Let’s just turn down the focus on ourselves, our wants, our must-haves (which really aren’t so must-have when we think about them), and then let’s turn up our love, our prayers, and our care for our families and others. Think of that person who may love to hear from you or receive an unexpected gift and do something for them.

A wonderful friend of our family did something completely unexpected. She became our secret Santa for the 12 Days of Christmas. Every morning, we’d come out onto our front porch and find something to brighten our day. On the final twelfth day, she disclosed who the gift bringer was. Each year, she would be secret Santa to someone—she just let God lead her to the person.

But she also told us a funny story about the challenges of bringing gifts to our home! We’re not early sleepers. Additionally, we had friends over—friends that never left until very late. So she had to keep coming back many times during the night to make sure she could drop off the gifts without being seen. At one point, she was worried a neighbor would think she was a stalker and call the police. She said we were the most challenging of all to whom she had ever been secret Santa. We laughed, and still laugh, so much about this.

Do you find yourself exhausted searching through endless stores trying to find that perfect gift? Trying to figure out what someone really needs or what you’d like to get someone, while watching a tight December budget is a challenge. So if you’re still not sure, do something different—consider gift certificates to local businesses or create redeemable coupons for your own services.

Here are a few suggestions (would love to hear about something you did that turned out to be the best thing ever):

Family owned restaurants
Car wash or detail
Massage
Manicure or pedicure
House cleaners
Health clubs
Cut down on your unnecessary work and spend more time at home with your family
Limit your video game and computer time to help your parents, wife, or kids at home (this goes for teenagers as well as 40+-year-olds!)
Plant a garden for someone
Cook a meal
Grow a garden for food to give away
Partner in prayer for someone to help them through their despair
Mow a lawn
Recycle some of the GOOD things you’re not using
Shovel snow off of a driveway
Go grocery shopping for someone
Build a website for someone
Shop at a thrift shop
Teach a computer lesson
Give a music lessons
Commit to praying for someone
Make a scrapbook
Host a game night
Throw a children’s party
Movie tickets
Help out at your church
Fix a dinner
Baby sit
Pet sit

Don’t forget your local indie bands and musicians need your support. Invite them to play a gig for you or do some free promotion for them.

Also, here is a way that you can actually help make Christmas a more joyous occasion. Instead of focusing on how much money to spend on each other, consider giving your family your undivided attention. Set aside all social media and talk to each other—do things together. Take a walk, play a game, or create events that involve your family and friends…and your pets. One of my favourite memories is taking our Golden Retriever for a walk on a very snowy Christmas day.

Praying that the 2016 Christmas season will be a life-changing and joy-filled one for you!

Photo via Flickr