The Gift of Seven –
You may have difficult people in your life as I had. People for whom you struggle to remember good memories. It took years to realize that was the gift they wanted, and some special prodding on how to give the gift of seven. Should you be blessed not to have this issue, the gift of seven can apply for an elderly family member, someone who has everything, or someone who needs encouragement. It is a gift of love and hope in the form of memories (and favorite candy or treat if desired). A single person or a family can brainstorm for 7 happy memories. Write each memory out on a separate note and add scripture verse on hope below each one. Each of those notes goes into a tiny box or envelope labeled with a number. Suggest to the giver that the boxes are opened one a day beginning on Christmas. If you have a large family and lots of memories you can keep a person feeling loved and blessed for longer than 7 days, as they look forward to opening a new memory each day. It’s a treat to include a piece of individually wrapped (sugar full or sugar-free) chocolate in each gift, or you can add a box of favorites to open on the last day. This gift benefits both the giver and the receiver!
Traditions that Keep on Giving
Adults forgo receiving gifts, and instead each contribute set gift amount to one charity each year. Adults can brain storm local charities, then vote on selection, write charity names and draw a selection each year, or each person have a turn of selecting a charity.
Draw names with one name more than the number of people– each person will receive a gift and the last name can be Jesus, Others, or Charity. That gift would be sent to organizations like Samaritan’s Purse on behalf of your family for something like “Chickens for a family to start a business” or “Blankets for a family”.
Display Christmas Cards where they can be used as prayer reminders. Each night before Christmas (or through January, or all year long as the family prays together), one person has a turn at picking a card and praying for that person or family. It’s a great gift also to be reminded on a regular basis of those who are important in our lives, and who consider us most important in theirs.
Be a prayer partner for a family member. Distribute red envelopes to everyone in family. Each envelope has name of family member on it. They can be distributed before Christmas and put on the tree or they can be addressed to be mailed to each person after Christmas. Each person with a red envelope are encouraged to write one thing they are thankful for about person named on envelope and one thing they are praying for that person in the coming year. It’s an encouraging gift that keeps on giving.
Select a local family in distress and present a tree of gift cards (grocery, gas, and department stores). One way to make a tree is to place a branch in a flowerpot filled with plaster of Paris, and attach the gift cards. You can usually purchase “scrip” gift cards to benefit your church or school, thus gifting two places at once.
Start a Christmas Jar for next year. Canning jars are available for each person on Christmas day. They can be any size. The children can decorate labels for the jars or labels can be pre-made. A note (unsigned) can be placed into the jar. (Suggestions – this gift is given in acknowledgment of how our first Christmas Gift – Jesus Christ – changed my life. I hope it will be a blessing to you and that you will fill your jar and share with someone else next year.) Beginning the day following Christmas fill the jar with change. Next year, between December 1 through December 23, each person must give his or her jar anonymously. This gift can also be a fun time of exchanging stories of the recipient’s response to receive the jar, or their reaction as they ‘find’ the jar where you placed it.
Before our grandchildren married we divided the number of family members by the number of families. Four families and 16 family members meant each family bought 4 gifts. Adding one for Charity would make 17 – meaning four families has 4 names, and 1 family would have 5 names (I usually asked for that as I love shopping the most!). A different family could draw 5 names next year. We did this so as not to financially burden any larger families. As the grandchildren have begun to marry, we began them with 1 gift (one extra person) and and when they add children will likely make it 2 gifts the next year. Our gift limit is $20 (we started with $7.50!)so the focus is on the thoughtfulness (and often creativity) more than the size of the gift.
I’m not quite sure how this tradition got the weird name, but it can be fun to find a no-longer used or appreciated item in your home and gift wrap it for a mystery-gift exchange. One way to do it is to have numbers in a container. Each person draws a number to indicate order of selecting the gifts (often in packages disguising the contents). The number can be used two more ways: After receiving the gifts, the order of drawing can be re-done or reversed so that each person in order, can request an exchange with someone else based on appearance of that still-wrapped gift. Then everyone opens their gift and the third round is that the first person opens their gift. Then the second who can decide if they want to keep their gift or exchange for the other opened gift (person 1). Each person in order opens their gift and can repeat choosing to keep their gift (which might get stolen) or selecting from all opened gifts. After the last person makes their selection, the person who drew number one gets the final selection of all the gifts. It makes for a fun time with lots of laughter, and can also be giving gifts that keep on giving as some items return for re-gifting as white-elephants year after year!
Whatever you do, don’t go into debt for the rest of the year as we did when younger. The best gifts, after all, are from the heart and cannot be purchased.