It’s the Thought That Counts: Holiday Gift-Giving Wisdom


The season of giving is upon us! Cue all the wrapping paper, bows, and ribbon a girl can fit on her living room floor! (Can we just take a moment to thank the person that put the grid lines on the back of wrapping paper? What a game changer!) If wrapping isn’t your jam, a stack of gift bags and tissue paper is a completely acceptable substitute. After all, it’s what’s inside that matters anyway, right?

Speaking of what’s inside, let’s talk about gift giving. I personally love giving and receiving gifts. It’s actually my top love language. (More on that in a minute). For all those who stress about them, let me help you. It’s not about finding the absolute “perfect” gift or the most expensive one; giving is about taking a moment to think of the recipient and what would be fun or special to them. Show the person that you care. When it comes to giving gifts, it’s the thought that counts.  

Speak Their Love Language

I’m sure many of you have heard of The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. If you haven’t, go take the quiz and see what your top love languages are. You can get an overview of each if reading the book doesn’t fit your jolly schedule of chaos right now. They will give you perspective that completely translates to gift giving. Now, I’m not saying you need to have every person on your shopping list take the quiz and report back. What I am saying is take the quiz for yourself, understand each language, and then think about the recipient and what they probably speak. I bet you can quickly figure out that Aunt Nancy speaks quality time. So, for her, a gift of an afternoon of pedicures for the two of you would be appreciated more than a solo one. It’s the thought that counts. 

Ask for Some Inspiration

“Ask and you shall receive.” Let’s modify that by saying, “Ask and they shall receive what they want or need!” Is there something special in getting a gift for someone that’s a surprise? Of course. But, let’s face it: sometimes “mom brain” takes over, and we get stumped. We want to give them something they will use, so why not just ask for some ideas? Asking isn’t a cop-out. You still get to decide what you give. And who knows, maybe the suggestions will spark an idea for another gift that would be great for them! It’s the thought that counts.

Encourage Them to Splurge 

Some people look at gift cards as a lazy gift or that they’re too easy, but I beg to differ. I think a gift card is an awesome gift! When I get a gift card, it gives me permission to splurge on something that I WANT, not necessarily need, and that is a beautiful thing. Maybe your bestie loves Pumpkin Spice Lattes but a regular stop in the drive-thru isn’t in her budget. (Let’s be honest—those babies add up quickly!). Give her a Starbucks gift card for a little indulgence and simple pleasure as she starts her day. Maybe your brother is going on vacation in February to escape the Michigan winter? Give him an eBags gift card toward a new suitcase, so he can get one that stands out among the approximately 787 black bags on the luggage carousel when he lands in paradise. It’s the thought that counts.

Remember to Give Back 

As you cross off each name on your list, please don’t forget to give back. It’s truly one of the best parts of the season. The holidays can be hard for people for a multitude of reasons. It’s our job as a community to lift up the hearts of those who need it and spread joy.

Here are some examples of ways I’ve given back over the years if you need a little inspiration:

  • Participate in a giving tree at your local church 
  • Adopt a family 
  • Visit a nursing home to sing Christmas carols  
  • Wrap presents for a toy drive
  • Bake cookies for a neighbor

When my son was born, I wanted to do something special and start a tradition that he could be a part of as he grew up. I saw the cutest idea on Pinterest (because where else does one find good ideas?) where you wrap 25 books and open one each night in December to read leading up to Christmas. Instead of doing it for ourselves, I decided it would be more fulfilling to provide that for a family who needed a little boost. So, on the last week of November every year, I deliver a stack of books and a basket with some reading essentials—a fuzzy blanket, hot chocolate, and snacks—to a local family to kick off their December with snuggles and quality time. It’s the thought that counts.

“It isn’t the size of the gift that matters, but the size of the heart that gives it.”

Eileen Elias Freeman



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