Thanks to Emily Enders and the folx at Oak Grove Presbyterian for sharing this Great Idea!

Oak Grove Presbyterian has held an annual Alternative Christmas Marketplace with kids baking cinnamon rolls to raise summer camp scholarship funds; adult bakers baking and crafters crafting to provide treats and gifts for members to purchase with the funds raised supporting ministries that otherwise were outside of the Mission Committee’s budget.

Normally, all this activity was held in the social hall. Not so in 2020.

In 2020, organizers opted for mailing home the PC(USA)’s Giving Catalog along with encouragement to purchase gifts that support peoples or causes close to the heart of the giver or the recipient. Similar catalogs come in the form of the ELCA’s Good Gifts, the Heifer Project, or Kiva loans.

[Find additional resources for social action during the Advent/Christmas/Epiphany seasons in our lib guide.]

Embedded in the Giving Catalog is the concept of linking gifts with those of others. That is, some gifts can cost well over $1000 – an ox and plow, for instance. Even if one family can’t afford an ox and plow, they can contribute to their purchase – and their contribution is pooled with others’ until the ox and plow are paid for and sent to their recipient. Ideas for turning this form of linked giving into a family and congregational event are included in the article.

The at-home catalog browsing was such a success, that Oak Grove plans to continue the approach into the future. You can read the whole article here.

Alternatives for both the in-person and catalog approach include supporting local BIPOC- or women-owned businesses, artists, and crafters; supporting shelters, kitchens, or other local organizations who support marginalized or impoverished communities. Other congregations have created an indoor ethnic market – pooling local artisans and sellers representative of the cultural diversity of their surrounding community.

Make your marketplace distinctive, socially just, and diversely cheerful and whether in-person or via catalog, individuals and families will be able to feel good about their Christmas gifting – and make those they support feel good at the same time.