An Uncluttered Holiday Gift Guide

A gift guide? Really? This may seem a surprising post, given that I have a book on Christian simplicity coming out in February.

But here’s the thing: celebration is important and presents are often a part of that. They can communicate love and honor and thoughtfulness and care, much as the gifts of the Magi did when they greeted Jesus. They can meet genuine needs. They can bring joy.

The key is to give good, intentional gifts. Not just stuff-for-the-sake-of-stuff that will clutter up our lives and our shelves until we finally cart it off to Goodwill in 2023.

Here are three categories of gifts I recommend for those seeking a simpler life. [As always, I receive no money from this blog. Every product/place/site I recommend here only because I genuinely loved it myself!]

Give An Experience

Lessons: This is a great gift for kids. Lessons are expensive and add up quickly, especially with multiple children in a family. Each year my parents gift us lesson money to spend on the boys as best fit their needs and interests. (Felicity doesn’t need lessons in anything yet, except maybe sleeping for more than three hours at a time. Do they have lessons for that?)

We live in California, so swim lessons are a must. They are also eleventy billion dollars. So thankful for the gift of lesson $$ from family each Christmas!

Adults can benefit from lessons, too. Maybe you want to gift a series of lessons at a dance studio, a martial arts dojo, or a cooking club. Perhaps you’re an expert and want to offer lessons yourself–Daryl and I have benefited tremendously from the generosity of folks at church who’ve taught us everything from how to mix concrete to the world’s best gluten free bread recipe to backyard sprinkler repair. Lessons truly are a gift that keeps on giving.

An Outing: Does your friend love the theater? Does your spouse love college basketball? Does your dad love historical landmarks? Make an afternoon or an evening of it. Give tickets, plan dinner, go together.

Because you’re never too old or too young for Legoland.

If you’re gifting parents, take their kids on an outing and give them the blessing of an afternoon or evening alone in peace and quiet. An uninterrupted nap is one of the best gifts you can give to a mom or dad of youngsters.

Bodily Care: My parents are giving me the gift of a hair cut/color at a nice salon for Christmas this year. Like many moms, I have trouble spending money on myself, especially with a careful budget. But this is a gift – I can’t spend this money on anything but a new haircut. As I work myself back into postpartum shape, the prospect of feeling pretty and being pampered is a tremendous gift. I am sooooo excited.

Haircuts are just the start. You can give a gift card for a massage, a pedicure, an afternoon at the spa. Give a membership to that yoga class they’ve always wanted to join or a pass to that athletic club. Maybe they’d love to try that soccer league but there’s a steep entrance fee, or they need some new running shoes.

Give Consumables

Blank Books: My kids and I love writing stories. The kids come up with the tales and then we illustrate them together. These are great for a rainy or snowy day or – if you live in California like me – a day where it’s too hot or the air is too smokey to go outside.

I mean, how could this NOT brighten your day?

Flowers: Always good.

See’s Chocolates: 100% gluten free. 100% the best thing you’ll eat all year. They ship during cold weather months, and often offer free shipping, too. You’re welcome.

Baked Goods: Um, yum! Though do be sure to check for allergies or other food issues. There are few things sadder than giving a plate of cookies to someone who can’t indulge in them.

Art Supplies: My kids go through markers like they’re going out of style. I never, ever have enough journals. My husband has a love affair with dry erase markers. (He also loves obnoxious French pens – more about that in my book…) Art supplies wear out and get used up, so gifting these can be a great blessing.

Give Books or Devotionals

An Experiential Devotional to Knock Your Socks Off: Field Guides for the Way

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Photo from Field Guides for the Way. Used with permission.

Acorn Kit

This gentle, thoughtful, 5-day, hands-on devotional guide is for anyone who is good at doing but needs a bit of help sitting and reflecting and quietly praying. As someone who has spent a lot of time doing in-depth Bible studies, this was a breath of fresh air.

The biblical content is there, for sure, but there’s also encouragement to practice stillness before God, to listen to what God has been teaching, and to learn from a quieter, less frenetic pace. I loved my Acorn kit, and it led me to purchase an entire, year-long devotional package.

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Photo from Field Guides for the Way. Used with permission.

Winter Kit

This is a 20-day devotional focusing on rest. After the craziness of the holidays, who among us doesn’t need to slow down and listen to Jesus? Lovingly crafted, beautifully printed, and full of thoughtful prompts, Scripture, and gorgeous graphics, I love this guide.

Bonus: it ships in January, which is right when people will be ready to take a post-holiday breather and find Jesus in the stillness this guide offers.

If you’re interested in the Acorn Kit, the Winter Kit, or the other devotionals on the Field Guide site, the artists who’ve built it are offering my readers 10% off between now and Dec. 2. Just use the code ELLIS10 at checkout.

[And again – I receive no compensation for this recommendation or for any purchases of this kit. I just use them myself and think they’re really freaking great!]

Screen Shot 2018-08-07 at 10.24.32 AM

For Those Whose New Year’s Resolution Will Be To Get Organized: My book! (shameless plug alert…) Uncluttered: Free Your Space, Free Your Schedule, Free Your Soul. 

Available for preorder now. Ships to arrive on February 1, 2019.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? What are you most excited to give this year?

2 thoughts on “An Uncluttered Holiday Gift Guide

  1. I love your gift suggestions, Courtney, very thoughtful! I have used several of them in the past with great success. I also like Advent gifts like treating my family to the Family Advent Workshops or treating them to the PCOM Christmas Brunch and Boutique or the Dana Point Harbor Parade through MOPS. I think it begins to set the stage for Advent and resetting our souls towards God’s miraculous gift of Jesus! I also love giving books, Bibles (different versions), and I love the devotional books and books of healing for those in grief. So many ways to tell folks: I love you, I see you, and I think about the special person you are!!
    Keep being the special person you are and sharing your creativity with others — such a rich gift!!
    Love you, Jackie


  2. “The key is to give good, intentional gifts. Not just stuff-for-the-sake-of-stuff that will clutter up our lives and our shelves until we finally cart it off to Goodwill in 2023.” -YES!!! Could ramble. A close relative of mine – he may go several years without giving me anything, then I may get a clump of gifts one year. I am fine with this. If he sees something that he knows I’d really appreciate, he grabs it. If he does not, no gift. He doesn’t see the sense of “settling” for something in desperation, which will likely be clutter in my life. I hate clutter!
    Also, my family, in general goes with practical gifts – such as some ideas you mention. We also have no problem with acquiring gifts at thrift stores, garage sales. You can find nice things at very low cost. Anyways… my husband’s family is very much the opposite. So frustrating. A gift must be… extravagant, frivolous, etc. Something practical is not a gift but an insult. And a gift from the thrift store, even if nice and in great condition, horrors if they knew…


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