Sunday, December 6, 2015

The 11 Best Christmas Gifts Ever

Oprah has her extravagantly popular favorite things.  And Martha is whipping up near-to-perfection gifts at her farm.  Here's my own sampling of truly lovely and thought-filled goodies to share with those on your list.

And don't call me Scrooge, but I think #11 isn't all that bad an idea ...


1.  Ornaments
Those sweet little hangings, some given decades ago, last forever and bring back the most poignant memories.  Unpacking them each December does nothing but bring a flood of warm thoughts and fond memories.  Especially those fragile oh-so-imperfect ones made long ago by eager little hands.  

2.  Books
If something you've read has enlarged your borders or turned your life around, that's a gift worth sharing.  {Here's a few volumes that changed my faith and a few more that I use for daily life.}

3.  Edibles
Gotta-eat-the-whole-loaf fragrant cinnamon bread ... warm from the oven cheese danish ... crunchy homemade granola ... a plate of lusciously decorated cookies ... a box of decadent homemade fudge ... nutritious soup still hot in the pot.  {How 'bout these favorite recipes for piping hot fresh flaky scones and my mom's surprise meringue cookies!}

4.  Experiences
Think tickets to a play or a dinner theatre or a spa or a local restaurant.  Handcrafted gift certificates for free babysitting or snow shoveling or errand running.  Opportunities for the kids to learn a new sport ... maybe ballet or art lessons?  Their parents will rise up and call you blessed.

5.  Candles
Stress-reducing lavender vanilla.  Zesty mango peach salsa.  Sweet raspberry.  And pine scented Christmas scented candles that burn throughout the season.  {I'm a big Yankee Candle fan!}

6.  Photographs
Matted and framed ... etched onto a mouse pad ... worked into a scrapbook ... printed on a calendar, this is a surefire winner for any grandparent or a far away loved one. {Shutterfly is easy to navigate}.  A digital picture frame loaded with favorite shots?  An extravagance that's hard to top.

7.  Subscriptions
Those magazines, fruit, newspapers, flowers {or whatever!} remind the recipient of you each and every time they make an appearance at their door.

8.  Gift Cards
Do you truly know their specific size, favorite color, unique style?  Probably not.  Save on endless hours trolling the mall and horrifically long lines for returns ... and allow them to take advantage of post-holiday sales.

9.  Heirlooms
Few things are more pitifully obnoxious than family members pawing through your belongings like vultures after you've left this world, arguing over who gets what.  How much more meaningful to give those family heirlooms now with your love, hugs, and the opportunity to share the story behind the chosen gift.  You receive the huge rush of joy that comes with giving these carefully selected, priceless treasures in person, sooner rather than later.  And your shelves will say 'thank you' for letting them breathe again.

10.  Livestock
Who needs yet another pair of slippers or a boring old tie that will hang there unused forever? You can choose to honor the recipient by gifting to those in need. Samaritan's Purse Gift Catalog is a longtime favorite ... your donation purchases livestock, chicks, blankets, hot meals, shoes, bicycles, you name it.  You can even feed a baby for a week.  It just doesn't get better than this.

11.  Nothing
Get the full size, ready to print holiday gift exception certificate right here.

What do you love to give?

&

What's bowled you over when you received it?



adapted

sharing gifts with
 Anita  .  Kelly  .  Holley  .  Lyli    

60 comments:

  1. Wonderful list. I haven't read many on your book list but The Shack has had a big impact on me as well. Also, Blue Like Jazz and a much older book called Messy Spirituality. This year, Searching for Sunday was very meaningful as was Coming Clean by Seth Haines and Sarah's latest, Out of Sorts.

    Our daughter and her family won't be with us so no little ones around. But our son texted yesterday he and his wife will be able to fly in and we've agreed to make it a gift-less year. What a wonderful place to be when you all know the time together is gift enough. Beautiful list, Linda. I may have to come back for future looks!

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    1. And you said it all with this, Debby -->'What a wonderful place to be when you all know the time together is gift enough.'

      When all is said and done, that's the only gift I really really want.

      Santa, are you listening?

