Gifts are an exciting part of Christmas. Many of us give gifts to honor Jesus and his amazing gift of eternal life. Others of us give gifts to emulate the three wise men who sought to honor the Christ Child. Regardless of the reason, Christmas gift giving is a wonderful way to teach financial literacy as a Christian homeschool family.
Many children will know the phrase “it’s better to give than to receive,” but fewer will appreciate the need to give responsibly. Finding gifts for family and friends is easy for most children, but respecting the financial limits of the family is often more challenging. Including your kids in Christmas gift planning provides an amazing opportunity to model responsible spending and godly financial management. Bonus—it's a practical, real-life math lesson, too!
Giving to Friends and Family
God declared we should love one another. One avenue of loving is to give of ourselves: our time, our energy, our talents, and our money. Godly giving involves giving a thoughtful gift, one that shows love and expresses respect. Babysitting for free for an overwhelmed family, raking leaves for an elderly neighbor, hemming pants for a person who can’t sew, or buying a new coffee maker for an early riser are all wonderful examples of thoughtful gifts.
Here is a quick set of steps to help children think through their gift giving for family and friends this Christmas.
1. Create a Master Gift List and Attach a Per Person Budget
Have children create a list of all the individuals they wish to buy gifts for this Christmas.
Help them decide how much they (or you as a family) are able to spend per person.
- Do they wish to cast a large net with small gifts for many people?
- Would they rather focus on giving larger gifts to only those most important to them?
Be a sounding board and help them think through how best to use limited resources to show appreciation to loved ones. Make sure your children consider non-purchased gifts that people would enjoy.
2. Price Shop
Many children struggle with budgeting because of unrealistic expectations of how far their money will go. Taking them window shopping at a store or online can help children learn to compare prices. You may also wish to help them understand the value of waiting for a sale before purchasing.
Children will often suggest homemade items as alternatives to purchased ones. While this is a wonderful idea, help them estimate the true cost of that homemade gift.
- Is it something they can do on their own or will they need outside help? If so, how much?
- What materials do they need to make the item and how much do they cost?
3. Consider Alternatives for Items Over Budget
Help your children plan alternatives for those items that are too far beyond your budget. For example, a brand new Kitchen Aid mixer might be too pricey, but a hand held mixer might work just as well with less expense. Helping children assess the true value of items by examining quality and price are also wonderful life lessons!
- Is this purchase something the person needs?
- Will these items be used enough to be worth the cost?
- What purchased gifts could we replace with gifts of time, talent, or energy?
4. Consider Limiting Gift Giving with an Exchange
To help keep costs low, consider a Secret Santa exchange. Each child is responsible for only one present with a predetermined dollar limit. A gift exchange like this is a fantastic way for kids to experience the joy of giving without going overboard on spending.
Giving to Charity
As Christians, we are called to give generously. Kids absolutely understand that they should give to those in need. Learning to give without threatening their own family’s financial security is harder to master.
Christmas is a wonderful time to focus on how God has given us everything (James 1:17). He is there for all people, not just those with homes or those with enough food, but for everyone. We can spread God’s love for all by sponsoring families, sharing our blessings, and participating in community and church sponsored gift drives.
1. Sponsor a Family
Help your kids identify a family which could use a boost this Christmas. Decide how you'll help—anything from buying groceries to covering the electric bill. Take your kids shopping for the kids in the family you've chosen to sponsor. Put your children in charge of selecting the gifts within your predetermined budget. Sponsoring a family is a powerful reminder of how blessed we are to have each other.
2. Closet Treasures
Let your kids help you sort through their closets and find clothes that don’t fit them or that they no longer wear. Take them with you to donate the items to a charity shop, thrift store, or clothes ministry. If you are allowed, spend a few hours volunteering in the shop to make your donation even more memorable.
3. Angel Trees, Christmas Boxes, and Toy Drives
Several toy donations, coat drives, and angel trees requesting donated items show up this time of year. Let kids know that they are helping choose gifts for kids who might not get anything else this Christmas or may not be able to be home with their families.
“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15, NIV) Let us rejoice in God this season and give to others in celebration, because He has given us everything. For “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23, NIV).