How much money do you spend on Christmas each year?
Do you set a budget and stick to it?
Do people appreciate the gifts you give to them?
In the past, we have spent several thousand dollars each year on Christmas gifts. That doesn't include the time and effort in planning the gifts for each person, driving across town to locate them, and then purchasing the gift in advance of the big day. When Christmas morning arrived, we had a few minutes of organized chaos as people unwrapped their gifts. The next day, the return of the gifts commenced. Recently, it dawned on me that none of this gift-giving and gift-returning behavior had anything to do with Jesus. So, when I heard about Advent Conspiracy, I was immediately hooked, and this movement has radically changed the way we do Christmas at our house.
It was one thing for me to “waste money” on gifts, but when I saw my mother spending thousands of her hard-earned money on gifts for people who showed up once a year to receive said gifts, and then leave, I had to put my foot down and say no more. It was a challenge for her to move beyond the idea of gifts being a central part of the holiday. After all, her primary love language is “gift giving.” There are five love languages, according to Gary Chapman. They are; (1) words of affirmation, (2) acts of service, (3) gift giving, (4) quality time, and (5) physical touch. Chapman explains that the love language of “gift giving” is when you demonstrate love with a tangible item. He also describes how not all people have the same love language, and for those that prefer a different language of love, the gift is fruitless. This can cause the gift giver to feel hurt, taken advantage of, or even abused in the process.
Advent Conspiracy gives you permission to spend less money on gifts, freeing up resources for things that really matter. This gives you better control of your finances to give more intentionally. Instead of giving Uncle Bob a sweater he will never wear, you could use the money towards clean drinking water on a Native American reservation (did you know that 49% of tribal homes do not have access to reliable water sources). Being more intentional with our money at Christmas, allows us to radically love others as Jesus did and worship Him wholeheartedly.
Several years ago, our church promoted Advent Conspiracy. They educated us on the aspect of “giving” for the purpose of Christmas. Advent Conspiracy lists relational gift ideas like spending time together by hosting a dinner party, purchasing with a purpose by shopping local small businesses, serving someone through an organization such as World Vision or Compassion International, or celebrating memories with an organized cooking class for the family.
I encourage you to think about your shopping list this year. With the impending financial crisis of 2023, it would be wise if we spent less on Christmas this year. Financially, it makes sense to spend less. More importantly, spending less on Christmas can bring us closer to the real meaning of Christmas. A phrase I use with my children is that Christmas is no longer about “presents." Instead, it is more about their “presence.” I want to spend time with them and make memories. I want us to go to church as a family. I want us to have conversations about what God has done for us this year.
How will you spend your money this year for Christmas?
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