Most years my youth group has a party just before Christmas and we exchange gag gifts -- stuff that only costs a few bucks and is usually meant to provoke a laugh from the receiver. One year we collected up all the gifts after the party(most were toys from the dollar store) and gave them to the ministry for homeless families that we support. This year I'm going to encourage my group to try something a little different based on an idea I found at the Buy Nothing Christmas website. It works like this:
Invite your youth to collect personal items from home that are in good condition but that they no longer want. These items could include clothes, books, games, dvds, toys, or anything else spilling out of their packed closets or from under their beds. Gather together and place the items out on tables or on the floor where every one can see them. Invite group members to take turns selecting a used item that they would like to keep. You might even go around twice or even let group members exchange something they picked for something someone else picks. Youth may even want to select items that they can give as a gift to someone else in their family. Since there will likely be left over items, collect all these up and arrange to drop them off to a local charity organization such as Goodwill. This way you are recycling items that might have ended up in the trash and also donating to a worthwhile charity. Plus, you are helping your youth to see that not everything you give at this time of year needs to come prewrapped from a store.
The Buy Nothing Christmas site also has a series of thoughtful Bible study guides for Advent that focus on encouraging youth to reflect on their consumption and look for alternative ways to celebrate Christmas. Each study includes " a scripture text, a written reflection, several discussion questions and some action suggestions called "changing tracks."