The first few years Elie and I were together, we didn’t exchange Christmas gifts, guided by a feeling that we already have so much. But, Christmas morning always felt like something was missing–not the getting, but the joy of giving. Giving a gift to someone you love is a joyful process the whole way through, from the careful consideration of their current passions to discovering that ‘just right’ handcrafted or artisan gift to watching their face light up as the wrapping drops away.
Yes, many of us have too much. But from the gift of Jesus to the joy of Santa, Christmas embodies the spirit of intentional, loving and thoughtful giving. After talking about it, we started giving again.
When I think about gift-giving, I always ask myself a few questions. What are they interested in right now? How do they love to care for themselves? What can I give them they might not buy for themselves? What is meaningful in their life? And then I search from there, buying from local businesses as much as I can or ethical and sustainable businesses I trust. I’m also a big believer in experiential gifts–a cooking class, a trapeze lesson or a fitness package. Unlike many gifts, memories last forever.
If you need a few ideas to start from, I’m sharing my gift guide this year, below. My list may spark an idea for a gift for someone you love.
Wishing you all a heartfelt Merry Christmas!
Gifts for Him
Elie is notoriously hard to buy for. He’s not a big consumer, because having a lot of stuff isn’t important to him. But what he does have–and love–is high quality and often expensive. His current passions: watches and coffee. Here are few things I know he’ll love, along with some gifts I know my Dad and brother will enjoy. The men in your life may love them, too.
these tech gloves that keep his hands warm, but allow him to text you, “I love you!” while he’s out for a walk // a custom framed map from Minted, of a place important in his life // this travel roller, perfect for rolling out the aches and pains from long plane rides // these shoes, a stylish and sustainable lightweight option for travel // these coffee clips (locally made) to make sure the big of espresso is always fresh // this hand-crafted display case for watches // this pour-over coffee set for the non-espresso drinker in your life // this coffee subscription for the espresso drinker in your life // this Kentucky country ham gift box (the perfect gift for Dad)
Gifts for Her
Here are a few of the gifts I’m giving to some of the women in my life this year, mostly my favorite splurge-worthy sustainable gifts of beauty and pampering, because those are the things we don’t often buy for ourselves.
this UMA cleanser for the beauty-lover // this jade roller for the spa-lover // this dry-brush for the wellness-lover // this rose Herbivore spray for the traveller (gift with this travel cosmetics bag, both available locally at Spruce) // these make-up brushes from Beautycounter for the make-up lover // this Lo and Sons travel bag is the perfect carry-on for the frequent traveler in your life // this Cuyana tote is special gift // as is this Panama hat // for the cook in your life, this cookbook, from our friend, Ashley // also for the cook in your life, a cooking class at Ciao Thyme or at their local cooking school // a 10-class pass to Barre3 for the fitness-lover
I’ve been reading more and more about the benefits of simplifying childhood play, including not having too many toys or too much stuff. Theo has all of the toys and activity play sets he needs, so he’s only going to get a few things to open this year, things I know he will use and love, especially things to encourage more imagination play. These are also the gifts we’ll be giving to other littles in our life.
these oven mitts, for the little cook in your life // these toddler puzzles are perfect for both home and travel // this map placemat will help him learn more about our world and let us trace our travels // these magnetic tiles encourage imagination play and this one is great for restaurants or travel // this flexible road, along with this town and these cars can create hours of creative play // this Lillypost book subscription keeps giving with three new picture books each month // play dough creates hours and hours of independent play and we love this Green Toys set and this one
Gifts for your Community
The spirit of Christmas giving is not just about giving to those you love, but it’s also about giving to people who you might not know well, but who impact your life every day, like your garbage collector, your mail carrier and your FedEx and UPS drivers. They are the people who clean your hotel rooms or cheerfully check you out every day at the grocery store. Consider small acts of kindness for the people you encounter every day, a gift card to a local store, homemade cookies or just a thank you note.
Elie and I are still developing our family Christmas traditions, and this year, instead of an Advent Calendar with gifts for each day leading up to Christmas, Elie and I made a calendar for the month of December with gifts of appreciation or service or those small acts of kindness. We try to include Theo in the giving and service as much as in appropriate for his age and understanding. As he grows, he will be able to participate more and more in this family tradition.
We also adopted seven local families for Christmas this year, to help spread the Christmas magic and joy of this season. If you’re interested in doing the same, it’s not too late. Contact your local social service organizations and school family resource centers, or reach out to friends and neighbors and ask if they know a family who needs help this year. Giving is truly the best gift.
Thank you to Matt and Erin for joining us on our tree-hunting adventure this year! We didn’t find one tall enough for our living room Christmas tree. But Theo had a lot of fun playing hide-and-seek, and we came home with a mini-tree for him. The adventure is always the best part anyway.