Christmas is such a wonderful time of year. But for struggling families, Christmas can be a huge stress. I was recently asked what kind of gifts helped us during seasons of need so I thought I’d share giving ideas for families in need. We have personally experienced all of these gifts first hand and each made a huge difference in our lives.
We have also given several of these to other families and I can attest to truth of Acts 20:35: “It is more blessed to give than receive.” Giving does something deep in your heart. And giving sacrificially takes you to a place of incredible vulnerability and trust with God.
Imagine a world where every family gave practically to another family each Christmas! What would our society be like? Imagine the heart humanity would grow! Imagine the connectedness of communities. Imagine the love and care and respect and gratefulness humans would have for each other.
You might be wondering: “Is giving to people in need a good idea? Wouldn’t that be “enabling” or giving a crutch to people who seem to be in chronic need?” Yes, there are good reasons to be cautious. However, Jesus challenges us to give even to people who may misuse our gifts. (Click on that sentence to read more about that!)
As you prepare to celebrate all your favorite Christmas traditions, consider adding a new one by giving hope to a family in need. As you give the gift of hope, you will discover the Presence of God in your midst. Giving to people in need is the very heart of God. He gave His Son to a lost and desperate world. Giving to people in need is to mirror the very heart of God! I can think of no better way to celebrate the birth of our Savior than to give this way!
1. The Gift of Heat: Pay the electricity bill.
This is a huge need for struggling families because electricity is a bill you can control. If you need to reduce expenses, just don’t turn on the heat. Helping a family pay their electric bill helps them reduce sickness, stress, and other things like mold! Call your local electric company about their process for paying someone’s current bill or adding a credit to their account for future months.
2. The Gift of Food: Give groceries or a grocery gift card.
Grocery expense is another bill you can control but when you have growing children you have to spend money on food. An adult can survive on top ramen if needed… but child malnourishment is not to be trifled with. Simply, the gift of groceries utterly changes lives. (Click on that sentence to read more about that!) Not sure what kind of groceries to get? Grocery gift cards are awesome because people can get exactly what their family needs. And there is something so boosting about getting to go to the grocery store yourself!
3. The Gift of Clothes: Give a clothing gift card.
Clothes are a constant need for growing children. In addition to kids outgrowing their clothes, each season brings specific clothing needs. At Christmas time, kids need winter coats, shoes, warm pjs, as well as the regular things like pants and t-shirts. And kids are not the only ones who need clothes this time of year. Adults wear out shoes and clothes too! Often parents in need will make sure their kids have coats and will go without themselves in order to do so.
4. The Gift of Christmas Décor: Give a tree, decorations, or a wreath.
For those who love Christmas trees and décor, it doesn’t feel like Christmas without them. I really struggled one year when we simply could not afford to get a tree. A family turned up on our doorstep with a beautiful fresh tree, decorations and a gift card for a tree topper. Our little kids picked out the tree topper and it is an annual reminder of that beautiful family and God’s sweet care and provision. What is it about Christmas Trees?! Utterly delightful. Fills your home with warmth and joy. Here are some questions to ask the family you want to bless: Do you have a Christmas Tree and decorations this year? If answer is no: Do you want a tree? What size? What kind would delight your family? If answer is yes: Are there any decorations you are missing that would delight your family to have?
5. The Gift of Medical care: Pay toward medical bills or insurance payments.
These days it seems everyone has medical bills they are paying off. And if you know someone with a new baby, they probably are paying off the birth costs. Contributing to medical bill reduction is helping to lift a huge burden for struggling families. It took us years to pay off each baby birth. A generous family paid off the balance of our middle child’s birth and words cannot express how life changing it was for our lives practically and emotionally. Freeing a family from the ongoing burden of medical bills is a life changing gift.
6. The Gift of Fun: Give a family activity gift certificate.
Enabling families to do things together is giving the gift of family strengthening. Just think about the joy and memories made when families go to the zoo, the aquarium, a water park, a theme park etc. For families who are struggling, doing fun activities is out of financial reach. The truth is, I often felt like leaving home, for any reason, cost money. But having fun as a family is so important as it creates memories that serve as a relationship foundation for years to come. Giving families the gift a fun activity together is a gift that will bear fruit for a lifetime. (Note: Consider if there are any additional associated costs with the activity. Does parking cost? Is there public transport? If there is an associated cost, consider including extra to cover them.)
7. The Gift of Help: Give house cleaning.
Words cannot express how major this gift was when I was ill during pregnancy. A friend gave me four hours of professional house cleaning. It is incredible to have someone else clean your bathrooms and kitchen. I’ve also been incredibly blessed by a friend who wanted to help me by doing light cleaning several times. It was a challenge to my pride and shame but an incredible blessing once I embraced it. (Click on that sentence to read more about that!) When someone else does your chores, you get extra time with your kids. This gift is a big deal!
8. The Gift of Choice: Give a gift card to a bookstore, toy store etc.
We have been blessed with amazing hand-me-downs and gifts. Our kids have wonderful books and toys. Also, we are avid library users and our kids love books. I thought we would never have to buy a book! Then our child was given a gift card to a bookstore and I discovered the thrill a child gets when they get to pick a book out to buy. Honestly, I had no idea it would be so exciting for them. Those books are the most loved and most read. I have a sense that if kids could buy their own books from a young age, they would have a higher chance of becoming life long readers. It is wonderful to received gifts but there is something very special about getting to go to a store and pick something out for yourself.
9. The Gift of Romance: Give a date night.
For families with tight budgets and/or without family in town, having a date night is out of the question for two reasons: The cost of going out AND the cost of babysitting. Once we were given a date night with restaurant gift cards AND babysitting. It was amazing!! Having time together is a huge boost for getting through difficult seasons. Couples need time to connect and it helps so much to get a little time away from the everyday routine!
10. The Gift of Going Home: Give a gas card, bus ticket, or plane ticket.
When families are living month to month, there is no extra for holiday travel. The cost of gas can be a problem even if families live in the same city! I am telling you, when you are counting pennies, there is no way you to find enough for a tank of gas to go home for Christmas. If you have ever spent Christmas away from your loved ones, you know how special it would be to give this gift to a family in need.
Above all, give the gift God tells you to give.
Ask God who to give to, and what to give them. The Holy Spirit will show you. And it will be an incredible Faith-building adventure for you and God! I have a friend who walks this out in incredible ways. When she visits us, she stops at the store and asks God what to bring us. Each and every time she has brought exactly what we needed. (Click that sentence to read more about that!) She is a Spirit-led minister of hope and provision and encouragement from the Lord. Encouragement means so much in times of struggle!! This is why the Holy Spirit-led giving ministry of the Body of Christ is so important.
This Christmas, take a moment and consider adding a new tradition of giving to someone not on your normal list! (And if you’re married and/or have kids: Involve the whole family!) Ask the Lord to show you who you could give to. Or ask your church leaders if they know of individuals or families in need.
You can give in person or you can give anonymously. This post contains associate links. No additional costs are added. Amazon delivers pretty much everything these days!! (Click that link to shop now.)
Give your care, give your time, give what the Holy Spirit tells you to give. Lives will be changed. Perhaps especially yours!