      ;-}

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  2. Linda,
    Love these ideas...yes even # 11. I have also hinted to my family and friends that I don't need anything, but a donation to a charity that is close to my heart would be a wonderful gift. This year, I gave my closest friends the gift of savoring Advent, by giving them Ann Voskamp's "The Greatest Gift" devotional and the ornaments. It's been a big hit! Thanks for all the great ideas. May you be enjoying a blessed Advent season!
    Blessings,
    Bev

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    1. Thanks to your recommendation last month, I've been savoring Ann's advent book each morning, Bev! Her words have been a wonderful song to my spirit. And I plan on making it one of my go-to gifts in the future!

      Just super! I so appreciate that you're here, Bev ... for more reasons than one!

      Have a great week, friend ...

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  3. I love11 also. One year I told both of my daughters that I wanted them each to give me an afternoon once a month for a year. Time is priceless and the best gift you can give a loved one is your time.

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    1. Beautiful, Kara. I would love to have those afternoons with my girls ... sadly they live too far away for me to claim that gift. And when we're finally together, we're ALL together and there's seldom space for those cherished 1-1 moments.

      How blessed you are!

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  4. # 11 is beautiful! And I also love #1. My grown children get upset if they do not see their handmade ornaments form their elementary years not on the tree!

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    1. I hear you, Lynn! I love that all those little treasures they made are now put on the tree by their own children. It doesn't get any better than that, does it!

      Merry Christmas to you ...

      ;-}

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  5. GREAT list, Linda! I wrote tomorrow's blog about this very subject--the perfect gift!
    Blessings, Friend!

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    1. Lulu - I can't wait to read your post! Cool!

      ;-}

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  6. I did a double take when I got to "livestock"!! After I read it I understood more! Love all the ideas. Because I'm busy helping my parents clean out their house and I'm trying to declutter mine, I'm more sensitive to "stuff" and the need to give gifts that people can use up. Edibles, candles etc......Emilie just raided my house this weekend to get all "her" ornaments that are so special. I didn't tell her that it tugs on my heart a bit that I won't be seeing her ornaments on my tree anymore (shhhhhhh)

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    1. Yeah, I remember when I gave the girls their ornaments, Val ... it's fun to visit and see them on their trees. Every Christmas I try to unload more stuff on them. Even though I might not have use for every little thing I've collected along the way, it sure is nice when they choose to keep a little treasure in the family.

      At THEIR house!!

      ;-}

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  7. Great list:)!! Great ideas! Edibles are my favorite gifts for neighbors. I think it's just a great way for them to know we are thinking of them fondly:) Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I'm with you, Bomi ... 'cause ya' gotta eat, right?

      ;-}

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  8. I love the "nothing" option! :) But I'd have to convince everybody else too. ha. Not happening. Great ideas here, Linda. I buy mainly books each year for all the littles in our lives. I love the idea of "experiences" for all of us bigger people.

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    1. I hear you, Lisa ... #11 isn't for everyone! I love the idea of both books and experiences as gifts ... true keepers!

      Like you!

      ;-}

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  9. Looks like those Christmas cookies are disappearing fast, Linda! LOL Great list! Love #11!

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    1. I'm baking even as we speak, June! Oops ... the timer's going off on the final batch of those Surprise Meringue cookies ... GOTTA RUN!

      ;-}

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    2. Oh, I LOVE all of these ideas! Number 11 would be wonderful for our planet! I do want to give less this year in terms of material things- I don't want our girls to grow up with a sense of entitlement... Plus they have a birthday 4 days after Christmas... And they do have SO much already. I have been simplifying things this year- getting rid of a lot of the things that have been cluttering our lives...

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    3. Oh, I hear ya', Jandi! I've got two grand-kiddos who have December birthdays, too. It's a bit of a challenge to honor each of them and not let their special days get lost in the flurry of Christmas gifts.

      They are so worth it!

      ;-}

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  10. Love the ideas, Linda ... Yankee candle fan girl here too. : ) And experiences are some of my most cherished memories. But 11 would suit me too. Sweet blessings to you, friend. : )

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    1. I've got a pine scented one burning bright this evening ... love it!

      Appreciate you, Crystal!

