Christmas is coming. I hope to be prepared. I hope to enjoy family time together. I hope none of the festivities make me grumble. I really hope it is simple. It shouldn’t cost so much. We shouldn’t have it be all about what we get but more about what we give. We can have more family fun time together if we shop less. It can be more about Christ’s birth and less about the guy in a red suit. So here are a list of eleven ways that could nudge us towards a simpler Christmas.
- Our boys love the gift exchange we do among ourselves. We don’t draw names we each buy a gift for each other. We pick one night close to Christmas, collect our lists, withdraw money from savings accounts and we go to Target. We all shop at the same time and try to check out without anyone seeing our things. It’s great fun! Then we go out to dinner, and head home to wrap. I can report the best part of Christmas morning is sharing these gifts with one another.
- Our church supports a run down neighborhood in the city where elderly people live. We have “adopted” one man who is alone, and we plan to bring him Thanksgiving meal for the first meeting, and then come up with idea of how to bless his life both at Christmas and through the year. We will read the Christmas story from the bible with him, even if it means bringing the Spanish bible.
- We used to meet with friends in AZ and the kids would make cookies then we would go caroling at a nursing home with the kids all dressed up in their Christmas clothes. It was special for everyone. (pre-arrange with the nursing home)
- One friend of mine has a gaudy gift exchange with family members. Everyone brings something really awful from their own home and gives it as a gift, then the gifts have to be prominently displayed in their home all year long! (funny, I love it!)
- White elephant. We have talked about each of our kids picking something of their own things and having a white elephant exchange. Since we will visit friends during the holidays we will try to do this with the whole group. The point is to choose something we already have, and the more desirable the more someone will want it and steal it. Good fun.
- Giving coupons for service. I love to receive free babysitting coupons, the boys like a back rub, garden work, dog bathing, garage cleaning, car cleaning, house cleaning, movie organizing, etc.
- The World vision catalog suggests gifts that bless other families in the world, like goats, donkeys, cows, rabbits, chickens, etc. We are going to give these this year. I’ll ask the boys to decide who gets what animals and then we will proceed.
- I like to make cookie ingredients in a mason jar, and make it look like sand art. We can give these to everyone who helps the family in some small way.
- Our nonprofit, Kirabo Seeds, has hundreds of strands of Ugandan beads to sell if anyone wants to help feed hungry children in Uganda. Contact me and I will ship.
- There are so many foster kids who are aging out of the system and yet have no family to call their own. What if we chose one and invited them to participate in some of our family activities? My heart is really tugged in that direction.
- Our pastor in Katy gives each child in the family 50 dollars on Thanksgiving day. They are asked to come up with a service project to use the money and do it secretly, then report on Christmas Eve how they used the money. I love this.
- This same pastor once asked our church to skip the Christmas pageant and instead host a caroling party and go strolling through our neighborhood singing Christmas carols. My boys did it that year and Donny played the guitar, and all of my neighbors told us how much they loved it.
As far as the cooking and decorating go for this year, I hope I can follow my good intentions and just do less so I can have more fun. I hope these ideas spark your imagination and if you have some to add to our list please share!