What would it look like for us to pause and take a step back this Advent season? To take a moment to consider how our Christmas giving can be simple, meaningful and thoughtful – a source of joy that reflects the true spirit of the season?
Christmas is for many people one of the most important times of the year. And the wonder and hope of being gifted Jesus, our Wonderful Counsellor, mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace, is definitely worth celebrating. But in the midst of all the preparations for the day, finding a gift for everyone on our list often becomes a frenzied affair, and our experience of the season is one of tiredness, busyness and feeling overwhelmed.
As Christmas approaches, perhaps it is worth contemplating what Christmas giving traditions we are following simply for tradition’s sake. What are we doing only because we feel we should or because “that’s the way it’s done”? Perhaps this Christmas we can do things a little differently. After reflecting on the love and generosity shown to us through the gift of Jesus, we can respond in a way which is loving and generous toward our community.
One of the (many) wonderful things about Jesus is that in Him there is rest. In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus says: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
In our gift giving this Christmas let’s consider how we can minimise the noise, the clutter and the “busy”, and make Christmas a reflection of the rest, joy and hope that Jesus brings. Let’s give and celebrate in a way that is simple and thoughtful.
Here are some great ideas:
1. Give gifts of hope
Your purchase can bring hope to local or global communities. On the home front, to support rural communities across Australia with your gifts, check out Buy From The Bush.
You could also give gifts which provide hope and healing to communities across the world through Tearfund! Our Useful Gifts range includes chickens, goats, vegetable gardens and toilets and lots more. Perhaps you could choose a Useful Gift that reflects something your recipient is passionate about: an education gift for a teacher, a gift of good health for a nurse or doctor or a good food gift for the foodie in your life! Or you could give our new gift of Disaster Preparedness, which helps communities to be better prepared when disasters strike, through things like training in first aid. And our a gift of A Healing Journey supports our partner Strong Women Talking, a movement of First Nations women who are passionate about breaking the cycle of violence caused by domestic and family violence and sexual abuse.
2. ‘Love language’ giving
Before endeavouring to find gifts for your loved ones, perhaps you can reflect on whether that’s the best way to show you love them. Giving and receiving gifts is a language of love for some, but for others their love language may be quality time, receiving words of affirmation, acts of service or physical touch. Perhaps thoughtful words of affirmation or helping with household tasks would be more meaningful for them. You could even give someone an act of service like cooking through a social enterprise like Dinner on the Table, which delivers delicious meals all over New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT.
3. Embrace simplicity
When it comes to gifts for our loved ones, perhaps we can take a leaf from Marie Kondo’s book by seeking simple items which have meaning and spark joy, rather than seeking excess. Purchasing online before the Christmas rush begins may be a useful way to save some time and hassle, and reduce stress.
4. Sustainable options
Sustainable gifts are a win-win: for the recipient, and for people throughout the supply chain. Whole foods, health food and fair trade shops stock thoughtful, ethically produced beauty products. You could even get creative with DIY gift ideas like homemade granola or potted plants. Bulk food stores like The Source or Naked Foods have a range of ready-to-go gifts. You could also scour op shops for second-hand treasures, or give people experiences rather than things. How about giving a loved one a workshop at an urban farm, a cooking experience through a social enterprise like Free to Feed, or a dance class for a bit of fun?
5. Support local makers
Alternatively, you could take a friend and head to a market near you. Some ideas to get you started: Finders Keepers, which runs markets in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, Sydney’s Blak Markets, Perth Makers Market or Adelaide’s Gilles at the Grounds. You could also visit your nearest farmers’ markets for some local honey or other treats to give and share. Check out your local council’s website for upcoming markets in your area.