings and me, loading the tree to overflowing with wrapped boxes, and then having us all tear into them in a few short minutes. We were thrilled with the abundance for a few short days, and then many of the things got shoved to the back of the closets, or wherever, and were never used. I think, also, my parents were discouraged by a general ungratefulness that they sensed.
So, one year, at the beginning of the holiday season, my Dad gathered us all around for a meeting to reveal his plan for this fateful Christmas. We were on a Christmas budget. That didn’t sound fun. We would each receive ONE gift from each family member. WHOAH! One gift?!!!!! How could this BE? Dad sounded rather excited, but this was a bad idea, I knew it was! Now, there were five of us total, so we would get a total of 4 presents each, but this is not how I heard it. Each of us would receive $100. Yeah, now this was sounding better! We would each be responsible for buying a gift for each of our family members. And, the biggie, NO GETTING THINGS THE PERSON NEEDED! maybe Mom was tired of getting kitchen appliances? Who knows. But this one rule turned the whole thing into a bunch of fun! No other rules. We could spend what we wanted on each gift, as long as we bought for everyone, and as long as we didn’t go over the $100. We would get no more. Okay, so this might be alright, I thought.
With everyone on board, we set off for our shopping trip. . .
All in all, the plan was ingenious! Our focus suddenly became on the other guy. What would we buy for this person? What would that person like? There was the squeal factor, or the surprise level; the goal became getting the present that the person would like most of all! This was in the early 80’s, so $100 went a little farther than it does today, but still, it wasn’t extravagant, you had to be creative! No more Christmas lists. All of our attention was directed at trying to sleuth out what everyone else wanted the most, and conniving how to get it for them.
We had a ball, and when Christmas morning rolled around, everyone was thrilled with everything they got! I think it was topped off by the satisfaction of having given a present that was so well received! It became a family tradition that lasted until we were all grown.
Our own family . . .
Later, when my first kids were too little to handle money, we started them making things for people. They were 3 and 4 when they made their first Christmas presents for Grandparents and other relatives. And from there it just grew. By the time the oldest were 10 and 11, we were taking off regular school activities the whole month of December to do Christmas crafts! Everything from scrapbooks to bath salts, we baked for the elderly and friends, made tree ornaments for Sunday School teachers and youth leaders. We were busy. It was even a little frustrating for grandparents, because there have never been Christmas wish lists. There were lists alright! Extensive lists of what they were going to make or buy for each person they loved. Lists of supplies they would need, to do lists and plans. They were always busy planning what they would do for everyone on their list . . . and busy doing it!
And Now. . .
Our family has evolved and changed. The big kids are moved out on their own, one with a family of her own!
To this day our family Christmas is gift centered! And I am unashamed. We don’t worry about fancy gifts, we don’t spend a ton of money on gifts (there will be 11 around our tree this year, so it will be simple!). Each one is thought of and effort is made to please them, by each person. I never want anyone to feel burdened by financial obligations, the amount spent is never an issue. It is just fun when everyone involved is thought of by each of the others. As our family grows, and each of the kids have new families, I suppose this will change out of necessity. However, I will be happy to see how each of their own families traditions of gift giving evolve, and the ways they teach their kids to give!
We, who are still here at home, are planning crafts to do for siblings and grandparents. Every year, the littlest older girl buys up craft supplies and then has a day (or two. . .or three) where she brings the little kids over to her house to make Christmas presents. All the older kids prefer to make presents, even though their schedules do not always allow for that these days.
Gift Centered Christmas of your own
So, how will you go about ensuring that your kids aren’t focused on getting material things this year? I highly recommend steering them toward a giving mindset.
Whether you give them a set amount of money and encourage them to think of what others would want, or you brainstorm with them and walk knee deep in craft supplies for a few weeks, or your kitchen becomes spattered with flour and chocolate for several days on end; it is up to you. The lesson that becomes ingrained on their hearts from these experiences will be far more valuable than any other gift you could give them. And the memories will be far more precious, and last far longer than anything money could buy.
With these canvas, stretched or board, you can make endless things, pretty and functional. Kids can do their own paintings for Grandparents, or if they are little, they can paint, and then attach ribbon for a picture holder (and of coarse, attach a few pictures of themselves!)
Scrapbooks are such a fun way to spend time with your kids! AND Grandparents love them! We have great memories of the year we made scrapbooks for everyone . . . right girls? Well, maybe just pick one or two people at a time, it did get a bit overwhelming! . . . but they are great memories that they still bring up, and everyone laughs, so there was no permanent damage done 🙂
Also, follow my Gifts and Christmas boards on Pintrest for more ideas!