“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (ESV)

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. The stores are decorated and toy marketing is in full swing!
 
With all the emphasis on stuff, it can be hard for our children (and us!) not to develop a give-me or an I-want-it-all attitude at Christmas. Stuff is everywhere, and I find myself thinking of so many nice things I would love to have. It can be so easy to lose our focus.

Here are some ideas our family has used to keep the focus on Christ and giving.

Give out free treats.

When our children were little, we transformed the family van into a FREE ice cream truck. (Where we live, it’s hot for most of the year. Hot cocoa may be more applicable to your area.) We decorated posters with things like “We ❤ our neighbors” and “Happy Birthday, Jesus” and taped them to our van. Then, various types of ice cream were stored in coolers. We cut the ice cream pictures from their boxes and displayed the selections on the van door. Our older kids went up and rang doorbells and invited our neighbors to come to our van and pick out free ice cream!
 
We’ll always remember the house that had a teen party going on. Those teens came out in a hurry! With the ice cream, we also passed out a Christmas gospel tract to tell others about the gift of Jesus that we celebrate at Christmas. Serving as a family unites you at an often-chaotic time, and the ice cream truck is a unique opportunity for the whole family. Even the littlest ones can take part by riding along in their car seats.

Do Operation Christmas Child

For several years, we’ve packed shoeboxes for Samaritan’s Purse. Their website has all the information you need to do this too! Groups and families can pack a quality gift, along with smaller items like hygiene products in a shoebox-sized box. You pay Samaritan’s Purse for the shipping of your box (a $10 set fee) to the country they determine. When you pay online, you can even find out what country your box was sent to. There are amazing videos online of people whose lives were changed by receiving a shoe box. For some kids, these boxes are the first gift they’ve ever received.
 
I love that my kids learn through this how other children live around the world. It also helps if you offer to help your children finance the gifts from their allowance or special jobs around the house. Bonus: If you follow Samaritan’s Purse you’ll be amazed and inspired, as you see the journey of different shoeboxes. Truly amazing!

 

Have a bake sale

This year we’re also planning a bake sale! My kids have often sold baked goods, largely made by mom, to finance their latest toy wish or go to camp. Sometimes they set up a table at the end of the street to sell lemonade and cookies. This year we’ll be selling to raise money for orphans in Uganda. If inflation has touched you this year, imagine the effects on the precious men and women who are caring for orphans around the world. We personally love to support Light For Oprhans Ministry. You can learn how to give on their website. Sharon, who runs the organization, even sent back a video from the orphans she and her husband care for thanking my children for their gift!

Those are just a few ideas that have helped our family to remember the meaning of Christmas.

Christmas is when God gave us His greatest gift – His Son Jesus. He is the one who made a way for us to receive eternal forgiveness for our sins and a promised home in heaven.

I think it’s important that we remind ourselves and nudge our children’s hearts towards gratitude, helping them develop an awareness of those who are less fortunate.

My pastor told us, “We are never more like Jesus than when we give.” Providing our children the opportunity to give is one of the greatest gifts we can give to them. So why not start a family tradition of service and giving this year? I bet you’ll be glad you did!