buy nothing christmas '03
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I like your new cartoon [When Christmas Meets Easter], but you might want to stick more closely with the biblical record of the Last Supper, if that's what you're going for. I'm thinking mainly here of depicting a fish as dinner. While Jesus eating fish definitely has support from much of Scripture, he is only actually depicted as eating it himself after the Resurrection. Just a thought from your vegetarian friend. — Nathan Braun

I just want to thank you for this website its summed up all my thinkings of Christmas, i can feel Gods heart powerfully on this celebration and understanding that its all for God. I mean wow this is what God wanst and that exites me to know that i'm in his plan that he's upturning the status quo of society, he did it once then we lost the plot but Gods here to change it back to his way, and wow its going to be amazing. — Dan Robins

Wow! I didn't know there were other people doing this. I have refused to give and recieve christmas gifts since 1997, when I was thirteen years old. Neither do I participate in any kind of christmas celebration.I have a few reasons: I do not belive in god, therefore I think it's hypocrisy to celebrate the birth of Jesus, allthough I'm raised in a christian family. I am a socialist, and I'm against "consumism". Neither do I like the "new religion" that the myth of the "family" is and christmas is the time for celebrating it. What I have noticed is that many people are very offended by my decision. People I hardly know can get totally outraged and tell me the most horrible things. Obviosly many people are threatened by someone that doesn't want to participate in the sacred shopping and who doesn't embrace "family values". I realize that my reasons for a buy nothing christmas is different and may be more radical and controversal than yours, but I still like the campaign. — Ylva Soderfeldt, Sweden

Keep up the great work! You are inspiring people! — Margaret Collins,

I'm surprised the churches did'nt pick this up earlier, in the battle between the admen and churches admen win hands down nationally, sad thing is, even in the local communities the church is not the popular choice in the UK. Never mind at least the scales have fallen from their eyes and joining ranks with groups like yourself will no doubt create new partnerships and learning for the future. Will there be a t-shirt to buy in the UK? if so can you pass on the details. — Denise Rhoden

Although I am a committed Christian and support your sentiments, I have one big probelm with your idea. Right now, our country is facing some tough economical problems. By refusing to aid the economy through buying things (and in turn paying taxes to the government) it seems that you are hurting the country in a time of need. I do agree that it is better to spend your Christmas money on charities or by buying things for those who are less fortunate, but the idea of buying "nothing" seems to do them less good than a monetary contribution to a responsible charity. — Lisa

Rock On!!! After over 2 years on the web I thought my anti-Christmas pages were unique on the web. S it's just great to see someone else doing something about this festival of capitalism and consumer indoctrination. My site is less mainstream, less serious, and somewhat weirder than yours but the anticonsumerist spirit at it's core remains the same. There's a selection of anti-christmas cards but - W-A-R-N-I-N-G - some of you Christian folks will probably find some of these distasteful. I'm not a Christian and culturally I've no doubt we're world's apart. So keep in mind: what's offensive to one person is humour to another. However I've just made some new conservative anti-christmas cards so there's something for everyone (well almost!). Buying nothing is all very well, but if we're to stop this madness we've got to be pro-active and sending an anti-christmas card is one way to start. Check out the cards and other stuff here . — Steve

For a lot of your gift suggestions, you have to buy things. I agree, this is tons better than buying the usual gifts, but there is no mention of making a donation in someone's name. Consider a Habitat for Humanity house building trip or donate to a small organization that deals directly with refugees - like the Small Planet Fund. There are a lot of people doing wonderfully innovative things right now to help people change their lives and pull them out of poverty - how about listing a bunch on your web site and suggesting people send their Christmas funds there? — Diane

While I admire this movement very much, being one for social action myself, I do not think it inherently evil to buy something for someone else. Christmas, founded on the celebration of Christ's birth is meant to remain that way, a celebration. If giving gifts is a means rather than an end in celebrating this holiday, or any holiday, all the better to make it joyous. When giving a gift one should think about the use-value -- if the person can't use it, don't give it. Gifts of money,even for student loans etc, are still "consumeristic" and that is the nature of humankind (to a point). Using money is a consumeristic action. Hence, this leads me to my final point: Your movement is admirable and a step in the right direction, but I think there are still some fundamental holes in your thinking. Recycle, Conserve, Think, and Love. — Shaun

