LAST-MINUTE ALTERNATIVE CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS (to give AND to receive)
It’s the time of the year when everyone’s giving each other gifts, like they do every year.
But give what? What gifts should we give to others?
Here are SEVEN last-minute alternative Christmas gift ideas, both to give and to receive!
1. GIVE THE GIFT OF ATTENTION
Most people have relatives that they don’t like, find annoying and often dread seeing. We usually see some (or all!) of them at Christmas. This Christmas, we can give those unlikable, annoying, dreadful relatives the gift of actually paying them some attention, loving them, and listening to them. It will probably be difficult and boring, at least at first, but it will sure be a gift. They are unique, valuable people just like we are and if we do this, we might actually be pleasantly surprised, connect with them and enjoy ourselves! This Christmas, give the gift of attention (or the present of your presence)!
2. GIVE THE GIFT OF GOOD NEWS
Why every year do we waste money on giving to people that we don’t like material things that they won’t like? Why also do we spend so much money on material things that may be good gifts, up to a point, but won’t ultimately satisfy us? When we die, and at the end of the world, all those shiny wrapped up gifts that we’ve received over the years will be burned up, destroyed in fire (this is true whether you are a Christian or whether you are a scientific materialist who believes that one day the Sun is going to explode). What will remain? People. All the people that have received the Gospel (good news) of Jesus (if you’re not on board with this yet, please skip to the last section of this post). So why don’t we give that to people instead this Christmas? We could give them a physical gospel book, or the Bible, or talk to them patiently, listening-ly and humbly about the Gospel, or write them a loving letter explaining the Gospel and give it to them along with the culturally-expected material gift(s) that will often be forgotten by the next December. This Christmas, give the gift of [the] Good News!
3. GIVE THE GIFT OF PRAYER
As well as having already been given the amazing gift of the Gospel, which we can give to others, we have also been given the amazing gift of prayer -talking to God to tell him about and ask him for things- which we can give to others by praying for them and teaching them to pray. Again, rather than just giving people culturally-expected material gift(s) this year, why don’t we renew our prayers for them, for them to be blessed, to be protected, and to come to know Jesus Christ (/more)? Better still, as we pray to Father God and ask him for boldness and courage to be his witnesses, following the model of the disciples in Acts, why couldn’t we also offer to pray for our close relatives and friends in person, out loud, perhaps laying hands on them (also according to the scriptural precedent) to pray for healing from sickness, share an encouraging word, ask God for favour in their life or just thank him for how much he loves them? This Christmas, give the gift of prayer!
4. RECEIVE THE GIFT OF SELF-WORTH
In our culture, when we celebrate a birthday, though many people have forgotten this, we are celebrating God’s gift of that person to their parents, to the church, and to the world. This is well depicted in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Middle Earth mythology, where hobbits don’t receive gifts on their birthdays, but instead they give gifts to their close family and friends. This can be construed as commemorating the way in which that person is a gift to those around them, which is what their birthday is supposed to recall. [Similarly, a good way of thinking of Christmas is as being an enactment of this en masse (no pun intended) as Christmas is a celebration of Christ’s birthday, the gift of Christ to humanity, and we are all (by his birth-right, if not yet in actuality) part of the Body of Christ.] Listen: You are God’s gift to humanity! Some men think they are God’s gift to women, when usually they’re just God’s gift to one woman, but we are all God’s gift to the entire world! You are not just a cosmic accident, you were fearfully and wonderfully made by God, through the processes that Science studies, as a unique, cherished and loved child who blesses his heart and can bless others around you. This Christmas, receive the gift of self-worth!
5. RECEIVE THE GIFT OF PURPOSE FOR YOUR LIFE
This incredible identity that you have also means that as a gift to humanity, you have an amazing purpose to fulfill and enter into in your life. You were never meant to live a solely mediocre existence, getting on monotonously with your 9-to-5 job and living a neat and tidy comfortable life at home the rest of the time, without ever making any spiritual impact on anyone. You were made for so much more than that! You were made for adventure, for a battle between the Kingdom of Light and Darkness, for sharing the good news with people and making disciples of every nation. When Jesus said “Freely you have received; so freely give” (-Jesus Christ, Matthew 10:8, in the context of preaching the good news, healing the sick and driving out darkness), he didn’t mean it as a nice idea, he meant it as a command. Your primary identity and calling are as a child of God and a disciple-maker, not as a money-maker and job-worker, so the former should affect the latter! Wake up! Your life has a great purpose! Your 9-to-5 workplace is a spiritual battlefield! Your home is a family shelter in a cosmic war! This Christmas, receive the gift of purpose for your life!
6. RECEIVE THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
We’re not alone in carrying out this purpose. In fact, God is the one who carries it out, and we are just along for the ride. And, with respect and love for my cessationist brothers and sisters who hold a different opinion, he has given us some amazing gifts by his Holy Spirit for glorifying Jesus Christ among the nations. He has given us the gifts of prophecy, glossolalia, interpretation, discernment, miracle-working, healing, words of knowledge, words of wisdom, and faith! If you don’t know about these gifts or how to receive them and want to start learning how to use them, read 1 Corinthians 12-14 and John 14, ask God for them, and find some people who know about them who can teach you. To be a Christian and not to know about or practice these gifts is like leaving a load of shiny presents from Daddy under the Christmas tree and not opening them or enjoying them! This Christmas, receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit!
7. RECEIVE THE GIFT OF ETERNAL LIFE
And, lastly, this Christmas, of course and most importantly don’t miss the greatest gift of all: About 2,000 years ago, GOD gave us the gift of HIMSELF in the person of his Son, God-made-flesh, Jesus Christ. (This is what ‘Christ-mas’, the ‘Christ-celebration/thanksgiving’ or even the ‘Christ-sending’) is all about. Not only that, but then about 33 years later Jesus gave his life for us on a cross (X) so that we could be forgiven for our wrongdoing and receive the receive the free gift of eternal life. (This is what ‘X-mas’ is all about, as well as being symptomatic of the contemporary poststructuralist reduction of the Word of God to a mere sign or mark). If you don’t believe this yet or have questions, get yourself to a believing church this Christmas! This Christmas, receive the gift of eternal life by trusting in Jesus Christ!
Many ideas in this post were plaigarised from Joanna Tarassenko.