Gifts were originally given shortly after Christ’s birth by the wise men. They each had significance and were no doubt used to finance Joseph and Mary’s flight into Egypt. Today we follow this tradition but sadly, gift-giving has gotten out of hand. We’ve become harried and obsessed with having piles of gifts or very expensive gifts, many which get kicked into the corner shortly after they are opened.
The following are some ideas for celebrating Christmas by giving unique gifts which are more meaningful than the store bought variety: (Ideas from Ginger Jurries’s Reclaiming Christmas.)
Gifts of Service
- Write a letter recording your fondest memories of the times you spent together.
- Create a video autobiography to give to family members who will appreciate having this bit of family history. (This can be done with a personal camcorder or by a professional. Deb Moore is a personal historian who helps people write their memoirs and turn them into books. Contact her for help with yours or a loved one’s life story at The Stories Of Your Lives or at 616-957-4264.)
- Give the gift of time (grocery shopping; promise to read books together; play your instrument at a friend’s party; play games with an older, lonely neighbor; make home-cooked meals or cookies; paint neighbor’s house; make flower arrangement; knit, crochet or needlepoint a sweater or scarf; or anything that exemplifies your gift.) You might make a certificate indicating the gift with your signature.
- Bring a Christmas tree to an elderly friend or neighbor and decorate it.
- Wrap a friend’s Christmas gifts.
- Take care of neighbor’s children.
- Clean house for someone who is ill or burdened with children or overly stressed.
- Give a certificate to be redeemed for washing windows, shovel snow, rake leaves or mow lawn.
- Sew something useful such as a laundry bag or flannel shoe caddies for travel.
- Give a score of music you have written yourself.
- Recipe booklet of favorite recipes. (Kinkos will copy and bind the pages and add a clear plastic cover).
- Put together a compilation of favorite stories.
- Plant slips for your garden.
- Plant a tree or bush.
- Send a favorite magazine subscription.
- Write a poem.
- Give a favorite book (used or new).
- Add to a collection.
- Calligraphy a friend’s name with its meaning. Frame it.
- Record a CD of child playing a musical instrument for favorite relative.
- Give a white elephant which is still useful.
- Give something specifically pertaining to Christmas and the birth of our Savior:
Gifts of Experience
Consider these gifts to be engaged in together (or not):
- trip to a museum
- teach how to cook a dish, arrange flowers, carve something from wood, sew, etc.
- plant a garden
- tickets to a concert, ballet or game
- holiday swag or other decoration
- travel to an agreed upon destination to go hiking, biking, snorkeling, etc.
- check to go bungie jumping or other crazy adventure
- a puzzle or game
- tickets to the circus
- gingerbread house to be baked and assembled.
- instructions on how to paint a picture with canvas or water color paper and paints
- bridge or tennis lessons
- favorite DVD
- relaxing CD (Deep Peace; Wine Country Sunset by Jack Jezro, guitar; Ocean Spa Flutes) with certificate for weekly or monthly foot or body massage
- coupons for a boat ride
- binoculars and promise to go birding together
Gifts from the Heart
- anonymous monetary gift or bag of groceries to someone who has recently lost a job
- note to your pastor expressing your gratitude for his/her inspirational messages Include a favorite CD.
- letter to your parents or grandparents thanking them for some of the special ways they have affected your life Be specific.
- restaurant coupons to someone who has just lost a spouse.
- handmade gift such as flower arrangement, baked goodie or scarf
- Christmas ornaments you no longer use
- candle to be lit each night of advent and an advent devotional
- monogrammed stationary
- found object such as sea shell or special rock
www.heifer.org or call 800-422-0474. Heifer International explores solutions to hunger by providing livestock to poor families in third work countries.
Mission Partners in India or call 616-748-6034. Mission Partners India provides schooling for nursery school age children who would otherwise roam the streets while their parents work, stealing in order to buy food. They are given food and taught about Jesus. Often whole families come to know the Lord through them and the miracles God works in their lives.
www.angeltree.org or call 800-552-6435. Angel tree was started by Ms Beard for prisoners to be able to give gifts to their children at Christmastime. Paper angels can be found hanging from trees in malls. Choose an angel and shop for that child whose name appears on the card.
www.idealist.org Contains links to hundreds of non-profit agencies.