Small things really can make a big difference: Alternative gift ideas for this Christmas

                One of the things I’m learning in my work with MCC is that small things really can and do make a big difference.

A good example of this is the family in Kamuli that I shared about in my blog a few weeks ago.  Our partner organization, Aids Education Group for the Youth, gave two piglets to this family, at a cost of only about $30.  As more piglets were born, the family was able to sell several of the pigs and buy a cow.  With the income from the pigs and the cow, they are able to support one of their children to attend University in Kampala.  A university education in exchange for a $30 investment is a very good return!

MCCChristmas     Every year, MCC puts together a Christmas giving catalog that allows people to contribute small gifts like these that can have a significant impact in the lives of people around the world.  As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, let us think about how we can reflect His love and give to others – not only to our friends and family, but also those in need.  Here are some ideas of “alternative gifts” for this holiday season:

–          Consider giving a relief or development gift through MCC or a similar organization that offers Christmas giving catalogs.  Or consider a combined gift – one year I gave my housemates a basket with the theme of “keeping warm.”  I made a contribution to buy blankets for those in need, and packed this certificate with some fuzzy socks, homemade hot cocoa, and a mug.

–          Get your children involved!  Having children involved in giving can also counteract some of the hyper consumerism that emerges  during the holidays.  Designate a set amount of money for each child and let them be in charge of deciding how they want to spend it to bless others.

–          Give a contribution as a family to an organization, a community initiative in your community, or a family in need – come together and decide as a group how you would like to be a blessing to others this season, or have a contest and see who can come up with the best idea on how to use a designated amount of money to bless others.

–          Hospitality is another great way to show love and give an alternative gift during the holidays.  Christmas has become such a stressful and busy time for so many people that it’s easy to overlook the many people who are lonely and/or far away from their families.  A wonderful gift would be including these people  in your holiday celebrations, or inviting them to your house for Christmas dinner.

These are just a few ideas – how do you and your family give back during the holidays?

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