It is no surprise that the U.S. is a consumer-focused society. This is never more evident than during the holidays. Last year, shoppers spent $7.9 billion on Black Friday and $6.59 billion on Cyber Monday. Those sales are happening more and more online. Sixty percent of Black Friday purchases last year were made on Amazon alone.
While consumerism should never be the focus of the holiday season, there are some benefits to online shopping, namely that it gives us more time at home and less time at the mall, less time wrapping and mailing gifts, and less time trying to find a parking spot at Macy’s during December. Chances are if you think back to Christmas five years ago, you are spending less time in actual stores this season than you used to.
What will you do with the extra time?
I encourage you to be intentional with it. This holiday shopping season, don’t use the time you used to spend in the mall planning an extra Christmas party or going overboard on the decorations. Instead, use this time to teach your kids some important lessons about the true spirit of Christmas.
This holiday shopping season, don’t use the time you used to spend in the mall planning an extra Christmas party or going overboard on the decorations.
Pray for the people you buy for.
Buying a gift online and having it shipped directly to the recipient is wonderful and convenient, but it can make the experience less personal than when you go to a store, pick out an item, write a card and send the gift yourself. And it’s more difficult to involve your kids in the process when all of your purchases are being made from your phone or computer.
This season, whenever you send a gift to someone, include your child by having her think about the person you are buying for and saying a prayer for that person. Talk with her about that person’s needs, personality and possible struggles. Let her know that what matters with the gift is the intention, not the price tag. It is never a substitute for love; the gift is simply an expression of it.
This season, whenever you send a gift to someone, include your child by having her think about the person you are buying for and saying a prayer for that person.
Give a “gift” to Jesus.
Christmas is Jesus’ birthday and therefore, gifts should be given to him. This notion may confound adults, but not children.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, ask your kids (even teens) what they can give Jesus this Christmas and see what they come up with. Since they can’t buy him anything, their creative juices will begin to flow.
They could write him a letter of gratitude, perform a random act of kindness for a stranger. Or, they may want to serve a local ministry or outreach program.
Focus more on giving time than spending money.
Use the time you would be shopping in a store to do something intentional as a family or with just you and your child. Block out Black Friday afternoon or a Saturday in December to serve somewhere together as a family. Take your daughter out for a daddy-daughter date, or your son to see that movie he’s been wanting to see. Perhaps spend an afternoon making homemade cookies together as a family and pay a surprise visit to an elderly neighbor to deliver them.
Even though our devices and the internet are threatening to steal our family time, they can actually give us more time together if we use them correctly. Be intentional this season. Use the time you would spend in holiday mall traffic teaching your child the true meaning of Christmas, of giving and of receiving.