How to create a memorable family gift-giving ceremony in Christmas? For many of us, the holiday season is about the joy of sharing with our loved ones, bonding with family, appreciating each other and the blessings we bring to each other’s lives. Holidays are also about celebrating the sacredness of the days according to our spiritual beliefs.

So why not create a ceremony for your family to signify this wondrous time together? By turning your household from the stressful bustle into a loving, safe place in which to come together as a family, dine together and then exchange gifts with one another. A Family Gift-Giving Ceremony opens a sacred space in which family members are encouraged to express their heart-felt appreciation for each other. This ceremony underscores that the importance of the gift lies in the intention of the giver and the appreciation of the receiver. Below is an easy guide for the Zen Mami to create a Gift-Giving Ceremony, which could easily turn into a family tradition.


Step 1: Send Invitations
Send everyone a formal invitation to the gift-exchange ceremony, including the instructions on the gift exchange (below). Allowing participants to prepare beforehand minimizes stress during the ceremony.

Tip: Don’t just send the invitation. Call each person and share your excitement at this little twist in the gift-exchange moment. Make them feel excited and at ease.

Step 2: Instructions for Gift Exchange
Each person brings a card, letter or note for each family member. Include these three things in your written appreciation:

• I chose this gift for you because… Start by connecting the gift to the person, sharing why you chose it. (e.g., because “it’s your favorite color”or “to celebrate your passion for history.”)

• I am grateful for your presence in my life because… Here, name what the person brings to your life. This is a great opportunity to say thanks for anything that the person did for you. (e.g., ” You make me laugh, even when I’m having a hard time.”)

• I celebrate your (fill in the blank) Essence because… Third, name something you appreciate in the person just for who they are. This is a quality that is part of their essence, not something they do or give. The purpose of this statement is to allow the person to see how their being has an impact in the world. (e.g., “I celebrate your tender soul because you bring love into our lives.” Or “I celebrate your self-loyalty because you bring honesty to our conversations.”)

Step 3: Ceremony

• Prepare the space for the gift exchange. The dinner table could work. A semicircle of chairs around the Christmas tree is my favorite setup.

• Start with a light, simple introduction. Share why you created the ceremony and let everyone know what to do.

• Start with yourself. That way everyone will feel more comfortable. You may also draw names or order number from a stocking or basket.

There are three approaches to the Ceremony:

The Throne of the Recipient. Prepare a throne-like chair with holiday motifs and when it’s someone’s turn to receive, the person sits on the throne to be showered with gifts and affection. Each gift-giver comes forward, reads their appreciation and then gives the recipient their gift, which she/he opens right there. This flood of love and attention is unforgettable!

The Giver’s Treat. This approach focuses on the gift-giver, amplifying the satisfaction and magic of giving. The giver, in turn, begins to call one family member at a time. She reads her appreciation, exchanges hugs and kisses and then gives the gift, which the other member opens. Then the person goes to the next family member, until this giver finishes all of her gifts. Then the next giver is selected.

Gift Exchange. In large groups, where a gift exchange format is used and each person gives and receives only one gift, then the focus is on the exchange. Place two seats in the center of the group. When someone’s turn comes up, the person sits and calls the person to whom she is giving. Then the gift-giver stays and whoever has her gift comes forward and gifts her. The chain continues until all gifts have been given.


Don’t get too rigid about rules.Your task, after creating the structure for the ceremony, is to relax and allow everyone to experience a shower of love, appreciation and joy.

Don’t force anyone to do anything he/she is not comfortable doing. For example, if they don’t want to sit on the Throne or stand up, they can participate from their seat.

• Have a ceremonial assistant. Choose someone who is creative, expressive and outgoing. Your assistant can remind participants to write their appreciation cards. That person can also help you set up and start the ceremony.

May you have a magical, self-esteem boosting experience during these holidays!

Maria Mar is the author of the Success Seed Gardening Kit, 7 Key Emotional Permissions for Authentic Success for Women and Spiritual Creatives , Rewrite your Fairy Tales for Success and the upcoming inspirational novel, Angelina and the Law of Attraction. Learn more at Dream Alchemist.