I suspect I’m not alone—I usually love gift-gifting, but the enforced giving at Christmas is stressful and a strain on the wallet. So here are some ideas for gift-giving with less stress:
In my growing family of four siblings, in-laws, and more and more nieces and nephews, we realised one Christmas that it had taken us two hours to unwrap all our gifts. The balance didn’t seem right. So we decided to pull one name out of a hat, and buy a gift just for that person.
We discovered that the giving and receiving of gifts was just as much fun, but there was less emphasis on the consumerism that often overtakes Christmas.
My friend’s family decided to have a second-hand Christmas. Everything they bought had to be from an op shop—The Family Store being first choice, of course—and could not be over $10. They found some real treasures, the gifts were more creative, and some were lovingly refurbished at home.
Most importantly, it took the emphasis away from finding the ‘perfect gift’, and every offering was accepted with gratitude. It’s also a sustainable option—and better to have recycled knickknacks you don’t need, than new ones!
Many people are starting to re-capture the concept that giving is better than receiving. There are several options now available to give the gift of helping another person in poverty. World Vision’s ‘Smile’ programme, for example, allows you to give gifts in everything from a goat, pig, pencils, toilet—and you can even train a teacher.
Another way of doing this is to agree as a family, that for every gift you buy each other, you’ll donate a gift to your chosen charity. Take along the kids when you give your gifts away, and it may well be the memory that stays with them for life.
If hosting Christmas is your biggest stress, here’s one to help you. Instead of giving gifts, ask each adult to bring along the gift of food for a potluck lunch, and a fun activity to contribute to the day. There is no need for hours of preparation—the fun is in the surprise; and it takes the pressure off trying to create the perfect Christmas dinner. The activities everyone brings for the afternoon is their gift, and with all the fun, no one will miss present-opening time.
Christmas is full of comsumer and family pressure. But most people agree Christmas is really about celebrating the birth of Jesus, and celebrating each other. So why not open up a family discussion and decide on some new traditions to bring back the joy of Christmas?
By Ingrid Barratt (abridged from War Cry, 17 December 2011, p15)