Simplifying Christmas: Giving as the Wise Men Did

Wise Men Star


As families grow larger, buying Christmas gifts for everyone can become increasingly complicated – not to mention expensive! In our home, we’ve found a way to simplify Christmas and keep the story of Christ at the center of it all – including the gifts!

When Janelle and I first got married, a middle-aged woman in the church took us aside and explained the way her family always handled Christmas gifts. “It may not seem like a big deal now,” she told us, “but once you start having kids you’ll be glad you kept it simple!” Now, as a proud father of two, I’m glad she helped us get this thing started on the right foot!

Here’s the key to the whole thing. No matter how many people are in the house that year…


Everyone Gets Three Gifts.


According to Matthew 2:11, the three wise men presented Jesus with three gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. To honor this first Christmas tradition, simply agree that each family member will receive three gifts, too.

Here are the three types of gifts each person receives:


Gold = Something You Need

In ancient times, gold was used as standard currency. If you wanted to buy food or goods in the marketplace and didn’t have anything to trade, then you absolutely needed gold. The wise men provided Jesus with this, which is something the family surely needed. Each year we make sure that each family member gets something that they really do need.


Frankincense = Something to Share

We also call this the “Hospitality Gift.” In the days of Christ, frankincense was a fragrant oil used to anoint the feet of a special guest who you wanted to honor by showing tender hospitality toward. In honor of this, each family member gets a game or something they can share with others.


Myrrh = Something Spiritual

In ancient days, myrrh was commonly used to burn incense at the altar of God. It holds special significance that the wise men offered myrrh to Jesus, literally offering their incense to God as an act of worship. In honor of this ancient tradition, each family member receives something that will help them grow in their spiritual life for the coming year.



This makes each Christmas gift-giving session not only simple, but a meaningful time of family worship. As your family grows, simply write everyone’s name on three pieces of paper labeled “Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh,” and let everyone draw slips to see which gifts they will be responsible for buying that year.

Whether you follow something similar to this or not, my prayer for you is that you will have a simple, Christ-centered Christmas that is filled with peace, relaxation, and sincere worship.



“Where is the newborn King of the Jews? We saw His star as it rose, and we have come to worship Him.”

Matthew 2:2





13 thoughts on “Simplifying Christmas: Giving as the Wise Men Did

  1. We do this too! I have always enjoyed buying for others and what I love about this “system” is that it keeps me on track so that I don’t over-spend or get so caught up in the joy of buying for my kids that I spoil them ridiculously. Of course, I have to admit that this Christmas, with all 7 kids, I have thought that buying three gifts a piece was a little over the top! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really is tempting to spoil those kids! When I was young my parents used to take us to the dollar store to buy gifts for one another… once the kids start buying for each other it’ll help you out a lot!


    1. OH THAT DOG!!! She hit the button on me!!
      NOW, I do give gifts they need or want. But hadn’t really thought about this way of doing things! That would really simplify things for us!! I will be working to implement this in the coming years.
      Thanks for sharing this!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi – this is a great background for Christmas. Could we use it for our background for our Church Christmas 2016 advertising on screens and a Christmas card – all non profit? Many thanks


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