By Joey and Carla Link
December 7, 2022
Why do we give gifts at Christmas? Those who believe in and love God do so because it is a way of honoring the gift He gave us in His Son Jesus, through whom we have the promise of eternal life. We do wonder why celebrating Christmas is such a big deal to those who have chosen not to love God, but we are glad it is.
During the Christmas season, we spend a lot of time thinking about what to get as gifts to show our love and appreciation to one another. We try to find things we think will please each of our loved ones. When teaching your children about giving gifts however, it is important they realize giving gifts isn’t always about things. It is often about intangible things too. “Intangible” is a big word for kids. It means “things that you can’t hold or touch, that don’t have a physical presence.”
Early in December, we had our kids choose toys or other items they were willing to give away. They had to choose a toy for each year of their age. Even preschoolers can do this. I (Carla) had each child help me clean the toys they picked and we gave them to a community organization that collected used toys in good condition for gifts for needy children.
Our family loved doing Samaritan’s Purse. As a family we would go out for pizza, go shopping to fill our boxes, take the goodies home, and put the boxes together to take to church. The Angel Tree project collected gifts for kids of prisoners. I loved the idea of sharing with these kids the love of Jesus and that it surpasses anything we do that is wrong, and that people care about them despite what their parent did to be incarcerated. Wash your kids’ coats, boots, gloves, scarves and hats that no longer fit and have your children put them in a barrel where they are collected. We went to a local nursing home where our kids sang for the residents and prepared a skit to share. By doing these kinds of things, you are teaching your children that God gave the gift of His Son to everyone, and to follow His example, so should we.
At what age will you teach and train your children to begin thinking, planning, saving, and shopping for the gifts they give? Christmas gift-giving is a great time to teach your children:
- A gift costs the giver something
- A gift does not have to be something you buy; it can be a talent shared or service provided
- There are many creative ways to earn money to pay for gifts
- Giving gifts takes time and preparation
Preschool age children can wrap their presents. Get paper bags and have them color them. I remember Carla let our girls dust the baseboards and windowsills when they were this age to earn money for the gifts they wanted to give.
When kids are in elementary school, they can make lists of who they each want to give gifts to and what they want to give. Take them shopping to get an idea of the cost and put a budget together with each child. Have them come up with ways they can earn the money to buy them or they will need to cut back on the gifts they give.
Working on lists together gives you the opportunity to talk again about why you give gifts and share reasons the people your child is giving them to is worthy of receiving them. When your kids are old enough to earn money outside the home (babysitting, mowing lawns), have them add to their stewardship goals a savings account for gift giving. We taught our kids that a percentage of the money they earned went to tithe, savings, to spend as they pleased and for gifts.
Your children can develop giving hearts. Remember it’s not just about giving a gift, it’s also about the thought that goes into a gift and the purpose for it. As you teach them to give as Jesus did, what a better time to ask them if they are living like Jesus wants them to and if He lives in their heart.
The words of John 3:16 demonstrate for us what love is that Jesus gave Himself up for us so we can not only live life fully, but have the promise of eternal life. We should always, when celebrating the birthday of Jesus remember why He came to earth in the first place.
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed;
by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.”
John 3:16 The Message Bible