The gift exchange can be done in a number of ways.
- “Stealing”: Using Post–its® number the gifts as the women arrive.
- Invite the women to draw numbers from a hat. They select a gift in number sequence. Another way is to ask trivia questions. The first person to answer correctly gets to draw a gift.
- Have the woman open her gift for everyone to see.
- Each woman has the choice to “steal” a gift from one already opened or pick a new one from the table. Gifts can only be “stolen” twice.
- Each time a woman can relate to one of the following statements she exchanges the gift she has with another woman who can also relate. Once a gift has been exchanged twice it stays with that person.
- I have been attending Home League or Women’s Ministries for more than 10 years.
- I have never lived outside of city where the corps is located.
- I have a family member who is a veteran.
- I have more than three children.
- I finished reading a book last month.
- I can name all of the characters on the television show Friends.
- I can remember using a land–line phone with a cord.
- I had more than one cup of coffee today.
- I can name 10 Bible characters.
- I have snuck out of the house.
- I love Jesus.
- I have a Christmas tree up.
- I have finished my Christmas shopping.
- I have played organized sports.
- I am allergic to something.
- I have a pet.
- I can remember the inaugurations of more than three presidents.
- I like making crafts.
- I wouldn’t mind if I got my own gift in this exchange.
Following is a list of the most popular Christmas gifts over the last 100 years. Ask the women if they received any of these gifts as a child and to share any interesting stories associated with them.
- 1910 – Rocking Horse, Fireworks, Nuts
- 1920 – The Radio Flyer, Joy Buzzer, Yo–yo
- 1930 – Red Ryder BB Gun, Sock Monkey, Army Men
- 1940 – Legos, The Magic 8 Ball, Slinky
- 1950 – Barbie, Fisher Price Little People, Mr. Potato Head
- 1960 – Etch–A–Sketch, Easy Bake Oven, G.I. Joe
- 1970 – Rubik’s Cube, Nerf Ball, Star Wars Action Figures
- 1980 – Cabbage Patch Kids, Teddy Ruxpin, Transformers
- 1990 – Tickle Me Elmo, Super Soaker, Furby
- 2000 – Wii, Bratz, Razor Scooter
- 2010 – iPad, Legos, Xbox 360 with Kinect
- Today – LeapPad Ultra, Furby Boom, Teksta Robotic Puppy
Cookie Decorating for Santa
Using plain sugar cookies, frosting and other cookie decorating supplies, invite the women to decorate their ultimate holiday cookie. In connection with this activity talk about being taught that we give gifts at this time of year. We leave Santa cookies because we appreciate all that he is doing for us. This idea can piggy–back on the devotional to show appreciation to God for His gift of Jesus.
The Perfect Gift
I can’t remember very many Christmases from my childhood, but one stands out vividly in my memory. I received everything I wanted—things I didn’t ask for but that my mom knew I would love. Among those items were a Goo Goo Dolls® CD and a new bed–in–a–bag set. After opening my gifts and spending the appropriate amount of time with my family I retreated with my things to my room. I spent the following hours listening to John Rzeznik singing through my CD player while I stripped my bed of its old ragged linens. Carefully, I unzipped the plastic cover holding my new bedding.
The sheets were white with small yellow and blue flowers. This was the first time I had unwrapped new sheets. I can still remember pulling the cardboard from the center. The comforter was reversible. One side was a pale yellow flannel pattern and the other a blue with polka dots. It was beautiful. I chose the yellow side up first. I loved the way the sunlight bounced off the yellow and lit up my bedroom.
Next came the pillows. There were four pillowcases. Four! And they all matched the rest of the bedding. I know this might not sound like much to you, but my linens had been hand–me–downs and mismatched for as long as I could remember. Now, not only did I have regular pillowcases that matched my sheets, I also had shams. I spent the rest of the day lying on my beautiful new bed singing along to the one song I knew from the Dizzy Up the Girl album. It was a great Christmas memory for a young teenager.
In the years following I took really good care of the bed set my mother gave me. I would wash it properly. I made sure I didn’t spill anything on it. And it returned the favor. On really cold mornings I would lie in bed under that cotton comforter eyeballing my closet and choosing my clothes. Then I would leap out of bed and pull the day’s outfit under the covers to that they could warm up. Once they were warm enough from my body heat I would dress under the warmth of the comforter.
Scripture tells us of another gift, a gift far better than matching shams and warm cotton. The gift of Jesus. Most of us know about Jesus. We know about His birth being the reason for our celebration this time of year. But do we treat the gift of Jesus, the gift of an innocent baby sent to redeem us for our sins as we treat the material gifts we exchange with one another? The gift of Jesus is beyond any other gift we receive. It is more than we deserve.
We read in James 1:17, “Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” Perfection is only found in Jesus. 1 John 3:5 tells us of His perfection, “You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.” Jesus is the perfect gift that comes to us from God who loves us so much that He gave us the gift of salvation.
I know that I don’t cherish this gift like I should. There are days when I neglect to see how God is providing for me. There are moments when I could spend more time with Him relishing His love but I squander my time and efforts on things that really don’t matter.
My bedding eventually faded. The sheets wore thin in the spot where I slept and the cotton in the comforter balled up in little pockets. Like all material things, the gift that I loved and cared for became old and less useful.
Today we have exchanged gifts—a fun activity. Many of us will use and love what we received but if the thing to remember is the importance of cherishing the gift of Jesus, which is far greater than any other gift. Jesus won’t get old, worn out or faded. Jesus will always provide for us and comfort us. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8).
Cherish God’s perfect gift to us this season.