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What Is Behind the Gift?

The attitude behind the gift

by Rebecca Parkinson (revised, originally published in 2007)

Suitable for Key Stage 2


To demonstrate that it is the spirit behind a gift that matters, not its value.

Preparation and materials

  • Have available several empty boxes of different sizes wrapped up in Christmas paper, and two pennies.

  • You will need to be familiar with the Bible story of the widow’s gift found in Luke 21.1–4. It can be retold or read from the Bible.


  1. Show the children the boxes wrapped up in Christmas paper, and then ask a few of them to come to the front to choose one.

    Usually, the first child will pick the largest, most exciting-looking present and so on. Explain that these presents are just empty boxes, so there’s no point unwrapping them – how disappointing is that? You may like to have something small to give the children instead – perhaps a food treat in line with the school’s policy.

    Ask the children if they have ever received a present that stands out in their memories as the most exciting one they have ever been given. Ask a few children to tell you about them.

  2. Ask the children what they think makes a present special. They may come up with answers like receiving it from someone special, it being just what they wanted, it being a complete surprise or even it costing a lot.

  3. Explain that it is lovely to be given presents. Some people spend a lot of money on us, which is very generous of them. However, what really matters when we receive a gift is not how big or expensive it is, but the fact that someone thought enough of us to want to give us a present.

  4. In the Bible, there is a story about Jesus watching people arriving at the temple and putting money into the offering box.

    Read the passage from Luke 21.1–4, or paraphrase it.

  5. Emphasize that Jesus saw many people putting lots of money into the box, but what he noticed most was a poor woman who gave just two tiny coins.

    Show the children the two pennies.

    Jesus commented that the woman had given more than anyone else; she had given a huge part of what she owned because of her love for God. This story shows us that it is not how big or expensive presents are that is important, but the love and thought of the giver behind them.

  6. Optional: If you can, share a story of your own about something that is of little monetary value, but is special because of the person who gave you that gift or the amount of thought behind it.

Time for reflection

It will soon be Christmas and many of us are hoping for particular presents and treats. Let’s pause for a moment to think about how we can give to those we care for this Christmas. Remember that we can give in many ways, other than buying presents. We can give our time, our help and our love.

Dear God,
Thank you for this exciting time of Christmas.
In all the busyness and excitement, help us all to be givers, not just receivers.
Help us to think of others before ourselves.


‘Give me oil in my lamp’ (Come and Praise, 43)

Publication date: December 2017   (Vol.19 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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