I wrote a post last week about a thoughtful gift I'm trying to pull together (and haven't yet, in case you were wondering).  The comments astounded me.  Many of you shared gift ideas so remarkable that my little attempts at thoughtfulness feel downright wimpy.  In case you didn't get a chance to read through them, I asked several of the commenters if I could share their words.

(I know.  It's probably mean of me to post this three days before Christmas, when it's too late to implement any of these ideas for this year.  How about it if I promise to re-run this in early November next year?  In the meantime, enjoy the thoughtfulness and creativity of these women.  It made me feel all squishy.  Or perhaps that was the eight pounds of corny snack mix I have ingested this week.  Either way, enjoy.)


Last year I hand-wrote the whole book of Ecclesiastes in a handmade journal for my husband, who was (and still is) in the throws of depression. It ended up being a gift to both of us, because there is nothing like WRITING something to make it soak in yourself. And anyone suffering like that NEEDS to read Ecclesiastes (all of it), but I think it made it more meaningful and comforting for him to read it in my handwriting. I think.

Kari (and I believe this is what they call speaking your man's love language):

I'm getting my dh an industrial size can of nacho cheese sauce from Sam's Club and the kids are getting him chips.

Kristen (she wrote more about the project here):

My most meaningful is a gift to my MIL from my kids. They wrote out their grandma's favorite recipe that she makes and drew a picture of it (I left it unedited because it's darling). I scanned the artwork and printed it on transfer paper. I ironed them onto kitchen hand towels and adorned it with pretty ribbon across the border. I think she will treasure it!


I took a poem from my mom's published book and made it into a hardcover book on one of those photo sites…it even allows you to put a bio on the back flap and picture on the back…I bought one for us girls, our kids, my aunts and my grandmother.


I'm cooking a meal for a family with three children on Wednesday. He works with my son. Payday for them is on Thursday and they never have any money for food or dinner the day before, since they live from paycheck to paycheck. So, I will fix a full meal with meatloaf, baked potatoes, veggies & dip, homemade bread, chocolate cake & Christmas cookies. And give them a gift card for groceries for Christmas.


A violin! My husband mentioned back in the spring that one of his life goals was to own and learn to play a violin. He figured it was prohibitively expensive for now, but wanted to do it at some point in his life. Well, I found one on Craigslist for $100 back in October.


When my husband died, I kept his shirts, and I have been making memory quilts for my 3 children. I have just finished the one for my oldest son, and there is a photo on my blog. I have 2 more to go, and though all the tops are assembled, they are not quilted yet. But they will be soon. My oldest son will be getting his for Christmas.


The gift I have put the most time and love into is for my little girl. This spring when my sister in law moved far, far away…SOB…she gave my daughter the doll her grandmother (thus my girl's great-grandma) made for her probably 35 years ago. My daughter fell passionately in love with this dolly in spite of its age and frankly, time had not been good to the old girl. Her hands and feet were holey. Her yarn wig was falling off. Her face was nasty from 30+ year old stains. She looked bad. Really bad. So, marvelous mommy that I am (snort!), I gave her a make-over! She looks fabulous if I do say so myself. I recovered her entire body, sewed her hair back on, gave her a new face, and even made here a cute Christmas dress (that I put together without a pattern! ! I'm so proud of me!).

Mookslchlabs (and I'm continuing to live in hope that "Mookslchlabs" might actually be "My Mom"):

My daughter and son-in-law both work full time and by the time they are both home, the kiddo's are starving. Daddy gets home first, so is in charge of dinner. This year, they are getting 25 "Freezer Meals"–everything from homemade soup to beef stroganoff. All they need to do is decide the day before what they want, pop in in the fridge to thaw and throw it in the over/microwave/on the stove (depending on what it is) and a nutritional dinner is ready for them in about 30 minutes. Since it isn't anything I could really wrap, I bought the noodles, biscuit mix, rice, etc. that go with some of the casseroles and that is what will be under the tree.

Tootie (and dear Tootie, I think there is absolutely nothing dorky about this):

This may sound dorky, but as far as homemade gifts go, I'm giving my parents some stories I've written about our Christmas times together.


We're putting together a book for my mother filled with pictures and quotes from all the kids.