I teach high school in Michigan and am trying to challenge my students to think differently about the Christmas season. Every day they are forced to watch "Channel One" which encourages them to be consumers, and this has provided me the opportunity to talk with them about the commericals they are forced to view. Although I was confused by some of your doctrine Jesus needs our help(?!!), I was encouraged that a Christian group chould actually be so counter-cultural. And perhaps this is sadly ironic. We are called to be Salt and Light, but for some reason, the covetousness and lack of contentment in our hearts is either ignored or held up as a civic virtue. — Rob Olson, Pittsford, Michigan

I am a 21 year old university student, and my parents are missionaries in India. I was planning to have a low-spending christmas this year by making presents myself, doing organic baking, making fair-trade chocolates etc. I was so pleased to find the link to this site through It eases some of my discontentment with a hypocracy-filled religion to see social awareness like this being spread in the name of Jesus. Thank you for the lift in spirits and the great ideas! I plan to make my own incense (lots of internet sites with recipes!), and make soap with raw herbs in it as a scent and design. — Amalia Nickel

This is one of the finest ideas i've come across for christmas. i am not a mennonite, i am a Buddhist and also a Socialist (from the USA, no less). what i found amusing was when i told my brother i wasn't buying anyone gifts for christmas, he called me "Scrooge". i still plan on taking part in the other aspects of christmas, but because i refuse to give in to excessive consumption that somehow makes me 'anti-christmas'. thanks for trying to make christmas into a special day instead of a sea of thoughtless gifts.— j ryan

After being unhappy at Christmas time for as long as I can remember, I have always thought about "dropping out" of the whole materialistic commercialized mess. This year I made up my mind and let family and friends know that I will not be participating in a gift exchange. Though I have two sons 18 and 21 and a wife who is totally wrapped up (sorry!) in the gift giving, I have finally taken a stand. One of the problems with the many distractions we have in our lives is that we do things out of habit even though it is something that is antithetical to who we are. Give yourself permission to celebrate your holiday in a way that you feel is right for you. — Michael O'Brien

I am so glad to find this on the screen! I had been so down about not being able to be with family, and not really being able to buy anyone the sadness of three of my friends and two of their children being evicted from their homes in the past three months. I would find myself giving sarcastic, off the cuff sermonettes on anti-consumerism in stores from time to time... and I thought it was all because of my very bad, and negative frame of mind. Now I find maybe it's not all my fault and perhaps there is something important behind it. So, I hope to go ahead with this "station" on the Web and find out more to do about this whole issue. Thanks an awful lot. (and please pray I will stop picking on the non-thinking (yet) public that don't know enough (yet) to wake up and smell the coffee...about our hurting world. — Sue, Massachusets

I am a Scottish Highland bagpiper. For centuries, pipers have composed tunes to commemorate special events or people close to their heart. I have written tunes in honor of my friends as gifts this Christmas for those dear to me. I believe nothing can honor a friend more than to create a piece of music with that person in mind and to memorialize your love for them in a melody. I wish you all a happy and safe holiday and a successful Buy Nothing Christmas. Be assured that all I come in contact with will know of your mission -- our mission. — Ryan Morrison

I never buy or ask for christmas gifts because, since becoming an adult, i look for the deeper meaning of christmas. i never realised that i was part of a movement, though! actually, my extended family out in charlotte stopped giving presents entirely (formerly we had done a secret santa type thing with exchanging names at random). now, we use that money to assist a less fortunate family. we have discovered the new way to be more agreeable to all than the old way. amazingly, under the old way, there always seemed to be a lot of unpleasantness when someone bought the wrong sort of gift. now, there is a less distracted focus on family comraderrie. anyway, god bless you in your movement (or i should say our movement) and keep up the good work.— leroy mcswain

Just beware of the tragic trend of turning into the self righteous ones you're so against...our family is buying nothing, but not to be part of a trendy trend, it just makes sense. we are putting $$ together to support Canadian Food for the Hungry. There are so many ways to give to local and international needs. If you can do that and still buy Christmas presents, go crazy! — Audrey

This Christmas season I put up "Buy Nothing Day" posters around the city in an attempt to introduce the idea of freedom from consumerism. I also convinced my family that instead of our usual practice of each person giving every other person a Christmas gift, this year we would each draw a name and give a gift to only that person. — Joel Butler, New Brunswick, Canada

I think your posters would make great holiday cards. You should sell them. Ha! — Buck

I will not work nor shop on Sundays... Has anyone attempted to organize christians to avoid shopping/dining out on Sundays? Seems a logical extension of this thread. — Mike

