Written by Sarah Nelson - Compassion UK
Christmas is less than two weeks away and I am so far from ready. In our house Christmas planning starts early. My husband is a pastor and his team’s first Christmas planning meeting takes place in August. Yes, August. Which means that by mid-October I’m already playing catch-up feeling utterly unprepared for the weeks ahead! But what if it could be different? What if our bank balance could stay level, our gifts would remain treasured, and Christmas could be celebrated from the comfort of our own home? Now we’ve got your attention, here’s 3 ways we’ll be doing Christmas presents differently this year.
1. Swap the chocolate for a reverse Advent calendar
Whether it’s luxury chocolate, alcohol, beauty products or toys, I’m often surprised by the extravagance of daily expensive treats included in friends’ ‘must-have’ Advent calendars. Instead, this year I’m doing a reverse Advent calendar. The idea is to fill a bag with 24 practical gifts (think tinned food, sanitary products or nappies) and then come Christmas to give the hoard to a local foodbank, women’s refuge or children’s charity. Easy! I based mine on my local foodbank’s wish list of items. We’re only a few days in but already it’s been an amazing thing to do. My daughters are loving choosing items and I’m encouraging them to pray for the people they’ll be going to. I actually don’t think they’ve missed the chocolate yet!
2. Cut back on unnecessary gifts
Last month's research by Christian child development charity, Compassion UK, reveals that two in five (38%) of us find Christmas shopping stressful or worrying. With women doing a bigger share of the shopping than men, it’s not surprising that so many of us dread the crowds and queues that often seem inevitable.MoneySavingExpert’s Martin Lewis is running a campaign encouraging us to ditch pointless Christmas shopping altogether. Rather than feeling under pressure to swap gifts of equal value, why not agree with friends or family to ban unnecessary Christmas presents? I’ve agreed with my two sisters - one is expecting a baby in the next month and the other isn’t working - that this year, we’re taking a break from present buying. Yes, we’re encouraging our little ones to make something (draw a picture, bake some cookies) for their cousins, but that’s about where our Christmas gift-giving ends. It’s incredibly freeing!
3. Give where it truly makes a difference
In amongst the consumerism and pressures from advertisers that we need to be giving more and more, it can be difficult to remember that there are some gifts that actually do make a difference. Compassion UK has launched its ‘Make My Christmas’ Appeal to help give gifts to almost two million children this Christmas. The team at Compassion handpick a gift for every child living in poverty around the world who are in its programme. Whether it’s a pair of shoes that is desperately needed, or a child’s first toy, Compassion’s staff purchase each gift locally - so you know it’ll be just right! For a donation of just £10, a child who is waiting for a sponsor can be given their own gift to unwrap, and you could have the chance to make this Christmas their best one yet.