Simple Gifts

Now that gifts have been opened, I’ll answer the question many of you have inquired about: “What does your simple-living, rarely-shopping family do for gifts?”

Each year looks a bit different for us, but overall, we try to give frugal, handmade, ethical gifts each year. As we journey through the Advent and Christmas season, we try to bless others in our community and world on a daily basis. (If you need some inspiration for living intentional moments, you may want to download a PDF copy of “A Natural Noel.”)

Just for fun, here is a glimpse into our gifts. (I’ve been excited to share our projects with you, so I’m dumping all the tutorial links here. Have fun and take your time browsing!):

For Gen’s 4th Birthday, we gave her a homemade little totebag (complete with little compartments on the outside for crayons, similar to the “slots” in my crayon roll), filled with a recycled paper journal (perfect for taking to church!) and a book of favorite classic stories. (The bag was a pink & orange mini version of the Mommy Bag.)


For St. Nicholas Day, I gave Calvin a homemade “coupon” book full of date night fun & daily treats to redeem, along with a list of “10 Things I Love & Respect About You.” He gave me some needed clothing with a voucher to Fair Indigo (from this sale back in the fall). Both children received oranges in their shoes that morning, along with a small gift. We gave Gen a pair of sturdy rainboots and Enoch’s gift was a small set of construction vehicle toys.

For my Birthday, Calvin & Gen (along with another 4-year-old friend) made me a set of Pallet Shelves. (These had been at the top of my “wish list” this past year, and was thrilled to receive them!) They had a fun Saturday morning together, working on this project.

For Christmas Eve, I sewed flannel pajamas for both children, which they wore to church that night! I used this simple 15-Minutes Jammy Pants tutorial, and this (more-involved) 90-Minute Shirt tutorial (along with the instructions to make your own pattern).

For Christmas Day, our family purchased gifts from the Gospel for Asia gift catalog. (Gen also received some gift money, and she chose to use it all to buy VBS for kids, from the catalog as well, and is now trying to raise funds for her dream purchase of a camel or missionary bicycle from the catalog next year!)

We gave Kimi’s natural, homemade coconut or peanut butter chocolates and orange gingerbread cake to friends and family. Our nephews also loved receiving the Jesus Storybook Bible.

I sewed shoes for our children, adapting this pattern for the “girl” pair, and this “Bitty Booties” pattern for the “boy” pair.

We did tuck a few things into stockings. I finally finished sewing Enoch’s stocking, inspired by this strip-pieced quilting tutorial, using red fabric instead of white, and fewer fabrics & strips overall. I made Calvin a bottle of this Homemade Aftershave (recipe #2, adding in aloe and masculine-scented essential oils of cedarwood and lavender).

Calvin & Gen made me a jar of Sugar Scrub (also on my “wish list!”) while I was sewing, and Gen was in charge of scenting it with her choice of essential oils. (She chose a cheery, invigorating blend of lemon & peppermint oils, perfect for her sleepy mama on a gray winter morning!)  Enoch had a book from the thrift store, and Gen loved her new box of school crayons.

For our Anniversary, we chose an at-home date from Family Life’s Simply Romantic Nights Box. (We’ve had this set since the first Christmas of our marriage 8 years ago, and still enjoy it.)

In all these days, above all, we remember Jesus: The Best Gift of All. We certainly never want the day to be about “stuff!”

And you, dear reader, are a gift to me as well. Thank you for your readership, comments, emails, and friendship. I look forward to the new year with you! You may want to subscribe (it’s free!), so we can stay connected in the coming days. I have some fun recipes, projects, giveaways, and announcements coming in this next month!

Join me each Thursday for a new post in my Simple Living series! This is post #112.

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