Rachel (in the True-Love-Is-a-Farting-Hippo category):

Okay, this is going to sound really silly, but I'm so proud of myself for coming up with this idea that I have to share. I'm making my husband a hippo that passes gas. Seriously, that's the best idea I've had. He was watching NCIS and saw Abby the forensic technician had one and died laughing. Anything that can make him laugh like that is worth getting. He is so hard to shop for. My parents are getting him a series of gift cards, but I'm going to give him a really meaningful gift. A hippo that farts.


This will be our last Christmas with my Dad. This year, I went back and compiled old interviews, photos and the rare home movie in a montage of him. (no current stuff, since he's been unable to speak for almost a year.) I made copies for my mom, my brother and myself so we have something to remember him by.

Condo Blues:

I'm framing two metal ceiling tiles from the 200 year old church we were married in for my husband.


My other favorite thing–kind of a gift–that I'm doing this Christmas is for my brother-in-law. He's a Marine serving in Iraq right now. This is his second deployment and when he's there he grows a mustache. It's just his silly thing and we all tease him about it. I bought enough fake mustaches for everyone in our family and when we take our family photo in front of the tree we'll all wear them and e-mail it to him–it will be like he was there with us!


This year, I found, on the Oprah site of all places, Gratitude Boxes. I'm creating one for each of my grandparents and asking all of the family to write little notes, cards, or letters about memories, wishes for them, or how thankful they are for having them in our lives. This is, by far the gift I'm most excited about giving and it will be from everyone!

27 thoughts on “Thoughtful

  1. Martia says:

    What wonderful ideas. I love handmade gifts. My mom makes beautiful quilts, and when I score one of them at Christmas, I can’t control myself. I love this idea about putting a recipe with a kid’s drawing on a kitchen towel. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Mama Bub says:

    I’m in tears, both of laughter (the farting hippo!) and sorrow (memory dvd.) You MUST republish this next year, if only to remind us of the true spirit of Christmas.

  3. Kelly says:

    My dh is adopted. After his Mom died last year I inherited some of her jewelry and her jewelry box. In her jewelry box I found the newspaper announcement that she had published when they adopted my dh.
    He was adopted in 1963 when adoptions were very secretive. But not my MIL. She was so PROUD to have him and she wanted everyone to know. “Mr. and Mrs. Melton X are proud to announce the adoption of a son, Kiplyn Reeves, age 7 months. Mrs. Melton X is the former Judy X of Buena Vista, Va.” She even put her maiden name in there because she wanted to make sure that everyone knew she had this beautiful baby boy.
    SO- I found an old picture of Kip on his “gotcha” day (the day his parents got him) and I took the picture and the newspaper announcement to a local framing shop and had them framed. I am giving him that and a tin of “scotcheroos”- his favorite dessert that his mother made him every year.

  4. Leigh says:

    Kelly! I teared up reading your post about the announcement of your hubby’s adoption. What a fabulous gift!
    When my parents got divorced, my mom took all my baby pictures with her, effectively leaving my dad with no pictures of me prior to my 18th birthday. Over the course of the last year we’ve learned that my mom has destroyed of all of those photos, and all I have left is a shoe box of photos she gave me before she disappeared. (Really long story there.)
    Both sides of my family have rallied together, and are sending me all the photos they have of me as a baby and little girl so that I can give them to my dad. My goal is to have it complete by my 30th birthday, which is Feb 2010.
    (Sidenote: I too want a farting hippo.)

  5. Cara says:

    We did something similar to the mustache picture two Christmases ago. My mother had breast cancer that metastasized to her brain, and one of the tumors affected one of her optic nerve, causing that eye to ‘cross’. She would wear an eyepatch so she could see more clearly. That Christmas, my sister made her a ‘bling’ eye patch, and I put an eye patch in all of the big kids’ stockings. For our picture by the tree, we’ve all got on our eye patches and she’s still laughing hysterically at her bling patch. One of my most favorite pictures. : )

  6. Holly says:

    Oh my goodness–now I feel all squishy too. I’m running terribly behind this year (as if that’s really different from any other year), but will try some of these next year. I like how they are perfect for any occasion.

