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Behind the gift

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

by Rebecca Parkinson

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


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

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a number of different-sized empty boxes wrapped up in Christmas paper. You might like to have some small gifts for your volunteers (see point 1).
  • Two small coins.
  • The Bible story of the widow’s gift (Luke 21.1–4).


  1. Show the children the presents and ask a few of them to come out to the front to pick 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 – a food treat (in line with the school’s policy), or a bookmark for example, or it could be an ‘I helped with the assembly’ certificate.

    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: they received it from someone special, it was just what they wanted, it was a complete surprise, it cost a lot.
  3. Explain that it is lovely to be given presents and 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 that tells about Jesus watching people arriving at the temple and putting money into the offering box. Read from Luke 21.1–4, or paraphrase.
  5. Stress 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. Jesus commented that she 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 behind them of the giver.
  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, 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 2007   (Vol.9 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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