Re-thinking Gift-Giving: Part One, Kids & Gift-Giving

Thrifty Thinking

RE-Thinking Gift-Giving @

I am sorry I haven’t posted Thrifty Thinking for a few weeks.  After I was without my computer for over a week, my husband’s hard drive went out on his computer and we were back to sharing computers again.  He got his computer back the day before we drove from Western Washington to the Denver, Colorado area for JSarr’s niece’s wedding.  We arrived back home the Tuesday night before Thanksgiving, put on Thanksgiving dinner and did some moderate Black Friday Shopping (I was out at 5:00am, and no earlier).  Then I was out shopping with my girls on Saturday (taking each separately) for Christmas gifts!  This week I had a rehearsal with a jazz band, so I can play piano in a fundraiser to raise money for diapers and formula for Ethiopian orphans with a performance tomorrow.  All that said, it’s been a busy November, and we haven’t slowed down a lot.  I like to put some thought into Thrifty Thinking, so I haven’t felt like I had some complete thoughts to share the past few weeks.

As we enter the holiday season, I have been thinking about gift giving a lot.  God has given us a good (amazing, wonderful, marvelous) Gift in His Son, and like my Heavenly Father, I want to give good gifts, too.  I honestly love gift giving.

The thing is I feel like I am battling commercialism with my kids.  The past two or three years I have found myself constantly saying to my kids (ages 3, 5, & 7) that “we give good gifts because God gave us His Son.  We should never expect a gift, but should always receive with thankful hearts.”  Yet in the back of their minds I know they are expecting gifts by the way they talk.

Most of the gifts we give our kids fall into one of these categories:

  • practical, based on needs like socks & tights
  • consumable, like food, gum, coloring books, lip balms, etc…
  • thrifty, homemade or purchased on a sale
  • even a few fun things (this year they are getting a scooter to share)

I LOVE taking my girls (ages 5 & 7) out Christmas shopping.  I love hearing their hearts when they are thinking of each other and buying a gift for their dad, brother, and sister.  I also love that they use their own money (approximately $1/gift) so they understand there are limits, and we can’t buy everything we want even if the gift is for someone else.  I think our 7 year old is really starting to understand that, yay!!  I just hope when they are the receiver of the gift that they remember why they are receiving a gift, and that they receive it with a grateful heart even if they aren’t fond of the gift, remembering the motive of the gift giver.

I still want to give gifts, and I will continue to remind them of why we do what we do, that we are celebrating the birth of God’s Son, and that He lived a perfect life – and died on our behalf – that we may live through Him…even when we aren’t so perfect. :)

What do you do to battle commercialism? Do you give gifts at Christmas?  If so, why?  What is your motive?

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  1. says

    Interesting question, one that no one else seems to be asking.

    A number of years ago, when my kids were young and still at home, my husband lost his job. As Christmas approached and we used up our reserve funds on rent and food, I began to wonder what we would do for Christmas. Our church helped somewhat with food, but as the weeks went by, the pantry became more and more bare. There was no sign of a job and as the days went by I began to eat less so that my kids would have enough to eat.

    I also began to worry about Christmas. We had never actually focused on the material part, but we did exchange gifts. In fact, because they both had birthdays so close to Christmas, I used that as an object lesson: “A birthday is a celebration of a person. On your birthdays you get presents because we love you. On Jesus birthday, we give presents because we love Him.” Every year, in fact, we would discuss and plan a birthday present for Jesus, i.e. something we would do for someone else because as we did for the least, we did for Him.

    That year, with no money, I knew that they understood that, but I also knew of the childlike excitement of anticipating Christmas morning and presents under the tree. Our food was down to a jar of peanut butter and a box of stale ice cream cone cups in the cupboard. I had never felt so much dispair. I found myself on my knees, begging God to help. It seemed to me that we do an almost cruel thing by fostering that Christmas anticipation among our children. I thought about all the Samaratians Purse gift boxes we had sent as birthday persents to Jesus, and wondered what happened to those children after the organization moved on.

    God is so good. A few days before Christmas, a huge box arrived in the mail. It was loaded with Christmas presents for the kids from relatives who had never before sent a thing for Christmas. The amazing thing was that no one in that part of the family is even saved, yet the Lord prompted them to answer my prayer.

    My dad sent money for Christmas so I was able to buy food and a job for my husband was found soon after that. I reckon you might say this was the Christmas I’ll never forget.

    • says

      Leigh, Thank you so much for sharing your story! Praise the Lord for His grace in providing for you! He really is so good! Blessings to you!

  2. says

    I love all the ideas you posted in your series. A friend inspired me to try this too. This year, I’m using fabric to wrap my gifts. I’ll be using old fabric scraps and raffia to secure the fabric. I can’t wait to have less headaches as I put these simple wrappings together.

  3. Michelle says

    As my mother would say, PERSEVERE! It is good that you continue talking to them about the true meaning of Christmas. We struggle with the commercialism, too. I have found avoiding outside mention of Christmas is the best way-and pretty easy, since we homeschool. That means the tv and radio stay off and I try not to go shopping with them any more than I have to, certainly, avoiding stores like Walmart like the plague. Also, actively looking for ways to help the poor or those not able to have a good Christmas (giving up buying a treat to put the money in the Salvation Army kettle is GREAT!). Once they get that good feeling, they will be hooked on doing good deeds if you continue encouraging them in it. Like Tracey, I also try to avoid wrapping paper. I made pillow-case type bags for the bigger gifts, will use a bedsheet or blanket for even bigger gifts and I have re-usable “velvet” boxes I put smaller gifts in. And like you, we try to give thoughtful gifts, not big extravagant and useless gifts. I especially like things like playdoh and kits that teach them a new skill or hobby like snap circuit kits (electricity) or gives them something to do! On a side note, I truly believe the gift giving should come on the Epiphany (when the 3 kings gave gifts to Jesus), if at all. I think His birthday is so important, it shouldn’t be made little by distractions such as worrying about shopping or am I going to get what I wanted? My kids agree with me… now to get hubby on board…MERRY CHRISTmas!!! and God bless you and your family.

  4. says

    This is a great reminder for all of us! A few years ago we started the same idea – to have the kids buy their siblings gifts with their own money.

    It’s refreshing to see them walk into a store and anticipate what they could buy their brother/sister without first looking for themselves. It also makes them have to really think about what that person likes/dislikes and realize that everyone doesn’t like the same things they do.

    Thank you for sharing on Healthy 2Day Wednesdays!

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