Q&A: Questions and Answers
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“Q&A: Questions and Answers,” New Era, Dec. 2003, 16

Questions and Answers

Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

What can I give my family for Christmas that would be more meaningful than something bought at the store?

New Era

  • Christ gave us the ultimate gift—the Atonement. We can give others gifts that testify of Christ and His gift.

  • Giving of yourself, as Christ did, means giving of your time, talents, and love.

  • Just because a gift is expensive doesn’t guarantee it will mean something to the person you give it to.

  • Think about your gift. What would the person really like, need, or want?

  • Service can be a meaningful gift. Offer to help with chores or other tasks.

Imagine this. You’ve just received a present. It’s big. It’s fancy. It’s expensive. The card with it says, “Merry Christmas. I didn’t put any thought into this gift. I didn’t put any effort into it. I had the money, so it wasn’t really a sacrifice. Enjoy.”

Of course, you’ll probably never get a card like that. But you might get a gift like that—something impressive but without real meaning.

How can you make sure the gift you’re giving will mean something to the person receiving it? Whatever the gift, what will make a difference is how much thought you put into the gift, how much of yourself you put into it, or what kind of sacrifice it represents.

For example, a heartfelt poem that you worked on for days or offering a night of free baby-sitting so your parents can spend time together would probably mean more to someone than a gift that took only five minutes to buy, no matter how much it cost.

The American writer-philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “Rings and jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts. The only [true] gift is a portion of thyself” (The Complete Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson [1929], 286).

Christ taught us how to give gifts. It seems like every time you turn the page in the scriptures, there’s another story about the Savior doing things for others or giving of Himself. He gave His time—answering questions. He gave His talents—teaching the people and comforting the sick. He gave His love—serving selflessly. We too can give of ourselves by offering our time, talents, service, and love.

Christ also gave us the greatest gift of all: the possibility of eternal life through His Atonement (see D&C 14:7). We can’t atone for others, but the gifts we give could teach others about Christ’s gift. Here are some suggestions, many of them offered by our readers. Also, see “Gospel Gifts” on page 11 and “Homemade Christmas” on page 34 of this issue.

  • Give a picture of Jesus, along with a scripture verse and your feelings about the Savior.

  • Give “service coupons” offering your help with chores or other tasks.

  • Forgive someone, or ask for someone’s forgiveness.

  • Write an encouraging letter.

  • Give someone a Book of Mormon.

  • Spend your time with someone doing what he or she likes to do.

  • Paint a picture; write a poem; compose a song.

Really thinking about what to give and then giving of yourself often takes more time than just running to the store. So plan ahead. You’ll find that the extra effort will be worth it, and you will be repaid with happiness and the warmth of the Spirit.

President David O. McKay (1873–1970) taught, “The Christmas spirit is the Christ spirit, that makes our hearts glow in brotherly love and friendship and prompts us to kind deeds of service” (Gospel Ideals [1953], 551).

President Thomas S. Monson

“For a few moments, may we set aside the catalogs of Christmas, with their gifts of exotic description. Let’s even turn from the flowers for Mother, the special tie for Father, the cute doll, the train that whistles, the long-awaited bicycle—even the ‘Star Trek’ books and videos—and direct our thoughts to those God-given gifts that endure, [including] the gift of love.”
—President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, “Gifts,” Ensign, May 1993, 60.


Some of the most important gifts don’t come from the store. Some gifts you can give that possess a magic beyond store-bought things are kindness, love, and charity. We pick the name of a family member, then fill little bags with encouraging notes or some service we can do and maybe a piece of candy.
Briana Deaver, 14, Rocklin Fourth Ward, Rocklin California Stake

We have many valuable gifts, but the important gift to give is a copy of the Book of Mormon and a testimony of the truthfulness of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As we greet each other with grateful hearts and sincere souls, it is like we behold the loving face of our Savior.
Phyllishena Faamoe Savelio, 19, Lalovi Ward, Upolu Samoa West Stake

I decided it would be meaningful to make something for my younger brother this Christmas. The answer came to me through the Church magazines. Almost every article includes a sidebar with a quote and picture. Backed with cardboard and wrapping paper, they make great bookmarks. I also covered a box with quotes to keep them in.
Jenny Maynes, 16, Geneva Ward, Naperville Illinois Stake

The gifts I’m planning to give are gifts that I made myself, maybe a poem or a homemade card telling them how much I love them. For me, it’s not the cost that counts—it’s the thought.
Carol T. Vallo, 21, Calasiao Second Branch, Calasiao Philippines District

Just like the Savior does, we can present our neighbor with an inestimable gift—our love. Material things deteriorate with time, but the joy of knowing that someone cares about you has no price nor end.
Luiz Henrique Keng Quieroz Jr., 17, Cariacica Ward, Vitória Brazil Stake

Last Christmas I received a call from my friend. He bore his testimony of the gospel and our Savior. I was so touched that I still remember that. At that instant, I saw that jewelry, clothes, or toys are not the best presents, but the best gift is a testimony that Christ was born among us, that He conquered the chains of death, and that He lives today.
Jephsey Lorena T. Cardenas, 23, Jardim Roberto Ward, São Paulo Brazil Parque Pinheiros Stake

Photograph by Craig Dimond, posed by models