gift guide, present, grand rapids

The Ultimate Gift Guide

Tis the season for…gift guides! I’m seeing them left and right from bloggers and in magazines. They are fun to browse and there seems to be a gift guide out there for all the hard to buy for people in your life – husband, teacher, nephew, teen, and everyone in-between.

Giving gifts is a way to express our love and appreciation for the people in our life and that’s certainly a worthy endeavor. However, the pressure to find the perfect gift can threaten to add stress to the season, and we’re having none of that this year!

gift guide

I’d like to provide a little twist on how we can approach the gifting season. Following are some gifts of the heart to consider this year. They’re not meant to replace your gift giving traditions, but to supplement and enhance them. And, bonus! They don’t even require a credit card or a trip to the mall. 

The Gift of Forgiveness

Take a minute to consider whether there’s someone that did or said something that you haven’t let go of. Maybe it’s something big. Maybe it’s little. And perhaps you didn’t even realize, until you really thought about it, that it was still with you, weighing you down. It’s time to move forward. No one has the power to steal YOUR joy! Practicing for “gift”ness doesn’t change the past, but it WILL change the future.

The Gift of Time

What would our kids REALLY appreciate? Our TIME! That didn’t make their wish list? Well, I’m going to venture a guess and say that they’ll take our presence over our presents any day! The gift of being in the moment, fully present, is a way we communicate that there’s nowhere else we’d rather be, and that they matter. 1 on 1 time with a child is especially cherished. Set aside any distractions (phone, anyone?) and spend some real quality time together. Take your kiddo out for breakfast, or on a walk. 

gift guide, parent and child, grand rapids

This isn’t limited to the kids in our life, either. Been awhile since you and your spouse have been on a date night? No better time than the present!

The Gift of Experiences

Experiences create memories that last longer than the interest in whatever toy/gadget/possession will last. It can involve a gift that the whole family enjoys together, such as tickets to a sporting event. Or, it can be more personal and tailored, like the gift of swimming lessons for your water loving little fish. When we really care enough to be attentive and to notice what someone enjoys, it’s so gratifying to be able to gift them with something special – just for them! 

The Gift of Gratitude

There’s a reason why gratitude journals and practices are so popular. They remind us of the blessings in our lives. They shift our outlook toward one of joy and contentment. And they have power to change lives.


“Circumstances and opportunities do not create gratitude. Gratitude creates circumstances and opportunities”.

Keith Wommack
gift guide, joy sign, grand rapids

A few ideas:

1. When you tuck your kids in to bed, each of you share 5 things you’re grateful for. 

2. Start your morning jotting down what you’re grateful for in a journal. 

3. Reach out to someone you may not typically interact with, but you appreciate, and write them a card expressing your gratitude. My daughter did this for our mailman one Christmas, and it was such a meaningful experience. My daughter found great joy in this, and the mailman wrote her back to thank her, too!

The things we’re grateful for don’t need to be monumental things. If you’re struggling to see the good, you can start with small nuggets gleaned from mere moments in our day. More often than not, this will provide the momentum to notice and appreciate the bigger things, too.

The Gift of Correspondence

greeting card

It’s easy to let days and years pass by while certain relationships fall to the wayside. So take the opportunity this holiday season to reach out with a card – a good old fashioned card that you put in the good old fashioned mailbox. It doesn’t take a lot of time or money, but can go a long way toward reconnecting. 

I’ll wrap up with a poem I found:


Christmas gift suggestions:
to your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.

Oren Arnold