It’s almost Thanksgiving. Twinkle lights are starting to appear and Peppermint Mochas are available. I’ve started playing Christmas music and praying about how God might use these posts to bring life and peace this Advent.


One of the huge stressors of the season is the gift giving. Can I get an “AMEN”?!! The financial strain, the time crunch, the emotional stress of trying to find Just The Right Thing. We want it to be delightful and natural and sometimes it is, but others times…

Can I make a few suggestions (especially if you have young kids)? Note: everyone is different! Maybe these aren’t right for you.

  • I know people who like to wait til Christmas Eve to shop, but REALLY??? Oh the madness! If we’re going to have a Christmas focused on Jesus and with margin for quiet and delight and spontaneity we need a PLAN, which is why I’m posting about gifts now, before Thanksgiving
  • Throughout the year we didn’t let our kids watch commercial T.V. They could watch PBS or videos within limits (no more than an hour a day and 2 on weekends). I don’t know how we originally came to this policy, but it was HUGE in heading off the “I’ve gotta have this or that!” mania. Now if your kids already watch commercial t.v. and you want to switch and they’re old enough to understand, couch it as a fun experiment, or TIVO and speed through commercials.
  • We tried to stick to a policy of not going into malls after Thanksgiving. Just the thought of a mall after Thanksgiving with kids in tow makes my eye start twitching, but again, it requires advance planning 🙂
  • Our tradition, similar to many, is to give three gifts at Christmas to tie into the idea that the wisemen brought three gifts to baby Jesus. Then, of course I try to cram as many gifts as I can into stockings, but whatever…our motives are good.

So, if you’re with me and you’re making a plan for gift-giving, here are a few ideas… 

What if, as a family this year, you let your kids choose 3 gifts to give to those in need?

Check out World Vision’s Gift catalog They even have a Gift Finder Quiz that’s fun!

or International Justice Mission’s giving catalog

I also like Glennon Melton’s suggestion for gift limiting: Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read.
And something to light up the world. (see suggestions above).

And THIS from her also! Oh the cuteness! (think Grandparents) Design yours and buy here.


“Something to read”??

Well, THIS looks amazing for kids! In a time when we hear so much about the terrible plight of Syrian refugees, what could be more appropriate to reflect on Mary and Joseph as refugees?  The author, Anne Booth, uses the donkey as narrator, ‘When the last king left, the scent of frankincense lingering in the air, we all slept and the man had a dream. A dream of danger. …

And we set off … under starlight, through empty streets, whilst people were sleeping, hoping for the kindness of strangers. Again.’

I’ve only seen reviews and excerpts, but I just ordered Refuge. Part of the sale of every book will go to the charity War Child.



Also I LOVE Sarah Bessey’s new book, Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith. It’s one of those where I can’t stop underlining and saying “Yes!” and “Oh, me TOO!!!”. Highly recommend!


For “something to wear” check out Their mission: At FASHIONABLE, we believe our role is to INVEST IN A WOMAN.  When a woman is empowered with work to do, whether in the home or in an office, she not only experiences the joy and satisfaction of developing a skill, she also creates change in those around her. FASHIONABLE’s role in this story is working with women, both locally and globally, who have overcome challenges ranging from prostitution to addiction to a lack of opportunity.

Yeah, some of it is quite pricey like this bag.


But there are some more affordable items too. Like this. (And if you have a college age daughter in a sorority… 🙂 )


And another meaningful idea… I got one of these giving keys years ago with the word HOPE etched on it. They are made by ex-convicts to give them employment. The idea is to choose a word you need and then eventually give it to someone else who needs it.  Take a look at how it works on this video.

Lastly, if you’re the type who likes to make gifts to give to friends and hosts, here’s a recipe for homemade granola I gave last year. This can be made ahead and frozen! A Plan!! 🙂

Mix together in a large bowl:

6 cups oatmeal

1-2 cups sunflower seed nuts

2 cups toasted slivered almonds (Trader Joe’s sells them already toasted!)

Cook together in a pan on the stovetop:

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup oil

2 TB cinnamon

1/2 cup water

Bring to a boil and stir til thickened a little. Pour over the dry ingredients and stir. Put in a roasting pan and Bake @300 degrees about 1 hour, stirring every 15-20 minutes. Maybe give this in a mason jar with the top decorated 🙂

So what have you come up with? Have you found meaningful gifts to share with the rest of us? A brilliant plan for taking the stress out of the Christmas season?