Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Different Kind of Christmas For Your Family

I'll bet you're already envisioning what Christmas will be like at your house. Perhaps it will include a  service somewhere, family gatherings, a special breakfast, gifts under the tree, visits to local lighting displays and lots of great food.

You probably have other special traditions that are unique to your family and all those things are good and right to enjoy. Christmas should be a time of celebration, joy and family.

However, what might it be like if we allowed Christmas to take a significant turn in our home and we did something radically different? What if we made it a day more of giving than getting? What if we did one of the simplest, yet most memorable holidays yet?

A few suggestions.  First, think about purchasing a gift that keeps on giving. World Vision and other agencies have catalogues where you can buy an animal, for example, that would help keep on feeding a family in another country. Their brochure or website is usually full of ideas from small to large that are difference makers and would model for your children what it means to really sacrifice for someone else.

You  can invite your children to be a part of the decision making process, too, and have lots of fun picking out just the right gift. You can also get more information about who you will be helping plus follow up later.

Second, think about only giving each other one or two gifts this year. Explain that you're going to use the money you save to help others or you want to just simplify the day and focus on its real meaning. Another option is to just limit the amount you spend on each other but see who can get the most for the money.

Third, read the Christmas story together and/or watch a video that will help you think about Christmas as a family. Even in Christian homes the actually story of Jesus' birth can get lost in all the busyness that we allow to crowd into our homes. You can count on the TV networks to only show holiday movies that get no deeper than dreams, trees, smiles and snowmen. Give your family better.

Fourth, go serve others somewhere on Christmas Day. There are usually nursing homes, shelters and homeless camps who would love to have a family like yours come and spend a part of the day with them volunteering or just talking to people. Or if you're willing to consider bigger ideas use your holiday time off to do a missions trip.

You can no doubt come up with many more ideas but think about making this the most unique kind of Christmas ever. I know your family will never be the same and you'll have memory that you will talk about for a long time.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.


  1. We have often taken food to folks who have to work on Christmas. Last year we dropped off food for the local EMS crew, and showed up just as they went roaring out. It being a small town the office was unlocked, and we were able to drop the food without being seen. What fun!

  2. Great idea. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  3. Gary, this is great. I grew up in a household with parents who firmly believed it was Jesus' birthday and not ours and for that reason we would give to those less fortunate at Christmas time instead of giving gifts. We never had a Christmas tree or exchanged gifts.

    Now, that I have my own family, I've tweaked that because I love the smell of a Christmas tree and they're so beautiful when they're lit up. But we still don't exchange gifts. And I must say, this is a tradition my husband and I both appreciate because when people are running around at Christmas time getting last minute gifts or are stressed out over finances, we don't have any of that. We are really able to enjoy that time we have off from work. It's such a blessing.

    Just another way we make Christmas special. We are in the world at this time of the year but certainly not of the world. It is one of the most stress-free times of the year for us.

  4. Wow, what a great example, Fawn. I'm sure the holidays are much more restful and reflective for you and your family. Thanks for sharing your story.

  5. Hi Gary, how can I contact you for interviewing you for my family blog? I would welcome your hints! Thanks from Italy

  6. If you want to speak in person the best way would be to email my assistant Dana and set up a phone appointment time that would be convenient. Her email is: She can put it on my schedule and then you can call or Skype me.

    If you want to just send questions to me then I can answer them that way in writing as well. Email me at: Happy to help out if I can.