One of my best Christmases was spent eating grilled fish at an open-air cafe in our little town in Belize, where we lived. We were so basic that we shared one home-carved spoon among 3 people, taking turns eating! In Nicaragua, the wealthy doctors make $90/month. The global average daily wage is less than $1/day. Don't we in the US ever have enough? It is obscene to keep hogging global resources. — Kathcart

I found many of your opinions stated on your website interesting and thought provoking. I was however slightly offended by your "Jesus sandals" story, as well as by political statements you make with little or no basis (eg. President & PM) other than to put yourselves in a better light. I feel uncomfortable with the insinuation that others in the Mennonite community would support your online opinions, and as one myself, feel that there is a definate need to seperate your opinions and political activity from the church. If your not trying to be "religious" don't try to be a little bit. Many good discussion issues to act on though! — Dave

I am not completely "buy nothing", but getting closer. For many years I have told people that the greatest gift they can give me for Christmas is to promise me they won't buy me a gift, and to give me permission to not buy them a gift. The majority of the handful of gifts we do buy are experiences we can share together. Your site is inspiring me to find ways of doing those without going on a spending spree either. — Dan Roth

How do we explain this concept to our kids? Not after all the years that she has celebrated Xmas with gifts and giving. I would feel terrible for her not getting anything. She would be devasted. So even though I think its a great idea and worth thinking about....I wouldn't be able to least not until my daughter is old enough to understand and accept it for herself. I will though, pass this website on to others who may be more interested than me at this time. — Tami Froehlich

I have started We Won't Shop, an effort designed to speak with consumer power against an attack on Iraq. At we provide daily updates of the $ amount that Americans have pledged keep out of the retail sector over this holiday season, unless President Bush backs off of his unilateral, preemptive stance. Canadians can pledge to reduce their consumption and write to the top American retailers, as well as President Bush, to let them know why they're cutting back. As of November 26, 178 individuals have pledged to cut retail spending by $118,950 between November 1 and January 31. — Kyeann Sayer

Can't help wondering if we're talking about the same Mennonite sect or some theoretical hoped for evolution of it. The one I'm familiar with is enthralled by the hyper wealthy industrialists, car dealers and real estate tycoons who salve their conscience with appropriate participation in the Mennonite Central Committee and various pc menno based educational institutions. Literally thousands of poor Paraguayans, Mexicans and Filipinos staff their low wage manufacturing megafactories here in Winnipeg. There are some Mennonites (old style in Ontario and Pennsylvania) who buy nothing for Christmas, but to this point they haven't been buying internet service either so you won't likely hear from them. — Jerry Shantz, Winnipeg

I found your site todayin "New Directions." Wow! We're not alone, Christmas has not been like this since I was child. No stress, headaches,or running around LOOKING for that must have gift. The last two years have consisted of a fine meal, with family, going over the events of the year and remembering lost loved ones. — Robert E. Harding

Jews, secular and religious, (especially secular) around the globe have been caught up in the christmas rush. Even though chanukah has a part of the holiday where one exchanges gifts (8 actually), it has been blown out of proportion. It must be stopped to save our planet and out minds. Please help us all in the same way you help many. — Adam Popper, Halifax/Toronto

I "boycotted" Christmas last year by not really purchasing any gifts for people, and have already told my parents that I don't want gifts for Christmas, but instead if they want to give me money to send payment toward my student loans. I have already decided that my gifts for friends and family will be photographs that I print myself in a darkroom, and then I will purchase a nice frame for it and give that to them. Also, making gift cards yourself is a great alternative. Also, I just want to point out that I myself am not religious but was raised as a Christian. I find your website to be very open and welcoming to all people. After all, consumerism isn't just for Christians anymore. — Judith Magloczki, Madison, Wisconsin

My mother became quite sick a few years ago and passed away earlier this year. We had to sort through an accumulated 50-years worth of possessions. It was necessary for us to work together to glean out those things that had some meaning to us. Many of the items she bought were in the past ten years and included gadgets and appliances she never used, as well as knickknack and collector items that no one wanted. We all walked away from this experience with an overwhelming feeling of loss and depression. All of this money spent on material possessions, often amassed, not used, and sitting around collecting dust was so pointless. Our time was spent throwing out much of it, or cleaning, selling and giving it away to, hopefully, a more productive life.— Karen Cagle

You would have to be very crafty and have lots of time on your hands to do your alternatives. — loving patron

It is all well and good what your saying but i have one point to tell you. THE KIDS WONT LIKE IT. Sorry but that is the plain truth. — nonyrb usynes

