1. Don’t participate in gift giving
Instead of buying people gifts they don’t need, let them know you’re not participating and why. Tell them it goes both ways and that you strongly prefer not to receive gifts either. Explain your position so they understand, and be honest. If it’s because you want to organize a family drive for the needy instead, let them know and encourage participation. If you want to reject consumerism, illustrate your reasons without being pushy or judgmental of those who disagree. If you just plain can’t afford it, be honest, I promise they will understand, and it may be contagious – many people feel the same but are afraid to be different.
Be a catalyst for positive change and people will follow your lead.
2. Give to the needy
When did you last spend time helping people in need? There is a reason it is called, “the gift of giving.” Giving to those who have real needs (food, shelter, clothing, transportation) creates happiness for all involved. Call your church and ask where your help is needed most. Give unused clothes – nice stuff, not something raggedy you never wear – to your local homeless shelter. Serve at the food bank and help organize the drive to provide Christmas meals for families who have lost jobs and would be otherwise unable to celebrate the season.
3. Give of your time
You can cook people dinner, do chores around their house, babysit their children while they go out to a romantic dinner, or write letters explaining how people are important to you. Be creative and think outside the box. Spend time thinking about the individual needs of your loved ones so you can do something really special for each of them.
Shoveling driveways for neighbors without telling them is a great show of charity. Help your church put up and take down Christmas decorations… trust me, there is no such thing as the decoration fairy and it doesn’t “just happen.”
Making gifts is another great way to give of your time, and a great way to use your God given talents creating something awesome for those you love.
4. Make homemade gifts
There are many benefits to making homemade gifts. It shows you dedicated time to people. It allows you to use your gifts – if you can cook, give baked goods. If you can woodwork, make toys or simple decor pieces to show you care for them. Make your own cards, gifts, gift labels, or just write people Christmas letters explaining why they are special to you. This will require more of your time but less of your money. When you spend time creating unique gifts for people, it really shows. Especially if you include hand written memories explaining why they are special to you. People love to hear why they are important, think about it… we just don’t get much of that in our culture. Change that this year and do something unique and special for loved ones.
However you decide to give, do it anonymously whenever possible – I promise it’s one of the coolest things you will ever do. Anonymity is one of the secrets of true charitable giving. In the bible the Lord Jesus tells us to give without seeking the praise of men. It shows we believe Him and that we seek His reward in the afterlife and not the praise of men in this life.
“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest [thine] alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.” Matthew 6:1-4
However you give, do so with charity. Be creative and use the talents God gave you to express your love for family, friends, and the needy. You know how you feel about people better than Walmart does… so tap into the power of the season and do something awesome this year.
How will you give while saving money this Christmas?