By: Greg Deckerd

Not surprised? Good. That means you have planned for, shopped for and purchased all of your gifts this season already! Hooray for you! No? Also, good. We can take a minute before you do all of that to figure out what good stewardship during the holiday season looks like.

Many of you have probably heard of the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), where Jesus gives us some examples of both good and bad stewardship. At the end of this story, after the servant had used what little the master gave him to become even more prosperous, his master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21) God has called us, too, to be wise stewards of the blessings He has given us, just like the servant in this parable. He is pleased when we are faithful with our resources, no matter how few or how many.

Even though it can get a little tricky, this good stewardship must extend into – or even start during – the Christmas season. Here are a few quick tips to ensure you experience all the joy of being a generous gift-giver and none of the regret of receiving unwanted gifts later (i.e., that overstuffed envelope that looks like it could be junk mail but it’s actually a hefty new credit card statement…):

  1. NAMES. List EVERYONE you want to buy a gift for – friends, family, co-workers, etc. Now’s a great time to practice overflowing generosity. Search your heart. Generosity begins when our “serve me” mindset moves to a servant mindset. Our self-centeredness moves to other-mindedness. Who would you like to shower with blessing this Christmas season?
  1. Figure out what you CAN spend on Christmas this year. Credit card balance aside, how much expendable income can you have over the next few months to use toward Christmas? Consider your typical spending habits and question what you can scale back on for a few months then divert that savings to Christmas. What are you willing to sacrifice to be generous to another this year?
  1. Examine what “Christmas spending” means. Naturally, when we think Christmas, we’re thinking gifts, but it also can be decorations, dinners, travel, a new outfit, or a special Christmas offering. Itemize your expected Christmas related expenditures. Then take the amount from Tip #2 and start dividing it up amongst these various line items.
  1. Allocate and get CREATIVE. Revisit your list from #1. Write a specific dollar amount next to each name (IMPORTANT: “Swipe” is not a dollar amount). If you don’t have enough to cover everyone, start brainstorming ways to give in meaningful ways that don’t necessarily require money. Could it be easier to draw name(s) instead of attempting to buy for every family member? Could you prepare a baked good or a homemade craft instead? Could you bless someone by offering of your time to help them move, give them a ride, watch their kids so they can go Christmas shopping? Could you add a 2nd job for a few months to increase your disposable income for the season?

No one is lacking for ways to spend money this holiday season. In fact, a Gallup poll showed that last year, Americans planned to spend an average of $908 on Christmas! WOW! So let’s do it the right way: with all of the joy and none of the regret. Start your Christmas budget today and while you’re at it, don’t forget to keep in mind the reason we celebrate to begin with.