Many years ago, I read an article in a Christian parenting magazine about giving children just three gifts each: a gold, frankincense, and a myrrh gift to imitate the gifts that the baby Jesus received from the wise men. With the time and money required to purchase and wrap multiple gifts for each of my six children, I embraced the idea wholeheartedly!
Our tradition is to open these three gifts on Christmas Eve after church. We exchange the same three gifts for the adults as well, while explaining the significance of the gifts for the newborn Savior. I have had fun wrapping the gifts in corresponding papers (gold, white, and normally a deep purple).
If you share our tradition or you’d like to start it, I have some gift ideas to share with you for each type of gift.
The gold given to the baby Jesus was used to provide for him while He and His parents were in Egypt.
This is usually the easiest category to buy for. This is either the most valuable or most desired gift. If your child has expressed a desire for something, this will be his gold gift. Or you can choose the most valuable (or if your child is young, the largest) gift you plan to give and it will be her gold gift.
If you have no idea where to start, I recommend looking at my list of the 60 Best Christmas Gifts for Kids. These are gifts that my children used and loved the most over 16 years of Christmases. I recommend choosing one of these gifts if you aren’t sure what to buy over the “hot” toys of the season. Most of theses popular toys I’ve purchased have ended up being recycled quickly.
And don’t forget money! My daughter wants money so she can buy her brother’s iPod. Gift cards are an option for gold gifts that teens may appreciate. You may even want to buy stock for children and let them watch how their money (hopefully) grows in value. Investopedia has great advice for giving kids financial gifts. This year, most of my children want an experience gold gift. They are excited about having ski passes for the winter.
Frankincense was used in the temple to impart a fragrant offering to the Lord.
Frankincense gifts have to do with our relationship with God. When the kids were younger, I found every type of Bible toy, video, and game at ChristianBook.com.
For example, I bought this Full Armor of God play set for my two older boys and it lasted through tons of playtime for all the children.
Of course, Bibles and devotionals have been another popular choice for frankincense gifts. I love that you can find Bibles by age and can read reviews of them at ChristianBook.com.
But you can only buy your kids so many Bibles! Other gift ideas are jewelry (for both boys and girls), book lights with Scriptures on them, and Christian t-shirts. Of course, you can find these at ChristianBook.com as well.
One of the more meaningful frankincense gifts I’ve given the children is a gift in their names to other needy children. You can print a picture of the gift given in their honor and wrap it and then discuss what it will mean to the children who receive the gifts. The World Vision catalog is a great option for this.
I have one other idea for frankincense gifts that I haven’t used yet and that is a gift that will enable our children to use their gifts or talents for the glory of God. For example, my son plays guitar for our church, so I have a guitar gift idea for him. Children don’t have to be using their gift at church in order for you to give them a frankincense present that relates to their talent. But it would be a great opportunity to discuss how we invest the talents God has given us.
Myrrh was used for purification of the body (as described in the book of Esther) and for preparation for burial.
Myrrh gifts are gifts for the body. I bought a lot of bath soap for this gift category. When the kids were younger, I included a lot of bath toys, too. Body sprays, lotions, and nail kits also make great gifts for teens. Walmart and Bath & Body Works are my favorite stores for getting deals on these gifts.
But I grew weary of taking the myrrh gift so literally. I began to expand it to include anything to care for the body. The broadest category to expand to is clothing. I had a lot of fun a couple of years buying the kids matching sports team outfits.
Teens usually like clothing, especially if there’s a receipt. A clothing gift card will work if you’re worried. Fun pajamas can be a great gift for younger kids. I loved buying pajamas that did double duty as costumes from Disney. Another clothing idea that was a hit was buying (from the store or a seamstress) matching outfits for my daughter’s My Twinn doll.
Winter is the time of year we redecorate, so when we’ve redecorated the kids’ rooms, their bedding has been their gift. We have also given the kids personalized towels and blankets as gifts.
I have a new idea for the kids’ myrrh gifts this year and that is anything having to do with exercise. A nice water bottle, exercise equipment or DVDs, or a new sports bag would make a great myrrh gift. A Zamzee (a fitness monitor that you can link to rewards) would make a fun myrrh gift as well.
Now over to you. What do you give as gold, frankincense, and myrrh gifts? Let me know in the comments.