Friday, November 9, 2007

Christmas presents

I was very interested in Bron's recent comment on my post about Christmas traditions.

One tradition I'm hoping to start: instead of the whole presents thing at Christmas, I'd like to have a family dinner where each member of the family makes a contribution. When children are little this could just be 'helping' with something. When kids are older or teenagers if they aren't interested in cooking they could buy something nice to share. I like the idea because it means the focus isn't on individuals, it's on the family. Individual presents are better at birthdays anyway because then it really is a celebration of that person's life.
Bron makes a good point that Christmas isn't supposed to be about individauls: it is about the family and it's about Christ. Giving lots of presents to individuals counteracts this message. I've been thinking quite a lot about Christmas presents recently. A few weeks ago I asked my niece what Christmas was about and all she would say was "presents". This is not surprising, since she has received mountains of them on the two Christmases that she may be able to remember.

I began to think that it may be better to purchase a "family gift" at Christmas time - something that is for everyone. The problem with that idea is that an item that is officially for "everyone" always ends up being more for one or more people than for others. If you buy a swing for the little kids, the older ones don't feel like they "got" anything. If you buy a mat for the living room, it is really for Mum and Dad.

Another idea is that the focus of Christmas giving could be to give to someone outside the family. The family could plan and save together to give money to a worth organisation that helps the poor or persecuted Christians, or spreads the gospel.

Have any of you thought about Christmas presents? If so, I'd love to hear your thoughts.


  1. Sherrin,
    Last year, our family did exactly what you mentioned in your post: instead of giving gifts to each other, we pooled our money and donated it to two organizations through their 'gift catalogs' where you can buy items, animals, supplies, etc. to be sent to needy areas. It was a very stress-free holiday season for me since I didn't have to spend time thinking about what to buy for people. In my extended family, we have done this at times too. For my sister who is a medical doctor, we might donate medical supplies in her honor. For my sister who is a professor, we might donate money in her honor towards educating children. There are so many worthy causes out there!

  2. oh my goodness. we were just talking about this very topic in my house this past week! Must be something the Lord wants us to think about! :)
    I have tons of thoughts on this and plan on posting something for now...Bron's idea is awesome! In the last several years my 2 girls have "helped" by planning the menu, baking the Jesus cake and helping to clean up. more later....

  3. Very interesting topic. We've done a lot of different things in past years, including the one my mom mentioned above. The nice thing is that my mom's extended family is extremely flexible in this regard, and some years families give individual gifts, sometimes family gifts, sometimes a parent gift and a child gift, whatever works best. Now that Adrian and I are married, we have lots of other dimensions to think about! He has 13 nieces and nephews! But his family appears to be flexible too, and we are by no means expected to provide gifts for all, especially when time or budget prevents it. So that's nice :-). We'll probably just do family gifts this year.