The 8 Easiest (& Cheapest) Christmas Presents Ever

One of the things I’ve learned about Christmas giving is that Christmas is about loving, not making sure the retail value of the presents you give match the retail value of the ones you receive. Come on, that’s just craziness!

Here are some of my favorite simple Christmas presents.



Adults usually have the means to buy more or less whatever they want, but sometimes love isn’t so easy to come by.

The very simplest present you can give is to write a honest blessing to someone. Make a list of what you appreciate about them! Tell them you love them! If it’s someone you don’t know (or…. quite honestly, cannot stand….) write a blessing for them from scripture. An honest word endures forever.


If you have kids, have them draw pictures for their grandparents, aunts and uncles, or family friends. To take things up a notch, mount their painting behind a frame (yes, those dusty old frames from the attic can be painted, stained and/or sparkled and re-used). Or, attach their tiny masterpieces to a magnet!

If your kids are too young to actually draw something, go modern-artsy with paint! Grab an old canvas (re-paint it a solid color) and let them smear and sprinkle to their heart’s content.


Got lots of broken crayons? Google melted crayon art for fun ideas of how to use them up!

crayon art

Or mount a piece of your child’s origami….


Guys like food. Girls do too. You really cant go wrong! And even though we all know they could afford to make or buy their own, admit it…. everyone gets tired of the same old same old. AND you are saving them grocery store/cooking time!

For families: homemade bread.

Kids: cereal bars (mix their favorite cereal with melted marshmallows, form into bars, let cool, decorate and package festively.)

Health nuts: Make your own trail mix and package it in pretty single-serve bags.

Athletes: Cliff bars, fruit leather or fruit.

Office friends: Chocolate covered pretzels (white chocolate w/ crushed candy canes  sprinkled on top, milk chocolate with peanut-butter chip drizzle, dark chocolate w/ craisins…. the flavor combos are endless.)



We don’t want to think about it now but…. (winter is gonna get dreary and depressing at some point.) Who can help but smile at the sight of a little cactus on the windowsill?

You can score tiny plants for less than $5.00 at most greenhouses.

Tip: Read the tags. Plants that tolerate dry soil and low light, and succulent plants like aloe or burro’s tail will survive the caretaking attempts of those less-green-thumbed among us the best.


My nieces are very young, but when they receive a coupon for an adventure with their aunt, they are thrilled! I think that’s because memories are timeless gifts.

So go ahead, think it through, then write out that Adventure Coupon. Plan a slumber party with the grand-kids, teach your co-worker to snowboard, sign your sister up to join a cooking club, take your uncle to see that museum he always talks about or help your friend overcome their fear of water.


TIP: to be sure it actually happens, set a date!


While we’re on the subject of coupons, why not write one out for a night of babysitting, or to fix your neighbor’s gutter, or to help your grandfather split that humongous pile of firewood he’s always working at? Trust me, they will most definitely cash it in!


If you’re at the bottom of your piggy bank, and still want to surprise someone with an extraordinary gift, why not re-make a thrift store find, or something you already own?

For gals: If you can sew it into a scarf or dip it in chalkboard paint, it’s sure to be a success. Also, anything of organizational use.

For guys: Four words: Wood, metal & window panes. If it has at least one of those ingredients, you can paint, stain, weather, sand or re-arrange it into contemporary trendiness.

You can also find some amazing furniture steals online and through local thrift shops if you know what to look for! My favorite haunt is our local Re-Store, a partner with Habitat for Humanity.


Even if you only have 10 minutes, one of the very best gifts you can give is your time! Drop a latte off at your friend’s workplace, actually schedule that Skype call, and make the trip to your great-aunt’s house that you’ve been promising her all year. You won’t regret it!


You’ll NEVER regret giving the gift of love.



All things [NEW]

Some days, I wonder where my Father has gotten to.

I always eventually come to the realization that I’m the one who has chosen to sit wearily in my own stubborn mud-puddle and refuse to move.

But often, He beats me to that realization and comes running towards me, and scoops me up in His arms, and whispers that He’s sorry about all the blisters on my feet.

That He’s proud of me, even when I’m weak.

That His best joy is in me.

That my interests are of highest regard.

Yesterday was like that.

The sun has been hidden for days, and that’s a big deal to me. It effects my mood, to be honest. But the sun also has a deeper meaning. It’s a reminder of the four golden panels of liquid sunshine that melted on my bedroom floor and wrapped me up in their warmth as I asked Jesus to come into my heart with simple 7-year-old words.

The sun, to me, is a warm, living message of God’s presence.

Yesterday, it was gone. And I was grexy, to be honest.

But as I drove through the windy backroads, God gave me three messages. The first one was spoken. God often speaks through music. These are the words He said: “I stay the same through the ages. My love NEVER changes. There may be pain in the night, but joy comes in the morning. My love NEVER FAILS.”

All you Christian musicians out there, did you know that the words you sing sometimes become words spoken straight from heaven?

The second message God sent me–as if His words hadn’t already been enough– was a gift, something I’d been wanting for years. It was perched beside the road between an old refrigerator and a doorless cat carrier, and it yelled, “I’m for you!” so loudly that I had to turn around and give it a closer look.

Sure enough.


It was a set of pigeonholes, built to withstand a hurricane, and in far better shape than any of the broken, match-box ones I’d checked out at thrift shops. With a little sanding and a fresh coat of stain and varnish, they’ll make store-bought models look like a joke. This was unbelievable. I’d been looking for the exact same style for almost two years, always refusing to actually go to the work of making them myself. Yet, here they were, a free handout from Heaven, tailor-made and stamped with God’s approval. Wow.

The third message God sent me was the sun. Slowly, as I drove, I began to see little dimples in the clouds.

clouds and sun

Suddenly, an eye-shaped gap appeared in the heavens, and the glorious rays of the sun shot down and grabbed the earth in an orange dance of joy.  The farther I drove, the more the sky cleared. And I knew what that meant.

“I am with you. Have I proven it yet? My love NEVER changes.”

I always thought faith was belief without a shadow of doubt. But now I know that it is choosing to take God at face value and make choices where I’ll be sunk if He doesn’t keep His end of the deal. I might be scared out of my wits, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have faith. It means I’ve chosen to risk that my Father will come through for me, which is the biggest test of love there is.

Over and over again, He has taken my little wobbly steps and turned them into the footfalls of 1,000 thundering chariots.

He makes all things new.

Because His love NEVER changes.