About the Author

Robin is the author of For All Who Wander, her relatable memoir about wrestling with doubt that reads much like a conversation with a friend. She's as Southern as sugar-shocked tea, married to her college sweetheart, and has three children. An empty nester with a full life, she's determined to...

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  1. I feel gifts are very personal too. I try very hard to make them special (expensive isn’t necessary). I love giving treasured photos of the person I’m gifting (and THEY ALWAYS CHERISH THESE) or something else different than what anyone else would gift.

    Sharing a part of me….is special. Just as receiving is as well.

  2. robin…you speak to my heart again. growing up as an MK, my take on christmas feels so different. i sometimes feel i am choking on the excess and duty of it. i am speaking a different language with how i view gift giving especially with extended family. the lack of response if it wasn’t on a list or typical. i’ll admit i’ve given up a bit in recent years. i need to revisit that. i’m going to think about your invitation to write and see what comes to mind and heart. thank you dear. xo

    • ahhh, Kris…you’re welcome!

      Sometimes don’t we focus to our own detriment on what others will think? Like what we give isn’t good enough. Let’s put that one down for good, yes? 🙂

  3. This was a timely post Robin and one well expressed. My husband and I have often struggled with gift giving just for the sake of it or as you said ‘because a date on a calendar mandates it’. We didn’t have enough money the year we got married to buy each other a gift and that has become a wonderful tradition for the last 12 years of married life. We simply don’t buy gifts for each other for Christmas or birthdays or anniversaries… we give cards, we communicate, we go out for a meal and we LOVE it! It has not diminished the joy of the occasion, in fact, it’s enhanced it because there is no pressure to go out and purchase this one amazing gift that we will try to better each year. While we give our children gifts, we’re teaching them that cards and gifts created by them mean so much more to us. Right now we struggle with some of the ‘others’ in our life where we haven’t managed to do away with the obligation of gift giving at Christmas time and I’ve been praying hard about this. I think your post has strengthened my resolve to attempt a change in our circles for next Christmas. Thank you!

    • Amanda,

      I’M GONNA BE SO PROUD OF YOU IF YOU MAKE THIS CHANGE! Once it’s made…it’s made for good :). (No pressure, just wanting to be your personal cheerleader 🙂 ).

  4. Agreed. I struggle with all the Christmas gifts that I HAVE to give and would rather concentrate on the unexpected little gifts to give to people near and far that never saw it coming. 🙂

    But I must continue to do both, at least for now!
    Merry Christmas to you & yours Robin,
    Sherri

  5. One of my favorite things to do is to give a knit or crocheted item. Especially around the holidays when the temperatures drop, I like to make scarves and then give them to the first person who admires them (if they will accept.) I have given a piece of myself to them–some hours of my life and prayers for the eventual recipient while the work was in progress.

    A Blessed Christmas and New Year to all!

    • Jen,

      THAT gesture just gave me chills. If we ever meet, I’m admiring your scarf if I have to knock down the people around me to beat them ;).

      (ummm, I’m kidding. Mostly ;).)

  6. I loved this post.. I struggle with a best friend because every time I want to give him something I get in trouble for it… He doesnt like me to spend a dime on him and I love blessing him… it’s a struggle but I’m sharing this post with hopes he grabs a clue… thanks…

  7. oops I hit enter too soon… I make scarves and headbands knitted and crochet, this year Im giving my loved ones hand made gifts from me… because as I knit I pray a special blessing on the receiptient… that way every time its worn there will be a blessing…

  8. One of the things God has gifted me with is the ability to teach and to share His word with others. Last year I created a list of scriptures to be used with Hanukkah that all speak of Jesus–the True Gift of Light to the world. If you are interested in celebrating Hanukkah with your family and friends and would like a copy of these candle lighting scriptures please email me–heargodsheart@yahoo.com It is a gift to be able to share this with you.

  9. Oh I am terrible at DIY gifts! I cannot sew, crochet, craft…I can cook but I don’t do many things that can be presented as gifts. For Christmas we like to focus on how we can bless people. Is there something they need? Or something that would make them feel very loved? For example, my older brother and his wife have three kids but not a lot of money. For Christmas I like to get their kids all an outfit of nice, warm clothes. This year we got new coats for the two older ones. They have always been so grateful – they live up in the mountains where it gets really really cold, and kids are constantly growing as we all know! So that’s how we do Christmas. We love blessing people and remembering that it’s not about things we don’t need – it’s about showing love.

    • Perfect, Melissa. Showing love, EVEN if that means store-bought gifts. CLEARLY you have the means to bless that way, and your intention is just beautiful.

  10. Christmas can be challenging for us as my husband is one of six kids. We give family gifts — a basket for a meal (spaghetti sauce, noodles, cheese), or a jar of cookie mix with a wooden spoon and towel attached, or a soup mix.
    I love reading the ideas from others! Thanks for the post!

