Every year around this time, I start making a list. Mostly, because I love to make lists, but also because I like to plan out and budget our Christmas shopping. I’m a big fan of being intentional about what we buy.
This year I’d like to take it a step further and be really intentional about what we’re giving this year, and what those gifts represent and support.
I want to give justly this Christmas.
I don’t think it’s a secret that Christmas is largely over materialized. More, more, more is the mantra that modern Christmas is built on.
The first step in practicing a more just Christmas is to let go of this idea. Less can be more. If I change the things and the ways I purchase and stick to my budget, I’ll have to buy less. But I’ll be giving more.
For me pursuing justice at Christmas doesn’t mean I don’t give anything or purchase anything. The heart of Christmas is about a gift, The Gift. But Jesus wasn’t an ordinary present. He was the ultimate gift of love, freedom, redemption, hope, peace, shalom and justice. He was the ultimate gift of the world becoming a better place.
So when I choose my gifts this Christmas, I want them to support and convey the same sorts of things. For me, practically, this means these things:
- Give LESS. No more crazed pursuit of more. Set limits – both on the number of items and the overall monetary amount. This helps prioritize the best possible gifts and will cut back on the little, unnecessary items (which are nearly always manufactured in a questionable, oppressing, unjust manner). This is the most important rule because without it the other options are not possible for so many of us.
- Give differently. Give gifts of doing, rather than stuff. Time together is a valuable gift; memories don’t break apart in a few weeks.
- Give practically. We do stockings in our house, but they are mostly filled with practical stuff that we need anyway. Socks. Underwear. Snacks. PJs. By gifting some of these things, I am more likely to be willing to spend the extra money it takes to buy things that are made in a socially responsible manner.
- Give in honor. There are so many great gift giving catalogs out there, but I’ll site World Vision’s here. Instead of giving my friends and family items they don’t need, I can give necessary items in their honor to those who need them most.
- Give DIY or handmade. Pinterest makes it easy to find ideas for making some of your own gifts. If you’re like me, you probably couldn’t make most of them, but maybe your friend or neighbor could. Exchange some services or pay a local person to help you. Search for local artisans to support, or peruse Etsy.
- Give Locally. This might require a little more research and a little more money, but when items are locally made and sold, you can be more confident that your purchase is supporting living wages. Gift certificates can support local businesses as well.
- Give Smartly. This last one requires a lot of research, and I’ve been scouring the internet for information on companies that do business in a socially responsible manner.
- Give fair trade products, products that pay producers fair prices in developing countries.
- Give made in the USA (or Canada). This makes it less likely that the item is involved in the continuation of human slavery.
- Research companies before you purchase from them. Find out if they are taking steps to ensure a socially responsible manufacturing. I’ve compiled some lists to help: Children, Men + Women.
If you don’t believe our materialism is a problem, I recommend watching this. Even if you don’t agree with everything she says, I think it’s all time we agree something has to change. Our American pursuit of cheap and plenty is not a justice-seeking endeavor. It is doing harm. To others. To ourselves.