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You Can Change the World by How You Shop This Christmas

You Can Change the World by How You Shop This Christmas

It’s that time of year again! You know the one. When special music, decorations, and good food make you smile. When good deeds are done, and cheer is in the air. Christmas, the season of giving. This is a favorite time of year for most people. Many enjoy giving and especially getting presents. Gift giving makes it easy to buy too much and then a little more. There are plenty of sales in the stores and online. A good deal is hard to pass up. But it is time to check our habits. 

Some Concerning Facts: 

Americans trash 25% more waste during the holiday season (Thanksgiving to New Year) than any other time totaling 25 million tons of garbage.

If each family in America wrapped just 3 presents in re-used material, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.

Many Americans spend over $1000 on gifts at Christmas time while the average annual donation rate is around $300!

Those are some baffling numbers. It is easy to get carried away in the decorating, gift giving, and card sending. But Christians have fretted about the materialism that surrounds the holiday season in recent generations.

Consumerism has made it easy for us to get caught up in the accoutrements of Christmas while neglecting the aspect of it. Jesus was born in humble circumstances that contrast astoundingly with the excess of our modern celebration of his advent. 

Please understand, I believe we should celebrate the birth of our Savior. Jesus came and took on himself the poor, wretched condition of sin to offer us the riches of heaven. We should celebrate his birth as a foreshadow of that heavenly wealth with decorations and gift giving. But we also need to consider how our celebrations impact the earth God has given us to care for as well as the people who make the gifts we give. Celebration is good, unbridled excess is not. Profligate waste is unbecoming of a Christian who professes to follow a man that had no place to lay his head.

So, what are some ways that you can celebrate Christ this Christmas in a manner that honors him?

One way is to make Christ the center of your decorations. Make it obvious the décor is in honor of him. Another idea is to reduce waste in your decorations to minimize the impact on God’s wonderful creation. Decorate your home with reusable adornments. Look for decorations made with recycled material. Choose L.E.D. lights as they use much less electricity than incandescent. If you have kids or grandkids, plan an activity to make decorations with recycled scraps such as paper chains. Decorate with nature. Natural materials like wood, glass, and live plants are preferable to plastic. Choose a live Christmas tree as these are more environmentally friendly than artificial. Choose to avoid single use disposable tableware whenever possible. Use those beautiful dishes you paid so much for rather than flimsy paper and plastic. Wrap gifts in decorative boxes and bags that can be reused. Consider using fabric for a classy look or recycled newspaper for a simple elegant look. 

Another way to honor Christ is to be thoughtful in your gift giving. Give gifts that people want. Get a list beforehand of items to choose from. Avoid giving gifts you’re pretty sure will not be wanted. Choose gifts that will last. For those people that are hard to pick gifts for try a gift card, their favorite food item, or favor coupons like this and this.

Many items on store shelves these days are made under horrible labor conditions. Consider the social impact of what you buy when possible. Look for labels that promote humane working conditions like Fair Trade, Certified B Corp, and Made in America. Also, gravitate toward labels that are beneficial for God’s creation such as “organic” or “made from recycled materials.” Goods made with such labels can be more expensive, but perhaps less quantity is preferable when those items do more good. Better yet simply buy used or refurbished items. This is especially convenient for young kids who grow out of toys and clothes quickly and don’t know the difference anyway.

What if your gifts could have an even bigger impact? Many people wish they could donate more money to mission work and charity. What if you could give more without making any more money? What if the profits from the goods you buy didn’t go to line the pockets of CEOs or Wall Street brokers, but instead furthered the gospel work? Let me tell you how the money you spend on Christmas gifts can support the work of spreading the message of Christ.

Buy your gifts from Christian mission organizations. Here are several ideas. Purchase candles, lotion, soap or other self care products from Thistle Farms. Thistle Farms is run by a battered women’s shelter where all the products are made by the residents who are working to rebuild their lives. All proceeds support the program. Get tea or coffee (including decaf) from Hope Coffee. They help fund projects that meet basic needs of water, shelter and education while sharing the gospel. Give hot cocoa with a mug from The Salvation Army. I don’t think the Salvation Army needs any introduction. Purchase books for children and adults from Amazing Facts’ book store.

Alternatively, give a gift that honors a person and helps the needy such as a charitable donation in someone’s name. A good example is an Honor Card with the honorees name from This Christmas, change the world by how you shop. Better yet, buy products from these organizations year-round!

Most importantly, slow down. Make this Christmas about connecting with God. Embrace the spirit of the season and revel in the joy of the birth of our Savior. Christmas is about relationships, not gifts. Spend less time shopping for things and more time “shopping” for memory making experiences. Keep this Christmas simple. Make it about Jesus, not about material things or a hectic schedule. Determine to connect with others. Talk to people in the checkout line, at work, at social gatherings. Discuss the reason for the season. Let Jesus be the gift you give this year. That would be the greenest thing you could do this Christmas.


Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash.

David F. Garner is from Tennessee and has been a writer and youth ministry worker for over ten years. You can find youth ministry resources at his blog


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