Last Updated on March 23, 2018

One of the feelings I hate is what I’ll call the after-Christmas glut. It’s a little like that feeling you can get after a Thanksgiving feast: I reeeeaaally ate too much. I just feel like sitting down and sleeping with all this in my stomach … BLAAAAH.

The after-Christmas glut usually hits when I’m carting gifts up the stairs, realizing with some guilt that we now have duplicates of some things which we already didn’t need and we’ll now have to figure out how to get rid of, that we already had plenty, that we now have too much, and that there are kids around the world who are wishing they had something to eat this morning. Or it can also happen when my kids (or myself) are ungrateful, or simply naive to how blessed they are as they plow through gifts … BLAAAAH.

But one of the gifts that didn’t manage this hangover was actually a homemade certificate someone gave me last Christmas morning: a giving allowance. I had x amount, they explained, to give to whatever I wanted! I discovered that has a giving catalog, similar to that of the world-renowned Heifer Project (but with Christian ties that presumably give Jesus along with your gift). You can “buy” everything from a goat for a family in need (up to 16 cups of milk daily!), donations toward clean water, help for an impoverished school with music and sports, or hope for sexually exploited girls. It was actually a lot of fun, and just what I needed that year to have a less self-centered holiday.

So here’s the idea: Before Christmas, what if you sent your children on an imaginary shopping spree? Give them an imaginary amount of money, and ask them to browse the catalog and decide how they’d allocate all of it. Would they give all of it to buy one huge gift, like a well? Or would they split it up into areas that excite them?

Next, pray for your kids to have a larger view of God’s heart for the world, and the power of giving. Talk about it as you have opportunities throughout the season. Check out passages together like Isaiah 58:6-12, that talk about God’s passion, and His promises for those who look out for the powerless (2 Corinthians 9:6-15 is a good follow-up). Make this Christmas a little more others-centered than the past.

Then take it a step further. Christmas morning, what if they actually received a small amount that they were in charge of giving to their hearts’ content—whether it’s part of your own charity budget, or a small part of the money you’ve set aside for their Christmas gifts. Maybe the cash will end up going to a family in your own neighborhood. Maybe some kids will choose to add to it from what they’ve saved from their allowance. Either way, they’re learning a key principle of finances, and hopefully of the heart.

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