I have a confession to make: I have a love/hate relationship with the Christmas season.
I love the traditions, the decorations, and the music. When it comes to making memories, the holiday season is a perfect time to build family traditions that anchor us to home. At the Savage home, the traditions include decorating the tree together, baking and decorating cut out cookies, sipping homemade hot chocolate, and enjoying Christmas movies together as a family.
However there is one part of the holiday season that I don’t particularly enjoy. It’s the part that most people get all excited about. I confess that I am “gift-giving challenged.” Believe it or not, the gift-giving part of the Christmas holiday is the part that I enjoy the least.
According to Dr. Gary Chapman, there are five love languages: Quality Time, Physical Touch and Closeness, Acts of Service, Encouraging Words, and Gift-Giving and Receiving. The way I give and receive love is Quality Time. When I rank my love languages from most important to least important, Gift Giving and Receiving is at the bottom of my list. In fact, it’s not even on my radar screen at all! I’m one of those people who would go to a birthday party and not even think to bring a gift. Honestly, I’m thinking about spending time with the person (that’s my Quality Time love language surfacing!), not bringing them a gift.
The gift part of Christmas always overwhelms me, because it doesn’t come naturally to my personality and temperament. But it is a part of our culture and it’s certainly a part of the Christmas celebration.
Over the years, I’ve had to learn how to be more in tune with gift-giving. I’ve learned lessons from friends who love that part of the Christmas season. If you are gift-giving challenged like me, here are some strategies I’ve found to ease the stress of selecting gifts for those closest to you.
- Set aside time to browse for ideas. I’m one of those rare women who don’t like to shop. I go to the mall during the Christmas season and that’s about it. A shopping trip to get ideas for homemade gifts or purchased gifts helps get the wheels turning in your mind.
- Make Christmas shopping a special experience. Invite a friend to join you for the day, stop for lunch at your favorite restaurant, and spur one another on with conversation and shared ideas.
- Keep a file or folder for gift ideas. We have a small hanging file crate in our kitchen with a folder for each person in our family. I also have a few miscellaneous files including one marked “gift ideas.” This is where I make notes of gift ideas that each family member mentions throughout the year.
- Brainstorm with friends or other family members. Tap into the creativity and gift-giving-know-how of those around you who love to give gifts. It’s also possible that another family member might know of something that their brother or sister secretly longs for.
- Make special homemade gifts. If you enjoy baking, homebaked breads and cookies make great gifts for extended family. If you are a scrapbooker, a small scrapbook for Grandma may be just the perfect gift. I enjoy writing and last Christmas I wrote and framed a tribute for my mom and dad. It was one of the most precious gifts they have ever received from me and brought tears to their eyes when they read it.
- Change your perspective. The heart of gift-giving is the idea that “you thought of me while we were apart.” Instead of looking for that perfect thing to buy, think about the person instead. What do they love to do? What are their hopes and dreams? What hobbies or interests do they have? When you deliberately reflect about each person, the gift ideas begin to flow naturally.
- Remember the reason for the season. Christmas is really about Jesus. Ask God to help you see things you might not usually see. Jesus was in-tune with the people around Him. He can help you better tune into the people around you!
If you have a love/hate relationship with the Christmas season because of the gift-giving piece of the celebration, don’t give up. There is hope. With a little bit of organization, creativity, and intentionality you can turn the gift selection process into an adventure you take every holiday season!
Jill Savage speaks to audiences of thousands and is the author of twelve books including Better Together, No More Perfect Moms and No More Perfect Kids. She’s the founder of Hearts at Home (www.HeartsatHome.org), a ministry for moms. Her biggest accomplishment? Being a mom to five beautiful children and Nana to three precious grandbabies. Jill Savage encourages tens of thousands each year through her speaking and writing. Why is she so successful? Because she’s just one of us — a mother trying to make it through each day with the challenges life can present to us. Jill and her family live in an old farmhouse in Normal, IL, where she admits that she burns bacon on a regular basis. You can learn more about Jill at www.JillSavage.org.
The Life of a Single Mom is a national, faith-based, nonprofit that exists to see that no single mom walks alone. To date, we have worked with more than 1,500 churches & community groups to start or improve a single mom’s support group in cities throughout the U.S. and beyond. We have a large array of books, curriculum, training materials, and online instructional videos to support ministry leaders who lead single moms. Our single mom programs focus on empowering single moms to grow spiritually, emotionally, financially, and parentally through a number of projects including: Single Mom University, Single Moms Across America, the National TLSM Single Moms Conference, and a variety of programs throughout the U.S. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com