The over-commercialism of Christmas can leave parents exacerbated as they strive to keep the meaning of Christmas at the forefront for their families. I experienced that frustration when my three children were younger and came across a great gift-giving alternative in a magazine article. It was a wonderful concept for saving money in my Christmas giving while also teaching my children the importance of the meaning of the season—the birth of Jesus.
A “Three Wise Men Christmas” is inspired by the three gifts that the wise men brought to Jesus—gold, frankincense and myrrh. Here’s how it works:
1. Gifts of Gold: Gold is a precious metal and in biblical times was commonly a gift given to kings or those of authority. For the wise men, it was the best gift of what they had and symbolized their realization that Jesus was not just an earthly king but also the “King of kings”.
A gift of gold should be something your child will treasure. When my children were younger, their gold gift was usually a favorite toy or keepsake. As they got older, the gold gift became something more personally treasured such as a pair of earrings for my girls and a gift certificate to have their ears pierced, or a pocketknife for my son engraved with his initials.
2. Gifts of Frankincense: In biblical times this aromatic resin was used in incense and perfumes. It was very expensive and was used as part of sacrifice offerings and in worship.
A gift of frankincense should be something that will be used for worship or to enhance your child’s spiritual life. When my children were younger they would receive gifts like a Veggie Tales DVD, a children’s Christian praise and worship CD, or a children’s Bible. When they got older, they would receive Christian magazines or novels, a CD of their favorite Christian artist, or tickets to a Christian teen retreat weekend.
3. Gifts of Myrrh: Myrrh is another aromatic resin. It has been used throughout history as a perfume, incense, and medicine. In biblical times it was used to embalm the dead and make them smell nice. The wise men’s gift of myrrh symbolized the ultimate bitter sacrifice that Jesus would make—His life.
A gift of myrrh should be something your child would use for their body such as shoes, clothing, perfume/cologne, etc. When my children were younger they would receive bubble bath, scented body wash, etc. When they got older, they would receive make up, or a more expensive perfume or cologne.
Every Christmas, I would explain the biblical significance of each gift to my children in an age-appropriate way. As they got older, I would read the biblical account of the wise men’s gift giving before my children would open each of their three gifts. I would also decorate the gifts in gold, brown and black paper or gift bags to differentiate them from other Christmas gifts.
You don’t necessarily have to partake in the biblical teaching aspects of the “Three Wise Men Christmas” as I did. You can participate in an alternative “Three Gift Christmas” and still curtail over-abundant gift giving. Simply ask your children to come up with a list that includes something they want, something they need and something to read.
Hopefully this article has provided you with an alternative gift-giving idea this holiday season allowing you more time and money to spend making important memories with your children. Speaking of money, the New Year is right around the corner. Why not consider making it a year of financial literacy for your children by teaching them the important principles of money management. Click here to learn more about FamilyMint and its award-winning money management program for kids.