I love giving gifts at Christmas. The packages, the wrapping paper, the bows and ribbons and tags...the surprises and smiles and joy...I love it all.
But I kinda have to be careful to keep my perspective right about gifts and presents at Christmastime. Because it can kinda get out of control. And sometimes I lose perspective. Sometimes the presents become more important than His Presence. Sometimes what I give (and how much I give) drowns out why I give.
Sometimes I forget:
Christmas is not so much about the gifts as much as it is about the One came to be the Gift...it's not about receiving presents so much as it's about embracing His Presence...it's not so much about the things we get as it's about the love we give.
"We love because He first loved us." (1 John 4:19) We give because He gave.
I want my girls to know why we give gifts at Christmas...not because we have to or because we might get something in return...we give because we love. Giving gifts is one way we remember: God already gave us the greatest Gift, the only Gift we ever really need...Jesus. And we can give because He gave. God blesses us so that we can be a blessing to to others, God fills us up so that we can be poured out, God gives us so many good things so that we can overflow with good to everyone around us.
So I try to be intentional about how we give and how we talk about giving at Christmastime. And we look for ways to be generous and give to others. We make lists of gifts to give, not out of obligation or because of what we think we may get in return...but as a way to love.
There are three ways we think about giving: giving to others around the world, giving to others in our own community, and giving to each other (our family and friends).
Loving the world by giving: Right now we have three gift catalogs sitting on our table: the Compassion Gift Catalog, the World Vision Gift Catalog and the Show Hope Gift Catalog. It is so fun going through the catalogs with the girls, picking out things that we can give to help others around the world.
Loving our neighbors by giving: Our community is also full of ways that we can give, if we take the time to open our eyes to see the needs and the ways that God has gifted us to help. Whether it's donating to a local food bank, buying presents for a child through the Angel Tree, or helping out a neighbor or blessing a stranger on the street...there are lots of ways to give right here where we live.
Loving each other by giving: I won't lie, we love filling all the space around the Christmas tree with presents, with gifts of love for each other. We love giving gifts to all of our family and friends. And the girls love to give their own gifts to everyone too. But the cost of all of that giving can add up...and while I want my girls to be generous givers, I also want to teach them wise stewardship (and going in debt at Christmas because of excessive spending is not very wise...I know, because I've been there...) So one way we have found to make it possible for us to give to each other and not break the bank while doing it is to make a lot of our gifts. A little creativity goes a long way...and a homemade gift is like wrapping up a bit of your heart. (I say this on a year when we didn't make anything homemade, lol...we just got creative in other ways and started saving up things here and there throughout the year instead of buying everything all at once. But I do usually love to make homemade gifts...and I'm sure next year the pendulum will swing back the other way and our gifts will be filled with homemade touches. ;) ) Another way we have found to allow the girls to shop and buy for everyone in our family and a few of their friends is to take them on a dollar store shopping spree. They make their lists of everyone they want to buy for and then I set them loose in the dollar store to pick out a little something for everyone on their list. I like it because every gift is just $1 no matter what they pick out (which makes budgeting easy), and they love it because they can pick anything they want in the entire store for each person on their lists. I love seeing the joy that they get by getting to pick out their own gifts to give...they get a glimpse of how it truly is more fun to give than to receive. They have come to look forward to this every year. And even though the gifts are not the best quality, and usually end up being something super silly (like the rubber rat that one of them gave my dad one year), it has become a highlight of our Christmas gift exchange...fun gifts that make everyone smile and laugh. It really doesn't have to cost a fortune to have fun and share a little joy at Christmas.
How does your family give at Christmas? What ways do you combat the culture of getting and instead cultivate an attitude of generosity in your family during this season? The struggle is real, isn't it? I'd sure love to hear what you do to focus on giving and not getting at Christmas...feel free to comment and share your family gift-giving traditions! :)
One thing about giving gifts at Christmas that I especially love is wrapping up all the presents and making them extra beautiful...except that it always takes me forever and I make a big giant mess when I do it. But I love it. I usually just pop in some old Christmas movies and spread out all over the living room floor and just wrap for hours. It's awesome. Except when I run out of tape...or gift tags. I always seem to run out of gift tags, so then the presents just get a name written in sharpie on the bottom of them. It works, but I do like gift tags.
So this year I made my own, so all I have to do is print another sheet of them if I run out. And today I'm sharing them with you!
CLICK HERE to download your printable gift tags that you can print and use on your presents this year! Enjoy!!