  7. Suzie says:

    OK….my ideas are a little late, but I hope it’s ok to share.
    For my 80 year old aunt, I’m printing off all my blog entries that talk about my family and enlarging the print so she can read it. She doesn’t have internet, and I don’t get to see her as much as I should, so this will let her know how the last year has been in our life.
    For our “grandparents” gift this year, we are making a book called “All About the Grandkids 2008”. I came up with 10 questions for the grands to answer. On each page of the book, I’ll put that child’s answer along with a picture from that year. What I like about this is it can be easily replicated every year by just switching out the questions and the pictures.

  8. stacy says:

    Since we are broke my husband and I agreed not to exchange gift so my will have to wait until Christmas is over, sneaky I know…..
    When my husband and I were both young teens, before we knew one another, we both went to events for True Love Waits. He and I both signed cards and kept our commitments. Just this week I found his card that he and I have been looking for for years. I found a frame that holds three pictures, so I will put our cards in there own frame and a picture of us in the middle. I haven’t decided yet if I should go with a picture of us as teens or one of us at our wedding.
    Anyway, the best gift he could have ever given me was waiting for me. There was nothing more precious to me about that night than nothing we were about to share something with each other that we have never shared with anyone else….oneness.
    Thank you for posting all these other ideas. It gave me great ideas for next year.

  9. mumple says:

    We didn’t do it for Christmas, but one year, for my mom’s birthday in February, we put together an album of pictures from her life.
    She didn’t have any pics of her dad, or herself growing up, or of her grandparents, and we convinced my aunt & grandma to give ’em up. We put it together, including pics from when we were kids, and pics of my dad & her…
    We wrapped it up. And as much as she hates surprises, and as much as she hates her birthday, it was so worth the work!

  10. aquamarine says:

    So creative and personal! I love the thought and time that each of those individuals put into their gifts of love! We are having a mostly handmade Christmas here too, but nothing like those examples. Logging this away for next year!!!

  11. Polka Dot Mommy says:

    Gah… I’m sitting here bawling. My kids keeping sending me sidelong glances (with the occasional, “would you please feed us some lunch!”)
    My Mom has ALS and won’t be with us much longer. She hasn’t been able to speak in almost 3 years (and her conversation is what I miss the most). She has no use of her body and that makes gift giving exceptionally hard. My plan was to make a quilt decorated with the kids artwork. I haven’t had the time. We decided to use the program on the iMac to make her a slideshow DVD with photos of the kids (her only living grandchildren) from this past year. I’ve also included an iTunes gift card so she can get more music for her iPod. She has so few joys left and my goal was to give her something special and useful.
    I also sent out letters to family asking them to write a letter to Mom, any memory or thought they wanted to share. I haven’t gotten many back yet, but when I have several, I will compile them into a “Loving Thoughts” book to give her.
    I’m in love with all these ideas, some hilarious, some sweet, others incredibly thoughtful! What a wonderful group of readers you have!

  12. Erica says:

    Those were all awesome. What stood out to me, however, was the possible double-meaning in there. Jennifer wrote about her sister moving far away and then wrote “SOB”. At first glance I didn’t take this for the loud, desperate cry it was intended to be, but rather an all-caps abbreviation for a — well, not-so-Christian thing to call your sister. 🙂 Thanks for the unintended laugh!

  13. Michele Helms says:

    These are awesome ideas. I have a great one for my husband this year. I wrote to all of his “hero” pastors and evangelists and asked for copies of one of their handwritten sermon outlines…they all obliged and I am compiling them in a scrapbook for him. I can’t wait for Christmas!

  14. heather from girl meets world says:

    I MIGHT have gotten curious about this corny snack mix you keep raving about.
    I MIGHT have headed to the grocery store at eleven o’clock to get said ingredients.
    I MIGHT have made it until 1 in the morning.
    It MIGHT be the best thing I’ve ever tasted.
    I WILL be blaming that for my holiday weight gain. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  15. Tabitha (From Single to Married) says:

    Hi – I just wanted to follow up and let you know that the book was a hit! We had done one of those questionnaires (what is your favorite color, what would you do with a million dollars, etc.) and had it published with a bunch of pictures of us growing up. It was great! My Mom cried, which is how we judge how much she likes it. 🙂

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