by Deb Zeldenrust
I love giving gifts. I mean, I LOVE giving gifts and the planning that goes into finding the perfect thing for a family member, friend or neighbor. I see it as a great quest or adventure. Sometimes I begin as far as a year in advance thinking about the present that will bring joy to the recipient. Crazy, huh? Not everyone has the time nor the inclination to plan that far ahead, but some planning is essential. The important thing is for the receiver of the gift to feel the love that went into choosing it just for them.
- Plan ahead.
One year at Christmas I decided to give cookies to neighbors…the following year. I shopped the after- Christmas sales and purchased inexpensive snowman plates. I draw inspiration from what I happen to find. I now had my theme. Pretzels dipped that looked like snowman, white Oreos with snowman faces, snowball cookies, etc… You get the picture. I often save money by planning ahead, and I don’t have to scramble for a last-minute gift. View instructions here, https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/sweet-salty-snowmen/
Experiences are a perfect gift. The first of November I go online to www.experiencerochestermn.com to look for events or opportunities. This year I am taking a friend (who loves all things Irish) to a free Irish Christmas concert at a local church with dessert at the Olde Brick House Irish Restaurant afterwards. I am giving a history-loving friend a trip to the Wabasha Street Cave Tour in St. Paul. Look for free or low-cost activities to gift or enjoy together.
- Make it meaningful.
After a study of Jonah, I purchased homemade, tin whale ornaments for our group members with the hope that the memories of our fellowship and the lessons of Jonah would resonate with them as they placed it on their tree each year. You can also go the DIY route. I have made ornaments with the same goal in mind. Have a crafty friend help you if this is easier said than done. You get assistance and the bonus of time together. I love to go to craft fairs, which start popping up as early as November, to get unique ideas that I can tweak to fit my needs.
I bought my son an advent calendar with pockets (on sale at the end of the season). As he lives a good distance away, I send a package in November with all the items to fill the pockets that a friend or relative will secretly sort and stuff. Each day he and his wife open the gift: a favorite Bible verse, a Christmas memory from the past, an old school picture, a favorite candy, a family story or joke. This could easily be created for a friend, as well. Choose a gift that invokes special memories.
- Help the recipient feel loved.
I had a neighbor going through a cancer journey. I wanted her to know that I was praying for her through these tough times. She liked to paint and appreciated art, so I chose a devotion book that has beautiful artwork by the author, Scripture, and messages that speak about Jesus’ love, compassion and mercy. She said that some days she only had the energy to look at the pictures. We know how the beauty of nature speaks of God’s eternal power and divine nature. Think about what gift would make the recipient feel truly loved.
Christmas is the season of giving, but it is also the season of receiving. We know that we have received the greatest gift of all in Jesus. No present compares to the sacrifice He made for us on the cross. God was the greatest gift giver of all. He had a plan to redeem us, he gave us the gift of salvation through His Son, and he poured out his love to all humanity.
Deb Zeldenrust is a retired educator who finds volunteer opportunities to continue to pursue her love of teaching. She is the mom to two boys and three grandsons. At Calvary she co-leads a Bible study and serves on the Women’s Ministry Team. In her free time she loves traveling and reading.