Taming the Present Obsession: The Christkindl Tradition

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Last year we got tired of the obsession with presents the kids developed every November and December. Moving our family gift giving to Epiphany helped quite a bit, but there was still an unhealthy preoccupation with getting more STUFF and focusing on that and that alone, much to the detriment of all the rich traditions that accompany the seasons of Advent & Christmastide. My husband wanted to quit giving presents altogether!

Before resorting to that, though, we decided to try something different...

Taking a page from Maria von Trapp (affiliate link), we put everyone's names in a bowl and each child drew the name of his or her "Christkindl," the person for whom we each now make an extra effort to do kind things and small acts of service in secret. In our home, this generally means the beds are actually made, for once, though never by the children to whom the beds belong. Shoes are sneakily put away promptly, but not by their owners. Chores are done in secret, but not by the child to whom they were assigned... And for every kind deed, they may add a straw to Baby Jesus' manger, softening His bed in preparation for His arrival, since every act of service is an act of serving Him.

Now each child becomes less focused on himself, and more focused on what he can do to serve his Christkindl. He is given a small amount of money to spend on a gift for his Christkindl, which is exchanged on Christmas Eve with great excitement! They're excited about what they will receive, certainly, but *far* more excited to give their Christkindl the gift they have picked out. Sibling rivalries are greatly lessened and, as von Trapp says, "creates much of the true Christmas spirit and ought to be spread far and wide." (Around the Year with the von Trapp Family)

May I recommend you adopt this tradition in your family if you haven't already? We chose our Christkindls on St. Andrew's Day this year, right before Advent began, and the children talked about it for weeks beforehand!

Within a few hours of choosing their Christkindls, the manger was well in its way to providing a soft bed for the Christ Child, and attitudes were better all around. Now to keep the momentum up!

Edit: we also read this book every year before picking, but it can be hard to find in print version... You can find it on Kindle as well, or search for used copies in the off season!


  1. It worked so well last year, hopefully we can keep the momentum up this year!

  2. This is a wonderful idea, thank you so much for sharing! A blessed Advent and "Christkindl season" to all of you.


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