Creating a Giving Tree in Your Home This Holiday Season
Christmas is a big deal for most people. Adults are decorating, planning, and shopping, and kids are attending parties, keeping up with Santa and the Elf on the Shelf, and planning out their Christmas list of desired presents. The Christmas season has essentially turned into a time of commercialism.
Moms all around me are constantly talking about gifts for their children and worrying about how much money they should be spending on them. Households all over the US are frantic about having perfectly decorated houses, participating in all of the latest Christmas parenting trends, and leading their kids up with treats and gifts. Even our families on both sides continue pumping my toddler up for all of the gifts he's going to get for Christmas.
What happened to the true meaning of Christmas? What happened to Christmas being a time to help others and consider other's needs?
In our household, we work hard to perpetuate the idea that we were put on this Earth not to please ourselves, but to be an example of Christ to others. All year long we look for opportunities to be a blessing to others, whether it's providing food to those on the side of the road, sending cards, making meals, or visiting those in the hospital. We've even put money in mailboxes anonymously for families we know are hurting for rent and food money, even if we're hurting ourselves.
So in the name of blessing others, we don't buy gifts at all for those occasions when they are expected. Though we do buy fun things all year long just because, and then we shop at thrift stores, garage sales, and Facebook sites. We rarely buy new stuff for ourselves.
Instead, for Christmas, we set up a Giving Tree. We fill it full of wonderful ideas for blessing others that we come up with as a family. Then every day during December we pull one or more ideas off of the tree and do it. It may be as simple as giving a gift, making a meal, or hugging someone that is hurting, but we make that (and the real story of Christmas) our focus. Then gifts that are given are thoughtful, but not expected.
Let me show you our tree!
Every day of the month of December, we purpose to do something that honors others in our lives, and for each "good deed" we put a beautiful snowflake on the door. We discuss how beautiful our blessings are in the lives of other people and how we can bring happiness to their lives with the things we do.
- White paper
- Great ideas for giving
- We started our tree in November with a Tree of Thanks where we filled it with all the things we're thankful for.
- I hot glued ribbon to the front door as a tree, so my 1 year old wouldn't pull it off.
- Then we cut out shapes for the door. (Hands for Thanksgiving and snowflakes for Christmas.)
- There are two ways to do this. You can write on them and then tape them to the door to be removed as you accomplish the blessing written.
- You can make a list of blessings and attach the snowflakes to the door as you do something nice for someone else.
I'm hoping that by taking the focus off of receiving gifts and instead focusing on what we can do to bless others, my children will grow up thinking differently. My goal is to develop a generous spirit in each of them that wants to create a better world through helping others. This practice also helps my kids to appreciate what they have and become kids that joyously share.
Another side bonus is that they aren't screaming about toys, we don't have to worry about spending a ton of money on useless stuff to fill up our home, and they value time, people and experiences more than they do stuff. We make most of our Christmas decorations ourselves every year, and we are going to cut our own Christmas tree for $10 in the national forest this weekend. On Christmas morning we make homemade cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate, play in the snow, and curl up together in front of a Christmas movie or make crafts together.
I would rather Christmas be about Christ, being a blessing to others, and family than presents and getting material things. Therefore, we are starting simple, like with this tree and practicing giving. Maybe it's time to consider some alternative Christmas traditions in your home as well.
© 2018 Victoria Van Ness