I have the unique situation that I share my birthday with Christmas Day. So of course I've always expected gifts (and my parents were very good to make sure I receive them for both occasions).
But over the past few years I've felt really challenged in this area. Even though receiving gifts isn't one of my love languages, I still feel the natural pull to give seriously awesome gifts to everyone at Christmas time.
Which makes striving for simplicity and contentment during this season a challenge.
I'm thankful God is making a huge change in my heart for the desire to consume, consume, consume "just because" it's the holidays.
But how can I fulfill this desire to give and bring joy to others through presents... If I want them to be filled with contentment and appreciation for God's love too?
And how can I personally celebrate the holiday simply if everyone is expecting a fancy gift? And how can I express my contentment so that people don't feel the need to give me more?
This has been the conversation in my head for months leading up to the holidays.
And a big part of that conversation was me asking myself, "Why do we give presents at all? Well, Jesus was God's present to us. And the three kings brought him presents. So should I give everyone gold and essential oils? Do I buy them a Bible? Do I buy them nothing?"
Most would agree that America has succeeded in building up this traditional, historical holiday and making it less about Christ's birth and more about having the biggest decorations, the biggest gifts, and the biggest party to celebrate it all.
Let me preface by saying I love the Christmas season. I love the decor, the parties, the celebrations, the music. (Umm, I decorated my house before Thanksgiving)
What I don't love is the sense of entitlement, greed, and discontentment that I have seen in my own heart.
That's not the mindset I hope to pass on to my children. I want them to cherish this holiday as the celebration of Christ's birth, family, and giving out of love, not to receive.
Contentment. No big presents? Perhaps no presents at all?
Simplicity. No big decorations? No big parties?
This does not sound fun at all.
How can I continue to change my heart to celebrate Christmas to honor the birth of our Savior without being completely radical and making our friends and family think we are crazy ungrateful cheapos...?
I have to give gifts.
Well, I want to give gifts.
I want to share what we've been blessed with with our family and friends.. but, I don't want to give to impress. I want to give to challenge people.
Challenge them to think about what they are truly celebrating - God's holiday? Or the world's holiday?
I want to challenge them about what they're expectations are and what ways they are searching for fulfillment, because in the end, they aren't going to get true fulfillment in any Christmas gift.
So now I've found the message I want from my gifts and my reasons for giving them. I'm not giving gifts just because "it's what you do" and because "I want gifts back". I hope my gifts will be received with a special message.
And to try and create that message,
We decided to make all of our gifts this year.
Not just a one or two. Not a handful. Every. Single. One.
And you know what I love the most about making homemade gifts?
1. No Money
Money is tighter right now, I'm being honest. We just bought our first house and are still adjusting to the unexpected/additional expenses that come with maintaining a home. (Almost) every material we are using to make our gifts we already own (or have been able to find for free from family members and Craig's List).
We are spending less than $100 total (but I think closer to $50... and a lot of that is on stamps!) for over a dozen gifts (and 50 mini-gifts).
We know making our own gifts won't make them less adequate for the person receiving them, but they will allow us to keep a larger "cushion" in our bank account if, say, we end up needing (another) unexpected $850 repair...
2. No TV Time
When we moved into our new house, we chose to not have cable anymore. This literally gives us hours every day that we used to waste watching random sitcoms and HGTV reruns. Having projects to work on has given us something to do in our "down time" (and it forces me to spend time doing something I enjoy... which is easy for us moms to skip!)
3. Teachable Moments
Spending time cutting, pinning, painting, designing, and sewing gives me plenty of opportunities to talk to my toddler about gift giving - and have her help! Even if it's just scribbling on envelopes or stuffing fabric scraps into a bag.
Is making homemade gifts 100x times more work than buying them? Absolutely.
Are there meaningful store-bought gifts out there? Absolutely.
But instead of dreading to fight the crowds and have my recipients
potentially use their gift receipt, I'm preserving materials, saving money, and making something unique.
It's simple. And it makes me feel content. And thankful for the opportunity to bless others.
Do you have any unique traditions for gift giving?
Thank you following along on our journey to simplicity & contentment. Please be sure to learn about our family, like our page on Facebook, and visit the right column to subscribe to future posts!