A few weeks before Christmas, I was talking to a family friend who was going away for Christmas. She mentioned that she was going to buy her three daughters their presents after Christmas since they only arrived at their holiday destination a few days before Christmas Day and she didn’t want to buy the presents locally. I asked if the girls give presents to each other, and she said that while they used to, they stopped primarily because she found it was just more stuff in the house. I find that really sad, because in our family, the presents underneath the Christmas tree holds a mystery and excitement – not a mystery of what is under there for me, but an excitement to give the next present. Kids aren’t like that naturally; in our family it was an intentional move by Mum and Dad to make giving more blessed than receiving.
On the other hand; who does want more things in the house if it is going to be just stuff? It is a tricky thing at birthdays or Christmas, when you get presents that you really don’t want, need, or even know what they are for! It can be hard and unmotivating, but I don’t think Christmas presents need to be junk, and they don’t need to take up more space in the house. Here are fifteen ideas that avoid the junk and yet can come from the heart.
- An iTunes gift card for a movie or for music
- Add to or replace things they already have: a pair of sneakers that is well-used, a shirt or two to refresh their wardrobe, some funky stationary from Smiggle – or just add to something they like to do, such as craft supplies, sheet music, or sport gear. The trick is for it to be practical and used, so giving the money as a voucher to go shopping together with later might be the way to go.
- Bake their favourite dessert, muffins, or biscuits
- Give a voucher to do their jobs, wash the car, give free lessons
- Take them out for coffee (or ice cream)
- Add to their favourite collection: foreign coin/stamp/teaspoon – it’s something they really want, is already ‘taking up space’, and is destined to take up more space.
- If they have an iPad, iPod, or smartphone, buy an app they will like and use
- Pay for or send them on an experience – pay for the registration for a term’s worth of sport, take them on a camping adventure, buy two tickets to take them to a movie, a concert, or ten pin bowling.
- If they have a kindle – or a touch device that has the kindle app – buy an ebook from Amazon
- Find a creative way to give money outside of inside a card. One idea I saw was to put some money in a balloon, add some confetti, and blow it up – just don’t let go!
- A TEAR Australia or Compassion gift card (you actually are giving a person or family in a poverty-stricken area a goat, school supplies, or something that will support their livelihood)
- A bottle of lollies, nuts, or chocolate– a friend gave a cork-screwed bottle full of M&M’s to Nomi for Christmas and she loved it!
- A bouquet of flowers
- A plant that they can, well, plant, in their pre-existing garden
- A magazine subscription that will be disposed of, or even better, digital version
No matter what your situation is, if it is important to you to give, you can find a way to work around any situation. What ideas could you add to the list?