  11. Robin I agree that handmade gifts are the BEST! I love creating special things for friends and family. Another reason why I am addicted to Pinterest —more great ideas to try. I’m making my sister-in-law a memory quilt for Christmas. I also plan to have my niece and make her parents an ornament during our play date. I want to pass that tradition of creating down to my niece and nephew. Thank you for sharing the post – it brought a HUGE smile to my face.

  12. There was that JOY printable from the other day. I just framed one for myself and thought this would make a lovely Christmas or birthday gift for someone else. 🙂

  13. One of the most special gifts I received was from my grandma. She made me a ” This is your life” photo album. It had a lot of photos of different highlights of my life in it. It still remains one of my most cherished gifts ever.

    I made my grandma a memory jar. I made little tags that had memory after memory of all of our special times together, special things about her, ect. She loved the gift and pulled the tags out often to read them. This gift let her know how special she is to me and gave her much joy! Sometimes we forget, that the memory is what is special and remembering those memories brings back the joy of those special times together.

  14. My mom is 80. She doesn’t need a lot of “things”. And anything she does need or want, she just buys herself. Last year for Christmas I gave her the gift of me” once a month. I live about 100 miles away and with two kids don’t visit as often as I would like. So, my gift to her was to go see her 1 time per month (alone, during the time my kids are at school). It’s her choice to do whatever she wants that day. We usually go shopping and have lunch out. Every store we go into, she brags to the people working there about the gift that I’ve given her with my monthly visits that lasts all year! It makes her so happy to get the gift of Time Together! And we are creating memories I will have forever. Priceless!!!

    • Karen,

      My kids are 15, 18 and 20; in a few years, I’ll be empty nest. As a mom who LOVES her babies and likes them, too…I can see the WONDERFUL value in your precious gifts. I would love for any of them to give this to me in 10, 20 or 30 years. Time can be spent only once.

  15. Oh dear friend, this is why I love you so! Tonight I am speaking to a group of women, and I’m talking about this very thing–the gift that God gave, the sacrifice, was so great. Don’t we owe Him everything we have? And I’m using John 3:16, too! 🙂

  16. Hi Robin! This was such an encouragement to me, as I was praying for confirmation about a gift I’m making for a coworker’s birthday on Dec. 21st. I was starting to get “cold feet” about making it/giving it (my own insecurities, that God is dealing with/healing!) & reading your post today was the 2nd time in an hour that I received His confirmation! Thank you!

    Some Jesus-loving coworkers & I (we are few & far between where I work…it’s a very dark place!) have been especially praying for & sharing with one of our coworkers. He had shared with me, a few months ago, that his b’day is 12/21 & he’d be 45. One day, back in September, while simply doing the dishes & not particularly thinking of anything, a thought came to me…”why not make him a blessing box?”

    I didn’t even know what that was or meant, but as the Holy Spirit unfolded this, what it turned into is a box with 45 homemade little pieces of paper, each one unique & each one with a word on the front (e.g. “Courageous” or “Listener” or “Kind”) and on the back, a brief message of blessing re: this trait in our friend & a corresponding Scripture verse.

    A homemade card goes with it…more words…I have a thing for paint chip samples…I love color & some of the names of the paint chips were so cool, I used them to make a card…”Prince’s Robe,” “Glory,” “Jubilee,” “Tabernacle,” “Chivalrous” were among the names of the colors! 🙂

    If I knew how to add a photo, I’d post a picture of it.

    I appreciate your prayers for this…I’m still a bit nervous…but words can be such a blessing!!
    love,
    nina ruth 🙂

    • Nina Ruth,

      Well, hot diggidy dawg (should I say “glory!” instead??). That I was confirmation to you is blessing to me. THIS sounds like an amazingly special gift…and if you figure out how to share a picture, I’d love to see it :). xo

      • I don’t think this photo will come through, but I posted it to my blog, so you can click on it…I actually used an up-cycled Dayspring card in the collage! 🙂

        Thank you, Robin! You are wonderful!

  17. Thank you sooo very much on your wonderful thoughts of gift giving. To give or not to give, we GIVE because we ‘love’ to give, because our Savior LOVES & GIVES us the ‘desire’ to give to those we LOVE, & to those ‘who really have NEEDS’ !!!
    HIS Child – Toni

  18. My extended family likes to do the “exchange list of wants, shop for what they asked for then wrap & gift it”. I got really tired of just “doing their shopping” with no imagination so finally I broke from their routine. I’m the only one of 4 sisters not doing the group gift thing and actually I love it. Each year I think of something different for my sisters & their families. I’ve done holiday baskets with Italian cooking theme, a spa basked theme (body wash, fragrant candles, bubble bath, etc) and gift jars along with homemade ornaments. When I put the gifts together, I take time to pray over them for each person in the family. This part has especially been a blessing to me. Now I look forward to this time each year, and the prepping and praying over these special gifts.

