5 Tips I’ve Learned From Great Gift-Givers

This post may be a little untimely. After all, you’re probably not thinking about Christmas shopping for next year.

But maybe you have friend with a birthday coming up and who doesn’t love giving and receiving gifts just because it’s Monday, right?

Or maybe you’re an employer who can’t give your team a raise, but wants to encourage and acknowledge their hard work.

I’m super easy to buy for because so much delights me! Give me a copy of Country Living UK to lose myself in and I’m as happy as if you had given me a car. (I’m really not a car person, so that’s probably not a fair comparison.) But not all people are so easy.

Anyway, whether you’re easy or not, don’t you know people who are just awesome gift-givers? I want to learn from them, so this past Christmas I paid close attention to gifts that particularly delighted me and made some notes.

Here’s are 5 things I came up with:

  1. Great gift-givers give things that affirm your aspirations and dreams. We have some friends who once gave me a sum of money to fund classes and travel to better equip me in speaking and writing for ministry. It meant the world to me that they saw potential in me and wanted to invest. On a whole different level, this might mean giving a leather bound journal or binder to someone who aspires to be a writer, or give the book, Do Over  or Halftime to someone who’s an entrepreneur or contemplating a career change.

2. Great gift-givers give things that have a story – they are meaningful and tie-in to your passions or pain. This was a gift I received for Christmas that has meaning on a bunch of different levels. It was made by women in Uganda from the large horns of cattle, made possible through a micro-loan (one of my passions is equipping like this). It is melted and molded by the women and sold to benefit them. Additionally, the note my friend included said:

“This reminds me of our Mighty King – melting, molding, polishing us to make a new thing He has promised.” And that’s what I think of every time I look at it!

Another example: One year, when I was going through a particularly hard time, a friend collected notes, verses, and encouragement from our community for me to open – one a day for a month.

3. Great gift-givers give things that may be small, but are personal to you (and often make you laugh).  You know how special it is when someone pays attention to what you’ve said about what you love (whether it’s coffee, or chocolate or mooses like my friend Carrie) and then gives you something that shows they remember.

My mom is especially good at this. John and I live for Lou Malnati’s pizza to carry us through our long Minnesota winters, but we can’t get it here, so my mom employs “pizza mules” – friends who are driving up, to import them.


4. Great gift-givers give things that are hardest for you to get for yourself. This is a good tack for a boss to take in affirming employees for a job well done.

An example of this is those couples who took care of our kids when they were little so John and I could get away for an overnight. Time alone…a gift card for a date night, or a spa treatment – these are especially valuable in the season of littles.

For others in seasons of singleness, or loss, or illness, the most precocious thing might not be alone time, but company and an listening ear, escape and a good laugh – a lunch date, a phone call, or just an evening hanging out and watching Netflix together.

Or just something that’s a ginormous splurge like flowers.

5. Great gift-givers give experiences that make memories. These can be big or not so huge. Do you have a talent or a connection you can share? We have two friends who are docents – one at the National Gallery of Art in D.C. and one at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Both have generously given us private tours to special exhibits that were just amazing. We were so grateful to learn from them!  Other friends have given us more extravagant experiences like special tickets, or the loan of a vacation home.

So those are 5 tips I have to share, but what about you? What are your great gift ideas?


  1. The malt you and John brought to Leah in the hospital. Soothing for the stomach and soul. It calms you and brings a smile to your face in such a different way than flowers or a card does. We were just talking about this at dinner tonight…about the malts…so it was fun to pop on Facebook and see this post of yours! God is good!

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