Christmas is a time when we are supposed to be worshipping God for sending us his son and allowing us to live with him for eternity. Instead Christmas in America has turned into a time where we worship the idol of consumerism. We waste money on things that we don't need and sometimes don't even want. I am really glad to hear that God has spoken the same message to other Christians. — Jeremy Ellsworth

I am so happy to find your site. It is refreshing. I am a Christian and a socialist who believes in communal living as a model of our faith. Love and community are the two greatest gifts we can give to one another. My wife and I give coupon books as a way to share our love at Christmas. Sometimes our family doesn't take them seriously though. They must think this is the best that the "poor" family members can do. I haven't ever stopped to explain to them our reasoning for not giving them expensive gifts. We just choose to live a different lifestyle, and try to be as self sufficient as possible. — Curtis Dean

I've read through many of the articles on this web page and I'll have to say is that it makes absolutely no sense to have this campaign. One of your main concerns is poverty in the US, THE major capitalist nation, and not buying something makes no sense to stop poverty. For one thing if you know anything about basic economics, is that if you buy more stuff they'll be a larger demand for jobs and these poor people might actually be able to work themselves out of poverty. I do understand the other major point of your campaign about making Christmas more meaningful and I do agree with that end of it. If you really want to damage our economy more and finish the jobs the terrorist did with Sept. 11th then by all means no one should buy anything this Christmas. I'm so angry after reading all the articles on this website that I can barely think straight. Thanks for trying to ruin the economy I live in. — Adam [Eds. response: We don't want to ruin the economy, we want to rebuild it into one that affords less concentration of wealth, offers more meaningful work, and is based not on infinite consumption but on maintaining the health of the planet, our prime source of capital. -ASE]

I felt so free when I said this year I don't want any presents at all. It really shocked people, but Christmas is so fake, the colours and Santa that bring "fake hope." I want to go back to the root of Christmas, Celebrating Jesus's birth, Gods kindness and love. It's so freeing to come closer to God and further from things that are stopping me to get to know God better (like presents and the jealousy and disappointment that so often comes with them). — Dan

Hey great idea, and its about damn time we Mennonites stood up for more political and social issues. You can expect me to be campaigning my campus this Christmas. — Mike Kaethler

I notice nearly all your comments are from Canada (maybe a few from the US), but I found you via a link on a British weblog. It would be wonderful to see more people our side of the pond responding to something like this! thank you for the marvellous alternative ideas and resources sections too :) — AliceCrawford, United Kingdom

Just wondering what the most environmentaly friendly way of plastering these posters around my town would be, i.e. adhesive and paper type? If people see the posters they will check out the website. Great work keep it up. — Curtis Barber [Eds. response: Try recycling used paper from the office, and using a flour/water paste or thumb tacks. Any other ideas? send them in.-ASE]

Check out for some superb and fun ideas. How about buying a goat? A share of a camel? A well or vitamins for families and communities in the 2/3rds world. — Ian Newman

One amazing gift idea, which I read about in Richard Foster's book about the spiritual discipline, is to give someone something of yours that they said they liked. You should see the look on someone's face when they receive this gift, because it is so unexpected in our ownership-focused culture. What a great site, keep up the good work. I have forwarded it to everyone I know. — Claire Cummings

Is there going to be anything going on in Seattle for Buy Nothing Christmas? If so, where? — Big Ben

Instead of buying gifts for people . . . give the money to a specific charity in honor of that person. Samaritan's purse has an amazing Christmas catalog that you can go through...and put money towards things like baby chickens for kids in guatemala, soccer balls and such for kids in africa, money to help start a church in honduras, food for orphans in romania and many more! Also, CSI (Christian Solidarity International) is a an amazing program that helps free slaves in the Sudan! Thank you so much for being Christian and active in such important endeavors....check out Buy Nothing Day that is coming up on Nov. 29 ...started by Adbusters. — Austin Petito

Good project. Good web site. Carry on. — Dan Nighswander

Just thought that you'd like to know that I found your site via the Adbusters site. Your ideas are being discussed at Hillbrook Anglican School in Brisbane, Australia! (It's something I've been thinking about for a number of years, but it's great to see your wonderful posters and so forth). — Sharon Hillcoat, Geography Co-ordinator

Here's an idea: Send a list of charities to your family and friends, and ask them to donate money to them instead of buying you a gift. If they really want to send you something, ask for a reciept from the charity they donated to and have them send it to you in a box =). — Taylor

