December 5, 2011

What's Under Your Tree?

WANTED: a Christmas gift for people in my church. Must be thoughtful, tasteful, and available in multiples. Bargain price a plus. Very personal or ostentatious items need not apply.

The question of what to give has some of the same difficulties as the dilemma about whom to give it to (which I addressed here last week.) Our ideal—generosity without extravagance, love without favoritism, and kindness without obligation—can be hard to find at J.C.Penney.

This is why I’ve all-but given up on purchased gifts for church members, deacons, Sunday school teachers, or small group leaders. Instead, I annually put my own passions and skills to work; maybe one of my ideas will nudge your own gift-giving in a fresh direction.

Give something from the whole family. These are gifts that involve even the littlest fingers in mixing, painting, and gluing. The result is a precious labor of love—imperfections and all. Ideas in this category can be found in abundance on Pinterest (just search “easy Christmas projects” or “kids crafts”) Some gifts I’ve seen other ministry families make:
• spice rub packaged in small tins
• cookies
• ornaments

Give something useful. We ministry women are good at spotting needs. Take a moment to think about the people in your ministry. What causes them stress over the holiday months? Then consider your own skills and gifts. Do you have a way to meet that need? This can be the best kind of gift. Some I’ve seen or done:
• homemade cinnamon rolls, frozen, ready to heat for overnight company
• scrapbook album, pre-prepped, just add photos
• pot of herb plants to use in holiday cooking
• quarts of soup (two varieties is nice) to be used now or frozen for a quick meal later

Give something kingdom-focused. The people in your ministry are concerned about the work of Christ’s kingdom. Your shared passion for this can lead to a gift that’s more than just stuff. And you probably know several worthy (and underfunded) ministries already. Most organizations and ministries will welcome your donation in honor of the people on your list. Bonus: this one’s easy.
• sponsor a child
• give a one-time Christmas gift to a foreign missionary your church already supports
• purchase Bibles or materials in a foreign language to assist a particular ministry

Whatever you give, and to whomever you give it, you do so before the Lord. He is the one who commends the giver of a cup of cold water as giving it to Christ himself. Every gift, no matter how small, is precious to Him.

What’s under your tree?


  1. When we were newly married and our gift giving budget was tight we would choose one ministry and donate our budget in honor of our loved ones. Then I would make an ornament to represent that ministry to give to our family and friends. My favorite one was Habitat for Humanity. I cross stitched little houses with the words "every <3 needs a home." - Dee Volkert

  2. Dee, I LOVE that idea! Something tangible, something eternal. Thanks for sharing :)

  3. Christmas reminds us of God's generosity toward us in sending Jesus. Thanks for showing us some ways we can reflect that giving spirit, involve other family members and practice good stewardship with the money He gives us.

  4. My husband is the pastor at a small church (about 60 people). We don't have the means to give Christmas gifts. However, we do do at Christmas time is host an "edible Christmas Card" after the Sunday service closest to Christmas. I make several yummy treats and decorate the fellowship hall with my own Christmas decorations. We play Christmas music and it is a fun time to fellowship and thank the members of our congregation for their support. Everyone looks forward to the Christmas treats!

  5. @Anonymous: Such a wonderful idea to serve others and promote fellowship! Plus, you never risk forgetting someone.


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