Being somewhat of a minimalist, I instinctively keep the number of gifts relatively low, but that can be tough for those with a natural giving spirit to keep it under control, especially this time of year. So I've rounded up several giving 'themes' to help simplify the buying and giving this year. This blog post is all things KIDS, because they're the ones receiving the lion's share of presents, aren't they?! (next up will be ideas for adults, but for the sake of simplicity, we'll tackle one at a time)
The 3 Gift Rule
- "Frankincense": a gift to inspire Spiritual growth; like a Bible or worship CD, or even a movie for little little ones to be introduced to the Bible's stories. (Frankincense was incense given to Jesus to symbolize a spiritual act of worship)
- "Myrrh": a gift that stays close to your body; like clothing items, or a sleeping bag, or special blanket. (Myrrh was an embalming oil typically used in burials, was given to Jesus to symbolize His future death)
- "Gold": a gift the child would see as valuable or desirable; what would top their wish list?! (Gold was a gift of great value, given to Jesus to symbolize His kingship)
The 4 Gift Rule
- Something they WANT: a baby just wants the paper everyone else's presents are wrapped in! Or, a simple wooden toy to chew on would do it.
- Something they NEED: Money in their college fund? Yes! (especially if they're too young to know the point of tangible gifts.) Socks? Pencils for school? A haircut?! Babies would love opening a package of diapers; again, it's the ribbon & paper they're really after ;)
- Something to WEAR: PJ's, winter boots, a cool hat, dress up costumes, you name it.
- Something to READ: Magazine subscriptions are gifts that keep on giving, like little monthly gifts in the mailbox! Babies love flap books, toddlers love the books that read to you, older children could get a book series to read over the break.
How to Include Children in Giving
- Shoebox for children in need: this is typically done by the time December hits, but is a wonderful tradition to kick of the Christmas season. Samaritan's Purse is the most notable organization doing this, but there are undoubtedly local charities in your area doing the same thing, possibly even for local kidis in Foster Care. Just takes a Google search to find out!
- Thrift Store Shopping: even 3 year olds can do this successfully! Give your child a small cash budget, and help them prepare a list of people in the family they'd like to give to, along with some helpful ideas of what that person likes. Then go to the Thrift Store and let them do the shopping. You'll find they're quite creative and thoughtful, and oftentimes, chose hilarious gifts!
- Adopt a family program: this is another good search for Google to help you out with, but we've done it for families with an incarcerated parent, or a single-parent household, or a family in need at the school. We let our daughter pick, wrap and deliver the presents for the kids as 'her' gift to them.
- Advent for Orphans: I saved the best for last! Our family LOVES this tradition. Instead of the daily chocolate treat type advent calendars, we have been so blessed by this advent calendar, put out by Lifesong for Orphans. (It's FREE!) Each day, we are given prompts like "Give $1.50 for every room in your home" or "Give $1 for every night you went to bed with a full belly this week" or "Give $5 for every person in your immediate family". These spur on conversations with our children of why these things, that we take for granted, would be significant in the life of an orphan or child in need. Family members who love them and are present everyday of their life. Full bellies from healthy, safe food. A home with more than enough room. We so look forward to these daily dinner conversations. At the end of the Advent, we total it all up and donate that amount to the work of Orphan Care near and far.