      ;-}

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  11. Linda,
    All great ideas :-) Among the adults in my family, we don't exchange gifts and I love it :-) blessings to you...and a belated Congrats on being included in Sarah Bessey's lineup

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    1. This is the first year the 6 adults exchanged names ... shopping seemed almost too simple! We'll see what the verdict is ...

      Merry Christmas to you, friend. I hope that seminary paper went well and that you'll have a bid of a break between classes!

      ;-}

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  12. Hi Linda,

    I have the tune "These are a few of my favorite things..." now floating through my head. :) Thanks for this glimpse into some of yours.

    One of my favorite family moments throughout the year is when we decorate the Christmas tree. They aren't fancy or expensive ornaments, but we put on music, drink egg nog, and then reminisce as my kids pick out and hang their favorite ornaments from throughout the years. "I made this one!" little Daniel shrieked at one point this weekend, holding out a crumpled paper baby Jesus in a cardboard manger.

    Merry Christmas,
    Jennifer Dougan
    www.jenniferdougan.com

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    1. Oh, those crumpled little paper ornaments are such keepers. These are the ones most treasured 30+ years down the road. I just can't toss them away ... they stay wrapped up tight, too fragile to hang anymore.

      Sweet, sweet memories. I love how you're making them, Jennifer ...

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  13. I love to give gifts that are very personal. I have started the last several years to be intentional in what that looks like especially for my sons and they have done the same for me. When we have thought well about a gift whether it cost any money or is one from the heart, we show a deeper kind of love for the recipient. That is the kind of gift I want to give as well as receive.

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    1. I love what your family does, Mary. It takes time to be intentional and thoughtful in what we choose ... and you are reaping the rewards of doing so over the years!

      What a special Christmas you'll be having as your family expands with more love!

      ;-}

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  14. One of my very favorite Christmases ever was when I asked people to give me nothing. But I would like them to donate what they would have spent on me to a mission of my choice (I gave them suggestions with addresses). I asked them to give in my name and include a note with the donation telling them what it was all about.

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    1. Were the givers as enthusiastic about your idea as you were,Bill? How meaningful if they jumped on in and shared your heart ... and then paid it forward.

      So cool!

      ;-}

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  15. Linda- I like your gift examples! They are easy and heartfelt.

    I especially like the heirloom idea! So when you are ready to pass on Smokey, our 50 year old stuffed dalmation with all her spots rubbed off (except under her ear) just let me know!!!!! JUST KIDDING! I don't need anything else in my house, Smokey just came to mind when I was thinking of heirlooms!!

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    1. I do believe that ol' Smokey is resting in peace in Grandma's big trunk up in The Nest. Poor guy deserves a rest after all the lovin' he got over the years.

      We'll check him out next time you come to visit, ok?

      ;-}

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  16. Great ideas, Linda! I do love the "nothing" one, too. We have often mentioned to our children, all grown-up now, that their presence is our present. :) I love what Good Samaritan does, too.

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    1. You're so very right, Trudy ... that's all I want for Christmas ... and it doesn't even have to be on the 25th. You too?

      ;-}

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    2. Me, too, Linda. :) It's always a joy to have our children and grandchildren around us any day of the year. I'm so sorry you have some missing this year. May God help you through the ache!

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    3. Thanks for your kindness. Yes, we are missing my dad and Tyler. Very much so ... but the comfort and joy somehow continues to flow.

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  17. Lovely list and I agree with all points BUT... you need to add twinkle lights!! <3 <3 - http://www.domesticgeekgirl.com

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    1. Yes! Yes! To lights that twinkle and glow from limbs of trees and stand as welcome at every window, shining bright!

      ;-}

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  18. Love your list :) Lots of my favorites too! Made me happy just reading them - Thank you for sharing them - I like the idea of nothing too! Christmas can feel like so much pressure sometimes- thank you for a little peace here!

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    1. Oh, I love that you found a little peace amidst the craziness, Susie! So glad you dropped in this morning ...

      ;-|

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  19. Scones! I can't believe I haven't tried your recipe yet {and I know we've talked about scones before!} They look delectable! :) Just love this list, Linda, with lovely ideas . . .and by the way, I'd much rather take to heart your recommendations rather than Oprah's -- just saying!! :) xo

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    1. Enjoy, Valerie! They are easy-peasy to pull together ... and so very yummy!

