How to Give a Gift that Matters

A Few Holiday Giving Tips to Help You Figure it Out. 

Giving gifts at Christmastime is a beautiful tradition. There is truly something special about expressing our love for one another with a special holiday gift. However, I think many people would agree with me when I say, gift-giving has gotten out of control. In fact, based on many comments that I have received I know many of you feel this way.

One person put it this way: I am spending money that I do not have, buying stuff for people that they do not need and often do not want. But I've got to do it. Many people feel the same way, but no matter how tight money gets, they just can't get away from the obligation.

With that idea in play, it is easy to get the feeling that your love for people is going to be measured by how much money you spend on them.

Here are some more comments:

Angela wrote: We recently lost our car n got an ugly 1 to replace it and drinks gas like water. I'm still living with family, and I have a kid and a bf and both of our families have money problems. So, while I try to buy presents I gotta save for a car, support gas, and support necessities in the fams. I got 2 jobs but they're both min wage

Tara wrote:What is the most difficult part of Christmas for me? Not having enough money to get my kids gifts. Had to borrow money this year.

Alma wrote: Feeling pressured to buy all ur family members' presents when u don't get money cos u don't get a freaking job!
Becky wrote: The most difficult part of Christmas for me is giving. not the act of giving. but trying to give ppl what they really want. I'm 13. really hard to get my mom what she wants when i have a budget of $50 total for presents.

The lack of money for presents has become the most common stress point during Christmas, robbing the season of the joy and peace it should bring.

I can really sympathize with parents who want to give to their kids. Kids don't yet understand about it being the "thought that counts," but they may not be as materialistic as we think either, especially little kids. How many parents have spent a small fortune on presents for their kids to open on Christmas morning, only to watch them spent the rest of the day playing with the boxes?

How many times have you gotten halfway through the presents on Christmas morning and realized if we stopped at that point, it would have been more than enough?

How did things get so crazy? A lot of it has to do with living in the most prosperous nation on earth. Yeah, I know, if you aren't experiencing that prosperity, living in the midst of it makes things worse. Sometimes I think it would be easier if everyone else just wasn't so prosperous. If you've been around grandparents during the holidays, you may have heard them talk about a small little gift they got for Christmas, a toy truck or a sled. And if you have been around your great grandparents, you might hear stories about getting an apple or a piece of candy for Christmas. It was their only present, they tell you, and they were so thrilled to get it. That was definitely the olden days.

A big part of the craziness is also the result of non-stop advertising. It's like they grab our kids' brains and make them think they are destitute without the latest toy or gadget. Beyond that, it seems that we have simply passed down the tradition from one generation to the next, each one trying to out-do the last. So, no matter how much great granddad talks about getting that single apple for Christmas, it doesn't change things. It's hard to put the materialistic toothpaste back in the tube.

So, knowing that we can't change our whole culture overnight, here are a few giving tips to consider today:

GIVING TIP for those short on cash: Try this approach: 1) Find out what a person really wants; 2) go for the better gift, something that is a long-term keeper; and 3) get brothers, sisters, aunts, uncle, parent, etc. to go in together. A better gift from 2-3 people usually trumps several little gifts.

GIVING TIP for when you don't know what to give: Ask for a Christmas Wish List from those you are buying for. Do you ever find yourself feeling the way Ciera or Heather feel?

Ciera wrote: What is the most difficult part for me? Figuring out what to get people.

Heather wrote: The most difficult part for me is having family members who will actually open up their gifts and say it's not what they wanted. It's hard when every year there is someone who is so blatantly ungrateful and unsatisfied. Kinda takes the Christmas spirit right out of me.

I think it is totally reasonable to ask everyone to whom you plan to give a gift for a wish list with price ranges from low to high. You might take the go-in-together approach on a more expensive gift, or you can go for one of the smaller gifts. Either way, by asking for the list, you avoid burdening yourself with the pressure of guessing what everyone wants.

GIVING TIP for when the joy of giving is gone: Consider making the suggestion to your family that rather than buying extra gifts for each other that you each give up one gift and use the money saved to buy something for someone in need.

Katherine wrote: The most difficult part is knowing that some people don't get to experience the joy that it brings because they think that if they don't have money they can't enjoy the season itself. 

Katherine can't stand the thought that there will be no joy for some kids because they won't have many presents. You can do something about this. There are SO many organizations in each town that do Toy Drives or Adopt a Family for Christmas programs.  A simple search should turn up multiple options for you to give to in your community. You might be amazed at the joy that helping someone else brings to both young and old alike. And maybe if you can't give a gift that costs money, you could serve others with your time.

Dawson McAllister
Dawson McAllister, also known as America's youth pastor, was an author, radio host, speaker, and founder of TheHopeLine. McAllister attended Bethel College in Minnesota for undergraduate work where he graduated in 1968, began graduate studies at Talbot School of Theology in California, and received an honorary doctorate from Biola University.
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One comment on “How to Give a Gift that Matters”

  1. This is a good article, sure the gift for the all. God gives us to give to others. more give get the blessing.

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