Nothing highlights the amount of material blessing we have in North America quite like Christmas. But it can also highlight the amount of excess in our lives. Instead of enjoying the abundance of Jesus in this season, we can sometimes feel like we’re drowning in stuff.  

The sad truth is that some of this “stuff” has a direct exploitative impact on people and the world.

This Christmas, how can we practice consumption habits that don’t exploit people and degrade God’s creation—both of which push people deeper into poverty? Since we’re in full swing with our Gifts of Compassion gift guide, we thought we’d share a few ways you can shop ethically this Christmas, paired with some of our favourite Gifts of Compassion tips!

1. Minimize

First off, who ever said we needed so much stuff at Christmas? The first step to shopping ethically this Christmas is simply to minimize. We create a lot of waste by buying things for ourselves and for others that ultimately won’t be used or treasured long-term. Before you buy, ask yourself, “Is this something this person really wants and will use long-term?”

A plastic decoration with the words "Merry Christmas" sits under a Christmas tree.

Prayerfully consider: Is God calling me to buy less and waste less this Christmas? Although gifts are a beautiful way of communicating our love for others, Jesus once said, “Life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15). How can we communicate our deep love without buying into the North American myth that happiness lies in the abundance of possessions?

Gifts of Compassion tip: When you buy a Gift of Compassion in honour of a loved one, you can choose to download an electronic version of your card to save on postage and paper.

2. Create

Next, get creative with your Christmas gifts! Try your hand at some art, baking, knitting or perhaps some carpentry. In today’s fast-paced world, handmade gifts not only minimize your consumer impact, but they also produce some of the most meaningful gifts!

Gifts of Compassion tip: Get creative with handmade gifts to accompany your Gift of Compassion, such as a DIY succulent or terrarium to accompany the gift of seeds.

3. Experience

Consider the gift of experience. Think through experiences you can share with your loved ones to deepen your relationships and create lasting memories. Try things like seeing a new artist or band, a day at a local attraction or a special meal together. Again, in today’s fast-paced world, the gift of intentional time together is another meaningful way to show your love!

Gifts of Compassion tip: Consider enrolling yourself and a loved one in a fun class to accompany the gift of building a learning centre.

4. Gift

When it really comes down to it, ethical shopping is about our posture. What would it look like for the posture of radical generosity to permeate every aspect of your Christmas celebrations?

Christmas is about celebrating God’s profound generosity to us. As we’ve freely received, Jesus tells us to freely give (Matthew 10:8).

A group of children stand, facing the camera, holding wrapped Christmas gifts.

Could a radically generous celebration be the gift your family gives this Christmas? Open your home and your celebrations to people who might be alone. Volunteer together as a family. Spend your Christmas money on your favourite charities. Give freely and generously.

See, maybe we’re asking the wrong questions about ethical shopping—perhaps instead of striving to cause the least harm, we should be looking for ways to share the most love.

Gifts of Compassion tip: Some of the big-ticket items like building a safe home or a rainwater gathering system might seem overwhelming. But what could happen if you and your family challenged yourselves to be highly generous this Christmas? Rally your family around one big gift to contribute to—and see what incredible Kingdom impact a Christmas gift can have!

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Ready to get some Christmas shopping done? Visit the Gifts of Compassion website today!

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Written by: Alyssa Esparaz

Alyssa brings her passion for youth, justice and Jesus to her role of Writer and Communicator at Compassion Canada, as she works to inspire and equip the Church to live compassionate lifestyles. Her favourite things in the world include her family, basketball, ice cream and riding on airplanes.