A few years ago, I attended Donald Miller’s Storyline Conference. The premise – we are important characters in an epic story and our lives should reflect that.

One point that stuck out to me was when Don said, “Nobody goes to the movies to watch a film about a guy pining over a Volvo only to end with him driving a new one off the lot. Yet that’s life for many.”

I agree.

Similarly, nobody wants to watch a movie where a couple shops to buy presents for their kids only to end with a scene of those kids surrounded by piles and piles of shredded gift wrap. And yet, that’s Christmas for so many people.

At the end of the conference I was given the opportunity to take an envelope. Each one had a $5, $10 or $20 bill and instructions to use the money to change a story. My envelope had $5.

How to give generously with only $5

The money could be given away or invested in any number of creative ways to be grown and then given.

I thought it was a wonderful idea and suddenly, it hit me, “What if we did that for Christmas?”

I brought the idea up to my pastor, a great man eager to do things that make people think and act more intentionally. He loved it and quickly shared it with other pastors. Soon, it was a community-wide effort, with several churches participating in the Change Christmas campaign.

It was a huge success and those involved shared story after story of building and strengthening relationships with this new mindset. As you can imagine, I was blown away by the results and deeply honored to be a part of it.

Could you do the same?

It doesn’t have to be community-wide, church-wide, or even family-wide. It could just start with you and the desire to give more intentionally at Christmas. To make the focus not on presents, but presence.

What if you set a limit for gifts? A small one that made you think, stretch and embrace creativity?

How to give generously with only $5

Could you give generously with only $5?

This, of course, is the question that pops up the most. How is it possible to create so much change with such a small amount of money?

The possibilities are endless, really, but I thought I’d share a few with you so you can see just how simple it is to make a big impact with a small budget.

1. Teach

Do you have a skill you could teach someone? Let’s say you make amazing jam (can we be friends?). You could use the money to buy ingredients for a small batch and then spend the afternoon teaching someone you love. And then gift them the jam.

2. Serve

Maybe you like to work in the yard. That $5 could be used to buy a pair of gloves to stay at a friend or family member’s house where you offer to pull weeds once a month.

3. Feed

If everybody raves about your homemade bread or your amazing chocolate chip cookies, make a batch for a loved one or someone you’ve wanted to connect with (also see above about us being friends). You probably have everything on hand but a few simple (cheap) ingredients.

But go a step beyond just giving it to them. Make a point to enjoy it together and spend the time building your relationship.

How to give generously with only $5

4. Multiply

This was one of the coolest parts of Change Christmas. One group of people at a local church worked at the same medical clinic. They had a co-worker whose husband had just had surgery. It had snowed a great deal and neither had the strength to shovel the driveway.

These people pooled their money and paid someone to keep their home cleared of snow. Could you do something like that with your family?

5. Love

It’s really all about loving each other and finding ways to build and strengthen relationships. One couple I know did this by purchasing index cards and a small box with their five dollars.

They took 12 cards, and wrote a group activity on each one (a combination of seasonal activities and your typical game night). After putting the cards in the small box, with dividers for each month, they presented it to her parents on Christmas.  And then, throughout the next year, they spent time together, growing their relationship.

Everyone loved it.

How to give generously with only $5

Need a few more examples?

Here are some other ideas from people changing Christmas (and loving one another) with $5:

  • Buy a sketch pad and colored pencils and draw portraits.
  • Buy a nice skein of yarn to make a hat or scarf.
  • Buy a yard of fabric to make an apron for a little girl. Then invite her over to make cookies.
  • Buy a deck of cards for someone with the promise to come play once a month (hit up the Dollar Tree and you have five fun dates to look forward to each month!).
  • Buy a friend a $5 gift card to her favorite coffee shop and offer to watch her kids for the afternoon.

All it takes is love, creativity and action.