Every year Americans spend bucket loads of money (much of it on credit cards) in order to give Christmas gifts to family and friends. Some of those gifts are appreciated and used during the year. Others find their way to the back of the closet never to be seen again. In truth, we end up grabbing things out frustration because we feel like we just have to give something!

I was recently reading an article by Shawanda Greene at Bible Money Matters. In it she listed 5 less conventional ways to celebrate Christmas. I have adapted them to fit our setting:

1. Drop off items you’re no longer using at the Greene County Christian Outreach Thrift Store, the Habitat for Humanity store, or the local Goodwill. It won’t cost you anything to give away gently used (or unused) bread makers, musical instruments, exercise equipment, or whatever else a momentary state of delusion led you to purchase. If you haven’t used it or sold it in all these years, it’s highly unlikely you ever will. Christian Outreach sells the items at a rock-bottom price and the proceeds go toward meeting the needs of those of the p

oor – so it does good two ways! The Habitat store takes larger items and also sells them at a discounted price, and the proceeds are used to assist in building Habitat houses in our community. Goodwill uses the proceeds from donations to fund job training programs and placement services for people facing various employment challenges.

2. Sell unused gift cards and donate the cash to your favorite charity. Plastic Jungle offers up to 85% of the balance on your unwanted gift cards. You may also donate your unused or unwanted cards to your local church to be used as part of its benevolence ministry. You might also consider having a post-Christmas White Elephant exchange using gift cards instead of gifts.

3. Maximize the value of a dollar. Planning an international vacation isn’t the only time the strength of a dollar deserves consideration. Case in point, for less than the price of many iPhone apps, you can feed 4 Tanzanian children a healthy breakfast by donating $1 to GO Campaign. A $5 gift to Samaritan’s Purse will feed a hungry baby for a week. Your $25 gift to Save the Children will help health workers deliver lifesaving malaria medication to 10 Malawian children. And, of course, your gift of any size to the Lottie Moon Christmas offering will directly support the work of carrying the Gospel to the world!

4. Give anonymously. You might know someone who’s financially struggling to the point they don’t have enough money to meet their basic needs. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to help, but suppose you are led to give anonymously. Through Giving Anonymously, you can send a gift to a friend without the recipient knowing it came from you. If you or your small group wants to give anonymously, contact the church office who receives information of what families are in need in the community. You can arrange for them to pick up any gifts at the church.

5. Facilitate charitable giving. For the person who has everything – and it seems many of us do – give a gift in their name to a local or international ministry. Ministries include: First Call Pregnancy Center, ATLAS, Gideon’s International, Light of Messiah, Bearden Ministries, Simple Disciple World Ministries, and many others. You may also give gifts to the church’s building fund or missions fund in the name of a friend or family member.

Everything we do is to bring glory to Christ. Does our Christmas giving do that? If not, consider some less conventional ways of giving.

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