      I'd love to share 1 or 2 and a cup of tea with you ...

      ;-}

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  20. Good list. Personally, I think the best presents are the edible ones. Including tree ornaments. Would it not be lovely to have cakes, pizzas, burgers and so on on the Christmas tree? And edible books too! Mine are edible(ish)and FREE.

    Happy Advent. God bless.

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    1. A couple of pies hanging off the limbs would do me just fine, Victor!

      ;-}

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  21. Beautiful list of gift ideas here, just on the day when I plan to knock out the rest of my Christmas shopping. Perfect timing. Enjoy the holidays!

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    1. Shop til ya' drop, friend! And then put your feet up and catch your breath!

      ;-}

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  22. You are just as generous and good at gift giving as Oprah, dear sweet Linda! I love your list and one of them--the one on giving heirlooms--caught my eye. My sister is giving my sweet new daughter-in-love a ring that was my mother's this Christmas. It's like we are able to include my mom in our celebrating, even though she has passed away! Though I know you were suggesting giving those things while you're still alive, I'm glad that my mom gets to give a gift "from heaven!" Love ya, girlfriend. Oh and that plate of cookies looks delish!

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    1. Oh Beth, what a lovely gift, what a memorable family celebration this will be for you all! I am so delighted ... and I'm guessing that your mom would be, too.

      Just lovely!

      ;-}

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  23. I agree, with Beth! These gifts could rival Oprah's! I love doing homemade gifts. I think it shows I took the time to make it with my hands for the special person I am gifting it to. I love ornaments too, they bring such a smile to my face when I'm decorating cause I remember when I got each one. I especially love the ones the kids have made or have their pic or hand,foot print.

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    1. I'd love to hear what you're crafting, Alecia! And yes, my favorite ornaments are the gems made from my own girls' hands three decades ago. I found some nativity figures made from wooden clothespins just last week ... and the memories came flooding back!

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  24. Really, really great list. Wonderful ideas. :)

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    1. Some days we need all the ideas we can get! I love hearing what other people are doing to share the love at the holidays ...

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  25. Linda, I'm for anything that will simplify the holiday and get my focus away from the whirling activity and toward the Savior who came to earth. Thanks for this thought-provoking collection of ideas.

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    1. I'm glad this worked for you, Michele! Thanks for taking time in the busy-ness of advent to leave your wisdom with us ...

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  26. Great list, Linda. Was just saying the other day that I much prefer to spend resources on experiences and memories than on material things that fade. (And, I love those candles too. :D I try to buy them when I have a B2G2 coupon--often going in on it with a friend, so we each get two for the price of one. :) ) ((Merry Christmas, Linda))

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    1. Ah, another sister bargain hunter! I love to scoop them up on sale at Christmas Tree Shops or T J Maxx!

      Never want to pay full price for anything!

      ;-}

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  27. Awesome ideas! My aunt gives us a silver bell or ball with the year, plus I have half of my Mom's collection. I treasure them. And really the best gifts are when someone pays attention to an item I admired and goes to get it. Just something little.
    Christmas blessings, Linda!

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    1. I hear you, Sarah! I have some of my Grandma's old ornaments and they are indeed priceless to me. Sadly, they're so very fragile.

      We pick up a little ornament to give each grandchild every year. Nothing fancy or exciting, but they'll have their own random collection to take with them when they head out on their own.

      I like that.

      Merry Christmas to you!

      ;-}

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  28. Found your list in the comments on Nester's blog today. :) Number 11 is an awesome idea -- especially since giving and receiving gifts is NOT my love language. :)

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    1. Hey Jenny! Glad you've dropped in from Nester's this weekend! Are you getting all ready for her big Christmas party tomorrow? It's one of my favorite online events of the year!

      Hope to see you there ...

      ;-}

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'I want the people in my life to know that when they come to me, with whatever is on their mind or heart, they will be heard. I am dedicated to hearing the hearts of those around me.'
~ Adam McHugh, The Listening Life

Linda