Your website has given us the motivation to do something. We are definitely going to participate in Buy Nothing Christmas. My husband and I grew up in a community of Mennonites in rural Kansas. What an eye opening! I read your description of what a Mennonite is to my husband and we both said "No way!" :') — Alisa Stucky, Kansas

I fix computers as a job and do basic electronics repair as a hobby. I can tell you from personal experience these things are poorly made. — Anonymous, "my_can_o_spam"

You can make AOL CDs into very pretty decorations. Place them shiny side up on a sheet of aluminum foil , then place them under the grill for 30 seconds. Remove and place them on a flat surface till they are cool. — Katie

This year, my first full year on my own, is an official Buy Nothing Christmas. Most of my family and friends have taken this well. A few say they are "insulted" (!?) but it doesn't matter. My morals have grown up and I can't sit on this waterballoon of overconsumption anymore. — Heather Barnes, Burnaby, British Columbia

I really just wanted to say thanks for the ideas, I truely appreciate it and I'm officially on the bandwagon. — Vee

I got the following information from Sojourners ( , thought they fit well with your website: Weary of seeing so much money wasted on commercialism during the Christmas season? Send your loved ones an exemption card...e-cards available at: — Sophie Tiessen-Eigbike, Cloverdale, British Columbia

As a Fashion student living in London, I find it is be the easiest thing to be utterly consumed by yourself and consumed by consumption itself, I would like to break this and am intrigued by the idea of Buy Nothing Christmas. — Lindsay Wilson

One of my favorite holiday gifts was from a cousin who would buy homemade candy from Mennonite communities in the Midwest U.S. Not exactly "buying nothing," but the proceeds did go to help support the community, not to large corporations - and the candies were always a special taste treat. — S. Housewright, Los Angeles, California

I tried this last year, and my sister hasn't spoken to me since. Apparently gifts to international charities don't cut it with her, no matter how carefully explained. I'll see if there's interest in my church though. — Donna Stewart

More ideas: Write poems that explain how you feel about a person. You can bind pages together and make journals for writers and artists. Make hacky sacks for your friends. Or compose a song that goes out to your family. — Denise

Bird balls and thoughtful knick-knacks are fine, but why not GIVE THE MONEY YOU WOULD HAVE SPENT TO CHARITY INSTEAD? Don't you think that's a better expression of "Christian" teaching than bird balls ? — Kevin Ryan

I go through these urges that I need a new bike with shocks and a light frame. But, to quote friend of mine, "When you get an urge to buy something, exploit what you have." Instead of spending over a thousand dollars on a new one, I'm going to let the urge pass, and give my current bike an overall. Maybe I'll even wash it. — Aron Enns, Abbotsford, British Columbia

I perused your website and sent your "Why Buy Nothing?" essay to a few friends. I think you are doing a helpful thing here that promotes real American values; ironic that they run directly contrary to Bush's idea of "support" at home. After being turned onto Adbusters magazine, I am now working on integrating social commentary into the performances of the band I play in in Boston called "The Bay State Love Machine." I've put together a couple of one-act things that deal with hyperconsumerism. — Adam Friedman

Christmas is dying and being replaced by a holiday that promotes only one interest: that of the corporate economy. Last year, to counter the Corporate Xma$ and urge shoppers to forget consumer consumption for a couple days, myself and several friends, disguised as young holiday shoppers, took to Robson st. in Downtown Vancouver on Dec 23rd. From a Vancouver radical cheerleading group, we learned some anti-corporate songs and cheers to perform to holiday shoppers inside stores that would never dare to expose the true consequences of the corporate consumer culture. Some of our pieces included "L A B E L", "The Starbucks Monopoly", "Rudolph the Cambobian Slave", "God rest ye wasted, gentle Earth", "Sweatshops have got to stop", "It's time to sell" and "Beauty". Through artistic expression, we reached out to many consumers and provoked some very emotional responses. What better way to subvert Corporate Xma$ than to sing about the exploitation of workers and the environment, the corporate global economy, the corporate consumer culture and the commodification of beauty in the very locations that perpetuate these things by selling them to first-world consumers? — Cam Dean, Vancouver, British Columbia

What about not having a Christmas dinner either. Just do a normal everyday dinner. And donate that money to Union Gospel Mission for their dinner. It might make a negative impact on the Diet Industry. Better for our health. Nobody would overconsume sweets. — Monica Carter

