A few days ago I was at my mom’s house and she had a giant pile of Christmas gift catalogs on her couch–all kinds of stores with all kinds of goodies. I was supposed to be doing some work with the kids for school but I stacked those little catalogs up next to me because I sincerely love shopping for Christmas! I don’t love walking through the mall but the hustle and bustle of Christmas is exciting!
How are we supposed to keep that hustle and bustle fun and not turn it into a big crazy greed-fest for us and our kids? Well, the best thing I know is to simply GIVE. To take it a step further, I think it’s important to give first. Let your first act of the holidays be to give in a big and significant way.
Here’s 3 of my favorite give-first activities:
If you’ve been around me for even ten minutes, you’ll know that I adore Operation Christmas Child. If you’re not familiar with this fun organization here’s the skinny—you pack a shoebox full of fun toys, toiletries and school supplies. Then, you add $7 for shipping and drop it off at a a pick-up location. From there, the shoebox is shipped to a Processing Center (just to make sure it’s all OK) and then shipped to poor and marginalized kids around the world.
You can read a plethora of thoughts and emotions I have about Operation Christmas Child (especially lots of stuff about my trip to the Dominican Republic with them) but here’s where as a normal Christian American mom, I love Operation Christmas Child so much–-they help my kids not be greedy.
Every year, we are picking out and buying gifts that my kids would LOVE and they don’t get to keep them. In fact, the opposite seems to happen–they get excited about buying and giving away!
The best part is the National Collection Week for OCC is this week–right before the Christmas crazy starts. It’s the perfect beginning to your holiday celebration. Start your kids off looking into Christmas through a shoebox gift. It will change their heart. It’s changed my family.
2. Sponsored Kids Letters
Do you sponsor a child? We sponsor two kids through Compassion International and it is one of our favorite things we do. Every year, Compassion suggests we send our kids’ families money and we usually do. We also like to send them an actual gift–but since you can’t send big items, we try to figure out fun presents that can fit in an envelope.
It’s a simple thing but it can help your kids set a standard for the first Christmas card, the first Christmas gift being for someone else!
And if you don’t sponsor a child yet? It might be the best gift you and your family give this year!
Are you in charge of decorating a Christmas tree at your church or school? Maybe your office? Instead of stocking up on Target’s latest designs, why not do something that really helps others?
Ornaments for Orphans contracts artists in Uganda to design and create beautiful handmade ornaments. You can order (free of charge!) a box of 100 ornaments to decorate your Christmas tree then, people who pass by can stop and buy an ornament for $10 each. This money goes back to O4O who then pass it on to the artists so they can provide and care for their children. How great is this?
You decorate a tree. Your friends, neighbors, co-workers and passers-by undecorate it for you and kids around the world are protected! Don’t you love it? (And if there happens to be any leftover ornaments–O4O will pay the shipping!)
We did this at my husband’s CrossFit gym a few years ago and my kids absolutely loved decorating the tree and checking up on it to see how many ornaments had disappeared off the tree.
This picture is of the woman who is the head of the widow’s co-op that makes all the stuffed animal ornaments for O4O. The women in this co-op are the sole providers for their families and this work enables them to care for their children. Ornaments for Orphans is actually in the job of orphan prevention because the majority of Ugandan children living in orphanages actually have a living parent or relative. But women have to leave their children at orphanages because they are too poor to feed them. O4O’s work can keep vulnerable families united by providing an opportunity for dignified income. I love it!!
I hope you use one of these great ideas to begin your holiday. I think it’s kind of a “firstfruits” thing like with tithing. When you give to God first, it sorta evens out everything else. If nothing else, put it to the test and see what happens when you give first this Christmas!