Friday, November 23, 2012

Relational Gift Ideas

A couple Sundays ago I spoke on the middle two of the Advent Conspiracy's four tenets: Spend Less, Give More. (Missed it? CLICK HERE.) 

I talked about the AC's concept of Relational Giving. Relational giving brings the giver and recipient closer together. These gifts may cost less in terms of money, but they often cost more in terms of time, energy, effort, and thought (hence the concept "spend less, give more").

In that message I shared some of your ideas for relational giving. I recently stumbled upon some more ideas from folks around the country. I'll post some of these over the next several days. Let them spark your own creativity...

Coupon Book
We have four kids and are trying to "rethink" Christmas this year for Advent Conspiracy.  We usually will do 4 or 5 gifts per kid.  This year, they each get one gift on Christmas and then I thought it would be fun to give a coupon book...personalized for each child.  Each one will have a coupon to redeem each month.  It may be "breakfast in bed" or "go out for a milkshake w/mom" or "hit a bucket of golf balls w/dad."  You can go real simple or get more detailed.  The key is that they get to redeem only one/month.  This spreads out your cost over time.

The Real St. Nick
Our first Re-thunk Christmas, I was terribly afraid that my children wouldn't get to experience the MAGIC of Christmas. The Christmas mornings that my parents helped me to experience when our living room was completely transformed, waking Mom and Dad with "come see what Santa left!!!" and how did Santa know how much we wanted those bicycles? But the magic was there... more magically than ever... this idea put the magic BACK in Christmas for me as an adult.

At the beginning of the Advent season, I wrapped a BIG open box and put it in the living room. My children (then 2 & 5, now 6 & 9) were to carefully to think about what toys they didn't need anymore. They cleaned them up, and put them in the box to give to Santa. "Santa has a lot of children to give gifts to, let's see if we can help by sharing the gifts we don't need." They really got into it. If they were hesitant to give an item, I reminded them that if it was too hard to give it away, they could take it out again. They put so much thought into what they still needed, and what they thought would be better enjoyed by someone else... and into what might be considered "junk" that no one would want. On Christmas Eve, we sealed the box and put a note on it, "For the children who have nothing." 

That night, Santa came to my children. All of the "just what I wanted!" things. The living room transformed. And when the children woke me up Christmas morning, running into the room with enthusiastic giggles, I didn't hear "come see what Santa left!!"  I heard, "Come See! Come See! He took it! Santa took our gifts to the children!! The box is gone!" They hadn't noticed their stockings full or the specially wrapped gifts. They were thrilled with the magic of the Real St. Nicholas, who's legend we tell every year:  A priest who sneaked to give gifts to those who were without gifts. THAT's Santa Magic.  

Conversation Jar
Write down some probing questions and put them all on strips of paper in a jar.  Go around the room and have each person draw a question.  Spend some time going down memory lane, hearing dreams for the future and celebrating each other’s lives. 

More tomorrow...

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