Christmas Gift-Giving With Purpose

Up until a few years ago, our Christmas present plan was sort of…well…non-existent. We had, un-intentionally, adopted the gift-giving traditions that my husband had grown up with of giving three presents for each child, each slightly larger than the last. On Christmas morning, however, we found that with four kids (at the time) getting many toys from us, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and Sunday school teachers, our house looked like Toys-R-Us had exploded and its contents had landed in our living room. We desperately wanted to change this habit of over-indulgence.  In addition to the excess toy issue, we also desired to restructure our gift EMPHASIS.

In stark contrast to traditional gift-giving, in the latter years of MY growing up, my family’s Christmas evolved away from giving presents to each other. We slowly began veering from the lighted tree with wrapped boxes oozing out from under it, and began only displaying our heirloom Nativity scene.  In addition, we focused on giving gifts to those in our community who were in need. My mom was often heard saying things like, “Christmas is not YOUR birthday. It’s Christ’s. I will make a big deal of gifts on YOUR birthday, but on Christmas, I will make a big deal of Christ.”

Christmas gift giving tradition that is patterned after the 3 gifts of the Wise Men

After a few years of overabundance, I wanted to pass some of those same memories of Christ-centered Christmases on to my own kids.  So after much deliberation, my husband and I were able to meld the two gift-giving traditions together to make our own household GIFT PLAN.

In keeping with the three gifts tradition, our PLAN still consists of three presents apiece for each of our kids. The only difference is, they are not all plastic toys with hefty price tags.  They are gifts with a purpose that correlate with the gifts that were given to the very Baby whose birth we celebrate: Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh.



Gold is something desired.  A gift of great value to its owner.  This is THE toy under the tree…a toy that he/she has mentioned over the course of the year or one that we think he/she might like.



Since Frankincense is a resin or perfume that can be experienced and enjoyed by all who come near it, this gift is something that is given to an INDIVIDUAL child but one that ALL the family can experience and enjoy together. This is a gift that is shared.  Examples of Frankincense gifts we have given in the past are a family game, a DVD, or tickets to the zoo or waterpark.



Like Frankincense, it’s aromatic, but is used mostly for medicinal purposes. In fact, it was myrrh that was mixed with vinegar and offered up to Jesus while he was being crucified. Today, myrrh can be found in most antiseptics and healing salves. Due to its obvious healing properties and its high demand throughout history, its value at times has been considered equal to or greater than the weight equivalent value of gold. Its undeniable ability to heal and to cleanse has led me to choose myrrh to be the example for a Christmas gift of faith. This is a gift that emphasizes Christ and His life and naturally compels its receiver to have a fuller relationship with Him.  Examples of Myrrh gifts that we have given in the past or hope to give in the future are a new Bible, a devotional book, a worship CD, tickets to a Christian concert, a T-shirt with a Biblical message, or a Bible story narrative on CD.  These are often used in tandem with our homeschool daily devotions.


Now as we approach Christmas morning, our home is still full of gifts.  But they are gifts with PURPOSE, patterned after the three gifts given so very long ago.

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  1. I LOVE THIS idea!!!! I’ve been searching for ways to make Christmas meaningful while still incorporating tradition, and this is an amazing concept. Thanks SO much for sharing!!

  2. This post is such an answer to a prayer!
    Question for you…how does your gift plan work with the extended family?

    1. I was wondering the same thing. How do you incorporate grandparents into this idea? Do you ask that they don’t give gifts? Or request they limit it to maybe just one?

  3. This brought me peace and that I can finally enjoy Christmas with my family with out stressing out. Been trying to figure out how to train my children how to celebrate Christmas and really remember the reason for it. Good article! TY!

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