I love giving gifts for Christmas. To my family and friends, to Toys for Tots and the Salvation Army, people at work, etc... Sometimes, I can spend a lot of money doing this, so it is important to keep in mind that Christmas is not all about the gifts. It is partly about gifts. First, Jesus became incarnate, which was the greatest gift. Secondly, we are called to give to others, especially those less fortunate. (in the Orthodox Church, almsgiving is a large part of our observance of Advent). That being said, it is important to think about the gifts that we give.
With Nathan's family, we have decided to try and spend no more than $20 a person on our gifts. Often, this has made us either find deals or make homemade gifts. We have to tell the story of how we got our gift too, when the gift is opened. This should be a lot of fun!
Here is a great article by Frederica Matthewes-Green, where she reviews a documentary on one man's crusade to stop all of the consumerism in Christmas. (But not to stop giving alogether). His group is called the "Stop Shoppers."
Here are some excerpts if you do not want to read everything:
"The Stop Shoppers readily admit that changing our lives is complicated, and when asked to suggest alternatives the tough “political” stance (blessedly) vanishes. They agree that it’s not feasible to literally “stop shopping.” They say they’re asking people to think about their shopping habits and make some different choices: a choir member says, “Explore the options, that’s all we ask.” Rev. Billy admits, “We’re trying to slow down our own shopping,” and there’s a funny scene where choir members, browsing in a truck stop while the buses refuel, are tempted to buy cheap souvenirs of the trip. "
"Rev. Billy does have some concrete suggestions: he recommends that at Christmas we “Spend half as much, give twice as much” by making gifts of time and attention, or of something homemade. “We will take the real life that we have within us, that originality that we’ve got, that has nothing to do with products!”