Spend Less, Give More – Living The Advent Conspiracy

My friend Kristi begins listening to Christmas music on October 15. When the clock strikes midnight, she has the First Song carefully chosen and ready to play. Listening to winter tunes before the Halloween candy is consumed is way too early for me.

Look at her all bundled up!
While I won’t be singing Jingle Bells until after Thanksgiving, I will admit I’m already thinking about the Christmas season. Not so much about what gifts to give to my loved ones as much as how we as a family can make a difference during this destined time of “good cheer”.
As my siblings and I reached adulthood my extended family made the decision to stop  buying gifts for each other and instead, pool our money for a charity. We decided to adopt a family and provide a Christmas meal and gifts for neighbors who were struggling that year. 
When the church we attended introduced The Advent Conspiracy, we were all in. The Advent Conspiracy encourages others to step away from the materialism of giving gifts for the sake of giving stuff and to spend the Christmas holiday with a focus on relationships by “Worshiping Fully, Spending Less, Giving More, and Loving All.” 
Worshiping fully and loving all is pretty self explanatory. But spending less and giving more? How is that possible?
For our family of four, it means giving gifts of time or special meaning. Last year, Emma put together CD mixes and Annika made homemade lip balm. We’ve given the girls lessons and special event tickets. Edd and I don’t exchange gifts. (Although, oddly our stockings get filled every year. Huh.)
The fact is, I enjoy giving gifts way more when I’m spending less or making a difference in my shopping than I would if I were buying stuff in the dollar bin at Target just to have more stuff to wrap.

Here is an idea of what might be under our tree this year: (Emma and Annika: you can stop reading here.)

Mom’s Mittens: With every pair of mittens made from old sweaters they sell, they give a pair to a child in need.
TOMS: One for One. Every product you purchase another goes to a child in need
SERRV: Fair Trade products crafted and sold by artisans and farmers. (I shop from them year round.)
Introducing Evangelical Ecotheology: Foundations in Scripture, Theology, History, and Praxis, by Dan Brunner, Jennifer Butler, and A.J. Swoboda: This book was co-authored by a friend and I think we would all be better off knowing why and how to care for our earth.
Zoo Membership: Every year, my parents get the grandkids a year pass to our beloved Oregon Zoo and the membership fees go toward their non-profit needs.
***As my 12 year old is sitting here reading over my shoulder, she would like me to include the following:

It’s legit. I looked it up. And every time you buy one, you support providing clean water to school children in developing countries. Wow. What I can learn from my pre-teen. 
Ideas for more “stuff-less” giving:
Wrapping gifts for our “adopted family”

Ideas to Help Others:
Call local churches to find out if they know families needing to be “adopted” for the holidays.

How does your family share holiday gifts?
What is the most meaningful gift you’ve ever received?

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