We often encounter church people who suggest that it might better to give $15 to the poor instead of buying The Christmas Game. There are three reasons why this argument is misguided and leaves everyone worse off.
First, exhortation and shaming are not effective at changing people's behaviors. By contrast, The Christmas Game is a proven framework that encourages and institutionalizes acts of kindness far in excess of $15. In other words, if your family plays The Christmas Game, you will end up doing much more than donating $15 to a needy cause.
Second, although recognizing the needy is an important part of the Christmas holiday, it is not the only part of Christmas that matters. Sacrificing The Christmas Game pays Paul, but robs a half-dozen Peters to do it, including Kindness, Togetherness, Shared Memories, and Learning. Our obligation to fully celebrate Christmas requires a broader view. Most families are looking for Christmas to be more. When you are feeling outnumbered by fake Santas, The Christmas Game can be immensely helpful.
Third, any expenditure might be re-routed to the poor -- coffee, dessert, a movie, new shoes, or cable television. The Christmas Game is so meaningful and so effective that it does not deserve to be placed at the bottom of that list.
But if you are down to you last dime, the solution isn't to reject The Christmas Game, but to play for free. Our website is loaded with information and examples about how to make your own game.
In the end, the right question isn't whether The Christmas Game could be sold for 300 silver pieces which in turn might be given to the poor, as Judas might suggest (John 12:5). The question is whether playing The Christmas Game brings your family closer to realizing the values you care about most.
If there are no presents under your tree, and you live an ascetic life to aid the poor, then play for free. We'll help you! But for goodness sake, play the game, don't find excuses not to. And do not, in the name of Christian virtue, discourage people from doing something that would be immensely helpful to them and to others at Christmas time.