Pre-Christmas thoughts on gifts and giving

Posted: December 8, 2015 in Miscellaneous, Personal
Tags: , ,

‘Tis the season of giving and getting and I have a few thoughts on on those two topics that I’d like to share.  The first is that our family is very blessed, as are many in this country.  All our “needs” are met and everything we say we’d like for Christmas is a “want” or “would like.”  That in itself is a huge gift!

Secondly, one of my favorite parts of this season is giving.  But giving doesn’t have to be costly.  Our church is sponsoring Advent Wednesday service event, rather than a church service.  There are so many places the need volunteers, not just at the holidays when they usually get attention, but year-round.  There are people who could use a meal, a ride, baby sitting, handyman/woman help, etc.  These free or inexpensive gifts are often the most appreciated.  College students might appreciate the gift of rolls of quarters for laundry or a monthly care package.

Friends and family often appreciate the gift of time.  Our younger daughter’s Christmas list included a “women’s day” with me and I’m enjoying planning that.  There are so many ways to give the gift of time and in this busy society, time is a precious commodity.  The gift of something homemade is a gift of time as well.  If someone gives you the gift of time, appreciate it!

My parents, who are in their mid-eighties and who have all they need, always enjoy our gift of my week-long January trip.  That’s the perfect gift for all three of us, as they live in Arizona.  🙂 The break from the cold of northern Illinois and the fun of seeing them as well as exploring the Southwest is a joy for me, too.

Who says a gift has to be something you don’t need?  At one point in our lives, I wanted a new vacuum and my husband gave me one.  One of my personal training clients didn’t consider that a good Christmas gift.  Trust me.   Something I use often and that we need was a good gift and of course my husband did buy me some other things.  But why spend a lot of money on things you don’t need and then still have to spend money for a necessity?

I don’t think a gift has to be new.  Thrift stores offer all sorts of wonderful choices.  Be sure you know whether or not the recipient would be offended if s/he found out where you got the gift.  I would applaud you for giving me something I can use AND saving money.

It goes without saying that gifts don’t have to be expensive.  Gift-giving shouldn’t put you in debt and you shouldn’t feel you have to match prices with people who can afford to give you expensive gifts.  Give what you can afford from your heart.  If someone has a problem with that, it’s their problem, not yours.

Calendars that feature photos of family can be done inexpensively, but have the impact of an expensive gift and bring daily happiness.   A certificate for something to be done later might be perfect.  A card telling someone you’ll send them a letter or card every week/month would be an unusual and loving gift.  An offer to cook a dinner once a month (or whenever) would be much appreciated.

What do you think about Christmas (or other holiday) gifts?  What creative ideas do you have for gifts that aren’t expensive?  Did you ever get an especially loved gift or have an especially bad gift experience you want to share/

I do love Christmas and love trying to find the perfect gift to show the recipient how much I love and cherish him or her!!


  1. makingcamp says:

    Well done, you have captured the essence of what the season should be. Having taught our children the fun and value of thrift store shopping, we find that giving them “thrift money” for a shopping spree at a thrift shop to be like sending them on a treasure hunt a way to compound the value of the gift. Especially since these shops support other worthy causes.

    • Good point about the support for worthy causes. I’ve been shopping at thrift stores for years and our girls learned the value of them, as well as shopping when things are on sale. I like your idea of giving your children “thrift money”for a shopping spree!


  2. Allan G. Smorra says:

    Thanks for this reminder, Janet. I find that as I get older my needs are fewer and the cost of them is priceless. I am grateful to be in a position where I am able to buy just about any material goods I might want, but the most valuable present that I can receive is the gift of Time spent with loved ones.

    At some point in our lives we ask ourselves, “How much is enough?” The answer to that can depend on what point in our journey through life we are when we ask the question.

    • “How much is enough?” is a question I think is important. I’m at the point where I’d like less, but I’m having trouble getting time to go through and get rid of things. We gave or threw away so much when we moved and I’ve been donating ever since. Books are the most difficult for me. They seem to stick to my hands. 🙂


      • Allan G. Smorra says:

        I’m with you on the idea of clearing out books. It starts with the thought that “I might read this later this year” and that leads to leaving it on the shelf and reading the newer titles. Please let me know if you come up with a solution.

      • I will, Allan, but if I had a solution, I’d either not be writing the post or published a best-selling self-help book on the subject. 🙂


  3. Laura says:

    Lots of wonderful ideas. I like to knit hats and mittens. Many are given to children in need but some become Christmas gifts too.

  4. basildonkitchens says:

    Wonderful – we love to spend time with our families…it is the best gift of all.
    Great suggestions!

  5. bythebriny says:

    I give our neighbours home-baked cookies. Not expensive and always appreciated…at least, they haven’t told me to stop yet. 🙂

    • Karen, I doubt you’ll hear them asking you to stop. For many years I took a plate of homemade cookies and candy to places I went often: the library (of course), the post office, several grocery stores, etc. People were so surprised and happy. We even put out notes on the garbage cans around Christmas, telling the men to come to the door. We then gave them gift certificates for a local coffee shop. You should have seen their faces. I guess not too many people remember them at Christmas. 🙂


  6. Su Leslie says:

    I love this post Janet; and the way people have responded to it. I do draw the line at gifting things I need. I’d rather we just set a smaller gift budget to accommodate having to buy an “essential.” A few years ago a neighbour and I baked lots of goodies that we distributed around the neighbourhood. She has moved and I’ve lost the impetus, but I’m thinking that this year I might start again, especially as the neighbourhood has quite a few new people in it now. Thanks for getting me thinking. Cheers, Su.

    • Su, I was just telling Karen in the comment before this that I use to take plates of cookies to all sorts of places I frequented as well as to the police station, and gave gift certificates for a local coffee shop to the garbage men. It was always appreciated and fun for me as well.


  7. I couldn’t agree more. I am sick of ads on tv telling us to buy a lawn mower or something expensive for presents. So many people will go into debt over their spending on presents. It doesn’t have to be. I bring lunch to my parents for Christmas and spend time with them – that is all they want and they appreciate it. I usually try to make my presents and think about what everyone wants or needs and make it. It is made with love then.

  8. Lindy Le Coq says:

    A few years ago I started making a family calendar with everyone’s name and age on their birthdate. It started as a reminder for me, and everyone else appreciates it too!

  9. pattisj says:

    I still believe it’s the thought that counts, it doesn’t matter where the gift is purchased. And I’ve gotten “household items” as gifts, too–the gifts that keep on giving every time you vacuum, etc.

  10. As I get older, the gift of time is the most important thing anyone can give me. My grandchildren are teens and very busy with their lives but when they spend 30 minutes visiting and letting us catch up with their activities it is the best gift of all. 🙂 I also think if you are going to get a gift for someone take the time to make it meaningful – something that will bring a smile when they see it. For me, that might mean a plant or a piece of fabric. 🙂 And everyone should choose to start a new year without credit card debt they cannot afford – not worth it.

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