They put pen to paper, wood to the saw, and clay in their hands to create the book, manger, and Baby Jesus that make up The Giving Manger – a complete tradition to help families focus on the real meaning of Christmas.
They never could have imagined how The Giving Manger would grow so rapidly, to help families spread kindness and shift the focus of Christmas from what they will be getting to what they can give to others.
In last Christmas season alone over 5,000,000 acts of kindness were inspired from this tradition that they started in their own homes with their children.
Allison lives in Ladera Ranch, California, and Lisa lives in Austin, Texas.
“It is a constant stream of messages from people with little tiny kids who thank us for just having something that’s focused on the real meaning of Christmas,” Kalberer said.
The Giving Manger is meant to encourage acts of service: Family members place one piece of straw for in baby Jesus' manger for every good deed performed.
Why do we love this? Well, it is working together as a family to fill the manger with service and love. Making Christmas less about the presents and the elfs destroying our homes every night. The focus is on giving and the real meaning of Christmas. Something that is easily forgotten during this busy time.
My absolute favourite time of the year. We have so many traditions from both myself and Jamie's childhood, which we have loved sharing with our children, they are so important to us. We have also gained a few new ones along the way from beloved friends and some I have just stumbled across.
Even toddlers can help out with small chores around the house: putting laundry in the washing machine, feeding the family pet, emptying small trashcans, etc. This gives them the opportunity to think about what to gift others, not just what they want to receive. Getting creative on their tiny budget brings joy to the whole family!
The Giving Manger uses a storybook that gets kids and families excited about the idea of giving to others. As Christmas approaches, each member of the family looks for opportunities to serve. Sometimes in the small, simple ways, sometimes in bigger ways. As they give a piece of straw is added to the Manger; on Christmas Day, the Manger is filled with Baby Jesus.
"You know we were trying to thank them and show kindness but how cool that they showed the kindness back and they had no idea that that loader was on his Christmas list and how much he loved that," said Hetterick.
Christmas has become a very consumerist time of year. We “get” stuff at Christmas, and sometimes can forget the spirit of giving that really should be associated with the season.
No matter what your faith, celebrating kindness is something we should all be making more time for at Christmas and the Giving Manger is the perfect way to do this as a family. Created by American sisters, Allison and Lisa, The Giving Manger has become a fun and interactive family Christmas tradition that celebrates the act of giving, rather than receiving, in the run up to Christmas Day.
Honestly the children were so excited to start and so far we have racked up a few straws each. I love hearing what they have done, whether it be at school or home, and asking me if it deserves a straw. Being kind is the only thing that matters and we hope they carry this tradition through to their little families too.
Get the whole family involved in creating this nativity scene with a twist: every time someone does something kind or thoughtful, a piece of straw is placed in the manger. By December 25, the baby Jesus willy be comfortably ensconced on a bed of straw, thanks to your good works as a family.
I think this is one of the greatest new Christmas products to hit the shelves this year.
The whole elf on a shelf thing is really cute, but this tradition is so much more meaningful.
It's a simple way to encourage your kids to do nice things for others every day until Christmas.
When you meet Allison, you realize that kindness and giving have greatly affected her life. She lives as such. Constantly looking for new ways to make giving easier for the home, she is always full of ideas. As a wife and mom to five, she is always trying to make giving a priority in her home and is aware of the difficultly to make giving happen on a regular basis. Through The Giving Manger, she hopes that families find giving fun and easy and in doing so remember the real reason to celebrate is Jesus.
When you meet Lisa, you’ll notice that her energy and passion is contagious beyond anyone you’ve ever met. Over the past five years, she’s put her heart and soul into building The Giving Manger from Texas with her sweet husband and son. Not only is she passionate about giving, but she is passionate about building companies and building up all the people around her. She will challenge the status quo, encourage others to live out their dreams, and won’t stop until every home that wants a Giving Manger has one. You might’ve spotted her and her sweet son at the airport last Christmas passing out candy canes and smiles.
Marissa Hays at Epic