“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15)
Are you stressing out over last-minute shopping this season? Do you have difficult-to-buy-for people on your list? Are you strapped financially right now? All three?
With Christmas less than two weeks away, it’s easy to get caught up in the last-minute flurry of shopping and lose our financial peace in the process. We need quiet reflection right now to prepare for the Advent of Jesus Christ. We need hope, not the despair of waiting in long check-out lines.
So, pause and catch your panicked breath for a second. You still have time to choose or make gifts that will bring smiles to folks on your list. Here are a few ideas to help, using stuff already in your home or inexpensive items to purchase. Many of these I’ve done in the past or plan to do this Christmas!
Things to make with paper or on your computer/printer:
*Print encouraging Scripture verses on cards. Invite your recipient to post one a week or one a month on their refrigerator, bathroom mirror, desk, etc. Or, make Scripture bookmarks with scrapbooking supplies.
*Make fancy place cards. Use Canva or other free websites to download pretty images, with space for writing names. Print on card stock, cut into small squares, and fold.
*Make personalized stationery. Buy cards and matching envelopes at a craft store or office supply shop, choose a fancy font, and print your recipient’s name at the top of the cards. I had fun making stationery for my children when they were writing thank-you notes as high school seniors…it’s a good graduation gift as well.
*Luggage tags. You can buy self-laminating luggage tag kits at an office supply store. Print your recipient’s name/address info on bright-colored pieces of paper to insert into the luggage tag plastic.
*Write a poem. Sure, this sounds corny, but I’ve sent poems in years past on Christmas cards, and grandparents LOVE anything their grandchildren write or make for them.
*Send a prayer with a word of encouragement. It costs nothing to send texts or emails with words of praise and encouragement for the recipients. It’s even better to spend the time and stamp to send a handwritten card. Pray for your friends and family as you write.
Gifts of food:
*Think inside the jar. Canning jars or other large containers with lids work well for sweets. Bake your favorite cookies, and stack them inside. Fill a jar with your recipient’s favorite candies or even pet treats. Or layer the ingredients for “cookies in a jar” (lots of recipes online…here’s one link: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipes/843/holidays-and-events/christmas/food-gifts/cookie-mix-in-a-jar/).
*Make a snack caddy. Pick up a plastic basket, a decorative box, or some other container suitable for a car. Fill it with “road grub”—snacks easy to eat on a trip. This is a good gift for anyone traveling over the holidays.
*Make-your-own fruit basket. The ones pre-prepared at the store can be pricey. But if you already have an unused basket at home, take it with you to the grocery store and fill it with healthy fruits, nuts, and crackers. Just add a bow.
*Give a vintage recipe and the makings. Go to a thrift shop and scour the shelves for a cheap, old cookbook—the older, the better. Choose a fun recipe (like a Jell-O concoction), mark the page, and include the ingredients with your cookbook.
*Share family recipes. Last year, I went through my favorite recipes and several handed down to me from long-ago days, written out by hand. I copied them on my computer printer, put them in page protectors, and categorized them with dividers in three-ring binders…gave them to my adult children. It made me organize these treasures for myself as well!
Donations in honor of someone, or promises you can keep:
*Give a donation to a Christian organization that would bless your recipient and a needy person. For only $6, you can give a blanket in someone’s honor—and give a warm, comforting wrap to people who have endured a catastrophe. Cut a scrap from an old blanket of your own, and wrap up a note in it: https://www.samaritanspurse.org/our-ministry/gift-catalog/ For $15, provide food for a mother and child: https://www.compassion.com/charitable-gift-catalog.htm For $5 each, send Bibles around the world…this is also a good “memorial” gift for someone who has lost a loved one: https://gideons.org/donate
*Give your time, promised on a note. Write a coupon for an evening of babysitting, a shopping trip, a fishing expedition, an outing in the park, or some other gift of your time in the coming months to help a new parent, a shut-in, or a lonely person. If you’re the “crafty” type, offer to teach someone how to make a special craft. Plan a “date night” with your spouse!
*Give your hospitality. Write a gift certificate to host a special evening with friends or family. This could be an elaborate dinner, a potluck supper, a games night with board games, or simply a cup of coffee on your porch. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just an opportunity for you to open your home to bless others.
Merry Christmas and happy gift-giving to all of you who are struggling to make your Christmas budget stretch further—I hope these ideas help you. Please share your tips, too, in the comments section below!!
Blessed Christ, may we always remember that the best gift is Your love for us every day. Make us like the “wise men” who brought their offerings to honor and worship You. Give us Your grace to share with others this Christmas, and bless us with your perfect peace. In Your name, Amen.
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© Copyright 2022 Nancy C. Williams, Lightbourne Creative (text and photography)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.