  19. I’m not a gift person either. I am more time and service. I struggle with Christmas because I’m not a gift giver. I, too, find more meaning in the homemade from the heart gifts. My favorite gift as a child was a rag doll my mom made by hand for me.

  20. I bake all of my Christmas gifts. I do have to say, though, I buy those gifts for my husband and daughter (they don’t want the sugar). And, lest anyone think baking gifts is CHEAPER it is NOT – rather much more expensive. You have to want to give this way, and be willing to pay the price (literally!)

  21. I love that you give books with the margins all marked up! I tell my husband that I read best with a pen in my hand. I have made a conscious effort to stop doing that in books that I thought I might want to share with someone. It never occurred to me that my notes and thoughts and underlines might make it more precious to someone. Thanks so much for sharing. 🙂

  22. Last Christmas, fresh from the unexpected loss of my dad, and after a couple plane tickets, plus a car trip of 1200 miles with the family, we were short on cash and emotionally drained. So we decided to gift our parents with a blessing jar. My daughter and I hunted thrift stores and shops to find the perfect container for each person (old fashioned mason jar for my mom, pretty porcelain container with a lid for step-mom, etc.). I got the whole family involved (husband, three grown children and two in-laws) to write slips of paper for each of them listing many ways they had been blessed by them. We were able to stuff full each jar with many memories, character traits that we had seen in them, and any other thing we could think of. It took a bit of time, but very little money, and I hope it was a real blessing to them. They will be able to look through them at any point, and remember all that they are to us. I only wish I had done this before dad passed…

  23. One gift I’ve given to those hard-to-shop-for people who really don’t need anything is a gift of giving to World Vision’s Christmas catalog. I don’t have a huge budget so choosing to donate to one of the choices that is multiplied 11 times (often winter clothes for children in very cold climates who have none) by corporate donors. All the people I’ve donated in honor of have been so thrilled.
    Janet

  24. Working for minimum wage makes gift giving a challenge. I do buy some gifts already made in some cases and I confess I buy gift cards for my brother. All my other gifts are hand made. Each year I paint or cross stitch Christmas ornaments to give to each person on my list. Except for a few special pieces that have been given to me, I have made or painted all of my own Christmas decorations. I have close to 100 structures for my Christmas Village all of which I have bought and painted over the last 10 years.Part of the joy that I get each year comes from making each of these items for myself and for gifts. The most difficult gift I have ever made was a aphgan I made for my mom. It was double strand and used 20 sceins of yarn it weighed almost 20 pounds and took me 2 & 1/2 years to make.

  25. I LOVE LOVE LOVE to give gifts!! I love one’s that are complete surpises! I have two that I “gave” that are VERY memorable. A couple of years ago, for my parents who have everything and need NOTHING, we arranged for a photographer to come take our entire 15 member family’s picture. We are only all I the same place at the same time typically once year. My parents have these pictures everywhere and asked for this again!
    The other instance is one God laid specifically on my heart to “give”/ coordinate. When my oldest was in first grade, her teacher’s husband was stationed in Alaska and could not afford to come home. I began, at the beginning of the school year to plan with school officials and talk to him about brining him home for Christmas. We contacted all her former and current students and co-workers and asked for donations. The response was overwhelming. We arranged for him to fly home and she had NO CLUE! I arrived one day, just before chapel (getting him home required 4 flights and 24 hours). I picked him up and the media guy sent it up in the hall and recorded him like we were viewing over the Internet. While she was watching this taped message he slipped in behind her! It was the most fantastic “gift” I have ever been a part of!!! What we did not know at the time was that he would be sent to Afganastan within the next 6 months and be one of few who would make it home, but not without severe “battle scars”. Three years later this teacher thanked me with tears in her eyes, because it extended their time together in his “healthy” state that they would not have had otherwise. That is why I love this season! That was a gift that cost a lot but was worth FAR MORE than the high price tag!

  26. One year as a young college student away from home I joined a church college
    handbell choir. When Christmas rolled around the director gave each of us a little gift. Mine was 1/2 a chicken for those in needy countries. For me it is special because she cared enough to get us something and secondly it helped someone in need.

    In the past I have adopted people from local charities. Usually I would choose an older person. I remember getting one lady some hard candy, warm socks and some tea. It wasn’t much, but probably all she would be getting that year.

    This year my hubby and I adopted a Salvation Army child and bought a few gifts for them.

  27. I feel really bad that I missed this link up. I really wanted to share this gift I created for my friends and family this year. I know that the holidays are over now, but if anyone happens to come across this page and read these comments, here is the link to my blog post where I included the download for others print out and give to their friends. Merry Christmas! http://touchofsimple.com/2012/12/23/holiday-mash-up-of-sorts/