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Gift Giving

Giving and receiving

by Claire Law

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To reflect on giving gifts and receiving them.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (Gift Giving) and the means to display them.
  • Have available the YouTube video ‘Benedict Cumberbatch on how to react to bad Christmas gifts’ and the means to show it during the assembly. It is 6.27 minutes long and is available at: 

    you will need to play the video from 0.10 minutes to 2 minutes. Before this, there is an expletive that has been bleeped out, but is still audible.


  1. Show Slide 1.

    Welcome the students to the assembly.

  2. Show Slide 2.

    Invite the students to raise their hand if they have started their Christmas shopping.

    Ask the students, ‘Has anyone here already sorted out all the gifts that they need to get for Christmas?’

  3. Point out that if we don’t celebrate Christmas, there are other times in the year when we prepare and purchase gifts for loved ones to mark a celebration.

  4. In today’s assembly, we’re going to consider our approaches to giving gifts and receiving them. Let’s kick off with a few questions.

    - Are you someone who prefers to create handmade gifts?
    - Do you like to spend a lot of money on something extravagant?
    - Would you prefer to give tickets for an experience rather than something that a person can keep?
    - What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?

  5. At this time of year, many people consider buying and receiving gifts. Shops and online ads lure us into considering what present we might purchase for loved ones at Christmas. Many of us do Secret Santa gift exchanges with family and friends.

  6. Giving gifts is one of many ways in which we communicate our care, interest, love and connection with others. Gift-giving can be an expression of our thoughtfulness and kindness; we are likely to have invested time, thought, creativity and money into the gift that we give.

  7. Ask the students, ‘When we think about the best present that we’ve ever received, to what extent did the present show us how much someone cared for or loved us?’

    Ask the students, ‘When we consider a gift that we’ve chosen for someone recently, to what extent did we think about what they like, and what their preferences are?’  

    By pondering these questions, we are considering and noticing the other person. The gift becomes a symbol of the thoughtfulness and kindness that has been put into choosing it.

  8. Giving gifts can be good for our health. Research shows that giving gifts can boost our physical wellbeing, with acts of giving - whether that is time, money or care - resulting in increased energy and lower blood pressure.

  9. Show Slide 3.

    The idea that giving gifts benefits the giver too is reflected in Jesus’ words in the Bible: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ (Acts 20.35)

  10. However, although giving and receiving gifts can warm our hearts, it can also cause tensions within people and between them. Exchanging gifts can come with a whole host of expectations. For example, there may be differing views on the appropriate amount to spend. Sometimes, such expectations are communicated openly, such as when a spending limit is set for a Secret Santa. At other times, these expectations can remain unexpressed, which can lead to disappointment.

  11. And what if we receive a gift that we don’t like?

    Ask the students, ‘Has that ever happened to you?’

    Maybe you’ve received some boring socks from an auntie or something that’s designed for much younger children. You’ve probably had experience of receiving a gift and feeling that you need to act grateful, even though you’re disappointed. Likewise, you may have given a gift to someone and realized as they opened it that they didn’t like it. If so, you are not alone!

  12. Let’s watch this short video for some tips from actor Benedict Cumberbatch on how to react well when we get a present that we don’t like.

    Show the YouTube video ‘Benedict Cumberbatch on how to react to bad Christmas gifts’ from 0.10 minutes to 2 minutes.

  13. Finding ways to express gratitude when we receive a gift can help to overcome some of the feelings of disappointment that can be associated with giving and receiving gifts. It can be an act of kindness to find ways to express thanks in the face of disappointment.

  14. Show Slide 4.

    The Bible encourages us to ‘be kind and compassionate to one another’ (Ephesians 4.32). Benedict Cumberbatch’s acting tips give us practical ways to be kind and compassionate, rather than critical and ungrateful.

    In the video, and in our assembly so far, we’ve focused on material gifts, ones that we can see and touch. However, it is important to remember that there are other ways in which we can give to others that don’t involve spending money.

  15. Show Slide 5.

    Perhaps you’ve heard of ‘love languages’, a term that was developed by Gary Chapman in his book, The Five Love Languages. Each love language is a way to gift our kindness and compassion to others. The five languages are:

    - words of affirmation
    - quality time
    - physical touch
    - acts of service
    - receiving gifts

  16. Most people prefer one or two of these ways to show and receive love. If our preferred love language is receiving gifts, we’re likely to feel satisfied with a present that comes wrapped up. In contrast, someone who takes time to help us practically through acts of service, but then neglects to give us a gift on our birthday, might make us feel disappointed. However, if our primary love language is words of affirmation, a handwritten card that expresses care and love may be more meaningful than a gift to unwrap.

    Love languages can get lost in translation; confusion and disappointment can creep in if we don’t speak the same love language as others around us. Being grateful for non-material gifts such as people’s time, practical help or kind words is a way in which we can ‘be kind and compassionate to one another’ (Ephesians 4.32).

Time for reflection

Let’s take a moment to reflect on the idea of gifts: both giving and receiving them.

Let’s take the time to be still and silent, and reflect on the following questions.

- What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? What did it mean to you?

Pause to allow time for thought.

- How do you feel when you give others a gift? Think back to a gift you gave that brought you joy in the giving. What did it mean to you to give that gift to that person?

Pause to allow time for thought.

- Which love language matters most to you? How do you like to give and receive love?

Pause to allow time for thought.

- As you think about giving and receiving gifts, how can doing so be an act of kindness and compassion? Is there anyone you would like to thank for a recent gift?

Remember, not all gifts come wrapped up: some gifts can be an act of service, some quality time, some kind words or a simple hug.

Pause to allow time for thought.

Dear God,
We are surrounded by adverts and messages that encourage us to purchase gifts for others.
Help us to remember that kindness and compassion are an important feature of giving and receiving gifts.
Help us to be kind and compassionate to ourselves and to others, as we consider how we want to express our love to the important people in our lives.
We thank you for giving us the gift of Jesus, who shows us in both word and action what love is.
Help us to feel a sense of gratitude for the gift of our lives.

Publication date: November 2023   (Vol.25 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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