“For it is in giving that we receive.” ― Francis of Assisi
Yuletide and holly, eggnog and mulled cider, family and friends, goodwill to men…
Here it is again: the most wonderful time of the year! It’s when we get to celebrate God’s perfect gift: Jesus Christ, wrapped in swaddling clothes, adorned with grace, laid in a manger and worshipped by angels and men. In celebration of this most precious gift – as well as the significant gifts of the Magi (gold, frankincense and myrrh) to the newborn Messiah – we also get to participate, giving to those nearest and dearest to us.
So, what should we remember when getting ready to exchange gifts under the tree?
First, our gifts should always be given in a spirit of generosity and love, expecting nothing in return. In doing this, we truly reflect the boundless benevolence of God, who selflessly gave His only Son to die for the sins of the world.
Second, our gifts should be thoughtful, taking into consideration, as much as possible, the specific needs and tastes of the recipient.
That’s really it. Of course, it’s always nice when a gift is wrapped beautifully and when it is unique, creative and of a high quality, but these are secondary considerations.
Do you really want to give a unique, thoughtful and creative gift but don’t know where to start? Here are a few ideas to get you started.
For those of us who enjoy spending time in the kitchen, edible gifts are a great way to show you care. Get creative: cookies, pastries, candies, jams, sauces, pickles and infused oils are all good choices. Make your gift extra appealing with attractive packaging, like Weck jars, or special boxes or bags from the Container Store. Finish off with pretty labels and ribbon.
Longing to give something personal and handmade but lack the creative flair or skills in the kitchen? Browse through gift ideas on Etsy.com. The site has a wide range of handmade gifts for many recipients and for any budget.
Packaged gifts are another great option. Create your own gift basket with themes like Pasta Gift Basket (including some good quality pasta, high-end olive oil, sauce and colander); Movie Night (include popcorn kernels, assorted seasonings and a popper); Hot Chocolate (with assorted hot chocolate mixes, sweeteners, marshmallows and mugs). The only limit is your imagination. “gift of the month” subscriptions like cheese, ice cream, tea or chocolate can also make great gifts.
If your intended gift recipient is someone who likes to try new things, or you know they enjoy specific activities, try giving an experience:
• Tickets to a play, ballet, concert or luxury movie theater, like iPic
• A season pass or annual membership to a museum, gallery, zoo or amusement park
• A massage or spa treatment
• A prepaid, fun outdoor activity like paddle boarding, kayaking or a sunset cruise
Other gift ideas for specific recipients:
• Art of shaving kit
• Wireless speakers
• Leather valet tray
• Engraved luggage tags
• A lovely scarf
• Scented sachets for clothing drawers
• Gold-toned electronic chargers or earbuds
• A beautifully patterned dressing gown or kimono robe
• Personalized children’s books
• Construction sets
• Robot nightlights
• A fashionable backpack
• Portable speakers
•Modular bean bag chair
•Unique phone case
• Candles and candlesticks
• Attractive coasters (go for marble, agate or gold-dipped)
• Plants: an orchid, if they have a green thumb; a snake plant, if they don’t
• A gift or gift card from Food 52
Giving to those in need
“Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40).
It’s pretty easy to remember those in need around the holidays. The world is imbued with the spirit of giving, the Salvation Army is ubiquitous and soup kitchens see many more volunteers. But what about the rest of the year, when the feast is finished and the lamps expire? One important New Year’s resolution we all should have on our lists is to find at least some small way to invest in the lives of those in need. Indeed, we have been blessed with so much, and it takes so little to make a meaningful contribution to someone else’s life. With that in mind, the following organizations all offer a gift catalog that allows you to give a tangible gift — such as a goat or chicken — to those in need in honor of a family member or friend.
Its mission is “to help deprived, excluded and vulnerable children have the capacity to improve their lives and the opportunity to bring lasting and positive change in their communities”. The organization “works with families and communities to support children at each stage of their development, promoting children’s well-being, knowledge and skills so that they may participate in society to their fullest potential.” You can sponsor a child or give a one-time donation at www.childfund.org
International Justice Mission
A “global organization that protects the poor from violence in the developing world,” the organization works to: rescue victims; bring criminals to justice; give survivors the tools they need to heal and thrive; and strengthen local justice systems to help combat violence and slavery. There are many ways to get involved, including fundraising, praying, giving, or acting as an advocate. Connect at www.ijm.org
“A nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ. The organization serves the church worldwide to promote the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Again, there are many ways to get involved, including volunteering for a mission, fundraising or making a donation. Learn more at www.samaritanspurse.org
Food for the Poor
Started in 1982 in Jamaica, the interdenominational Christian ministry now serves the poor in 17 countries throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. The organization provides food, housing, healthcare, education, fresh water, emergency relief, micro-enterprise solutions for those in need. There are many ways to participate including Becoming a Champion, attending a sponsored event, joining a mission group or donating. Connect at www.foodforthepoor.org.
Keisha McDonnough is a research analyst and writer. A Jamaican native and South Florida resident, she is passionate about poetry and vow writing. Check out her website at everaftervows.com.