This year, inspired by Buy Nothing Christmas, my nuclear family is looking at new traditions. We couldn't completely forsake gift-giving, but we're doing some things differently. We drew names, rather than everyone exchanging gifts, and are encouraging gifts that are fairly traded, or non-material, like theater tickets. We will also make a family donation to a local income-generation initiative. Perhaps this falls short of the pure philosophy of a buy-nothing Christmas. However, trusting in the mercy and charity that lie at the heart of this movement, I humbly submit this as the testimonial of a fallen family, but a family groping toward redemption nonetheless. — Daniel Rempel, Winnipeg, Manitoba

What you are doing is awesome! It's about bloody time some Christians have put social awareness into affect... i am a big fan of Adbusters, and i find many ideas and principles that Adbusters supports is many that the church should as well, but we're not. So good job! Keep it up. Simplicity as a theology and a way of life brings satisfaction. Nils, Winnipeg, Manitoba

I am an atheist, but I love your group. I always hate it when people blame my reluctance to participate in Christmas gift-exchange solely on my religous views. I am unable to comprehend the a religious person who flocks to the mall seeking sales. I understand buying clothes for your children, but it does not need to be a gift. Do something good for your family, allow them to love you and not your money. Materialism is destroying America (and Canada too, eh?). Thanks for providing education to the masses.Robert Gillespie

A friend of mine just told me to listen to joel's tune and an hour later i've heard it 5 times and read every word on the a bit of an activist myself, in some ways...currently knee deep in trade justice stuff (WTO AoA). anyway, i'm writing because the Spirit of God has really resonated some truths from the heart of the text, "why buy nothing" inside of me...and i had one of those sacred moments...and while those things are difficult to articulate, i feel like its ok to share that it happened. thanks.A.S., Canada

I want to thank you for putting this together. My partner and I have been moving more and more towards a "Buy Nothing Holiday Season" for the past three years, when we both joined AmeriCorps and learned to live on a very "modest" income. This year, we are both in college full time. We have neither the time, energy, or money to worry about how to have the "perfect" holiday. We talked with some of our friends, and have agreed to exchange "non-bought" gifts, mostly coupons to spend time with each other to do a favorite activity. That wasn't too hard. However, I have friends who do have money, and buy us somewhat expensive gifts. That makes me feel guilty when I give them a tin of cookies. Your well thought out ideas on how to explain why I want to celebrate the holidays this way is giving me the courage to address this issue with them. I've thought about these ideas in the past, but had not articulated them fully, even to myself. Not having money was a good reason to turn away from commercial holidays. These ideas will continue to help me have a rich holiday season without caving in to consumerism, long after I am more affluent monetarily. thank you.Gwendolyn Shae

I love these ideas and this site! One concern I have is that we don't want to be too strong in our stance and turn other people off. I know some Christians boycott Halloween, and that sends an judgemental message. I don't sense that here though.Laura Ogle

When I was a diagnostician with children, I asked one lad what he wanted as a reward for reading to his mother for fifteen minutes each night. His reply was that he really wanted her to "just be with him to chat a bit." This insight made me realize that we could drastically change our gift giving. On the next "gift" occasion John gave me a coupon book to be redeemed before the year was up. Imagine the delight when I looked at the colourful drawings and wee "ads" for everything from a foot massage (when asked), to making me a cup of hot drink on request. Going for a leisurely walk when desired was also very special, or looking at photos of places we had visited. So if people want high quality time on request, a coupon book with desirable sharing experiences is our wee contribution to your Christmas tree of less commercial goodies. — Sally and John Guggenheimer, Abbotsford, British Columbia

Our extended family used to exchange names for Christmas. We'd make wish lists for each other to try to cut down on the drudgery of shopping. A few years ago someone got the idea of collecting money for needy families instead of shopping for each other. Usually we give the money to someone that one of our family's knows or has some connection to. This way of sharing Christmas cheer is much more satisfactory than spending money on each other. The tearful "thank yous" that we have received are better than the "I wonder if I spent as much money as my sister-n-law?" concerns that we used to experience. The generosity is probably exceeded as well.— Bev Short and Reimar Goetzke, Fort Langley, British Columbia

Last year at Christmas, we put together MCC School Kits with my husband's extended family instead of exchanging gifts. Each family unit was responsible for purchasing items that went into the kit. For example, my husband and I bought all of the notebooks. When the family all gathered together at Christmas, each person held a bag and the children circled the room dropping items into each bag. The children enjoyed this activity and responsibility, and it provided a meaningful, gift-giving ritual for the family. — Tracy Wideman, Langley, British Columbia

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