I'm not anti-gift giving. I'm not even against the usual store bought gifts, as long as they're not things nobody needs or things that cost so much they put you into debt. And as long as you still have some money to "Love All" by giving to neighbors in need.
But I love the Advent Conspiracy's concept of relational giving. Not just because it frees up funds that you can give to worthy causes, but because it brings people closer together.
When Covenant first joined the Advent Conspiracy in 2009, I searched the web and collected ideas for relational giving. The other day I stumbled upon some of these in my notes--way too many to share in a sermon. So I've been posting them here. Check these out, and see if they lead to ideas of your own...
"The most wonderful gift I have ever given (it’s still talked about years later) cost me almost nothing. I spent a few months contacting friends and family members and asked them to send me memories and old pictures of my grandfather. Then I wrote one memory (or printed one picture) on each of 365 business card sized pieces of card stock. I folded each in half and secured it with a bit of tape, then placed them all in a big jar I decorated. Every morning for the next year, my grandfather would take out a paper, open it, and see what other people cherished in him. He loved it.”
“We are now writing a chapter of our family history each year. We’ll pick a topic, and each family member will write about it. One person plays ‘editor’, collecting the stories, and presents them all together for Christmas. We’ve written about our favorite Christmas (seven differing perspectives on the same year), the house we grew up in, and this year we’re writing about how we met our spouse. Last year, my Mom sent out her first draft of her entire life history. This gift costs nothing, unless you choose to make fancy copies or books. It does take a little time if you want to contribute quality. It will, however, carry a lasting value unmatched by any tangible gifts we’ve exchanged, or even experiential gifts!”
I (Claude) really like this next idea. The writer shared the idea before actually doing it. I wish I knew how it went. It sounds like a blast...
Typically our Christmas morning is a round-robin of opening gifts, then we eat a light lunch and then folks start to drift off home. This is certainly less than celebratory and not memorable in the least. Every year's Christmas pics look the same as the last. Because our finances are limited anyway we've been cutting back for years as it is but this year we are considering a new option.
( I can't believe someone hasn't thought of this before. Stop me if you've heard this one.)
We set two rules:
1. Each person is expected to bring one gift. That one gift must be something the entire group can use/eat/play/experience together.
2. All gifts must be experienced before the end of Christmas Day.
This eliminates the lengthy "opening of gifts" and it immediately changes Christmas morning from a passive event to an active experience.
So maybe one person buys a game (say Catchphrase) and that gift is opened and the family spends an hour or so playing the game. It must be played, everyone must participate. Maybe someone brings home-made cinnamon rolls as their Christmas gift for everyone. so at some point everyone sits down and eats a roll and coffee together- unrushed. I do a little hand-drumming and was thinking how fun it would be to make my gift a drumming lesson for the whole family. I think my wife is planning on making everyone finger paint.
The gifts might mean spending some money but not necessarily.
Suddenly Christmas day moves from the mundane to an amazing world of creativity and fun!. At least in my imagination.
We'll see how it goes.
OK, folks, that's all the relational gift ideas I've got for now. But maybe you have some. LEAVE A COMMENT and share it with others!