Gifts from the Heart

by dena on December 19, 2013


What I’m offering today isn’t anything new. Rather, you will find a sprinkling of ideas to spark your own creativity as you think of the dear ones on your gift list – at any time of the year.   hearts_purple blue_free pics

Whether you have very little money or plenty of it, thoughtfulness and simplicity are always in style.


  • Certificates
  • Photographs
  • Charitable Contributions
  • Miscellaneous
  • Made by Hand


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  •  Certificates

You can give a simple certificate for future favors or services you will provide. A few possibilities to jumpstart your mind are casseroles, babysitting, neck massage, gardening, unlimited hugs, cleaning, lawn mowing, snow shoveling. It can be something that is your specialty and/or something that is fairly easy for you yet much needed or desired by the recipient.

I knew a single mother who was ecstatic to receive certificates for foot massages from her kids.

When my husband and I were first married, we used to pick up house painting jobs to make ends meet. Because we were doing this and we didn’t have much money and we had all the tools, we gave certificates for painting to my parents, his father, and my aunt. We painted my parents’ guest bath pastel peach, Aunt Kiddy’s bedroom Williamsburg blue, and white trim on my father-in-law’s porch.


  • Photographs

Photographs are often treasured. They might have been taken last week. They might be from 20 or 65 or even 100 years ago. If you don’t have a scanner or other equipment to copy pictures, office supply stores like Staples offer these kinds of services for moderate costs.

Suggestion: If you are planning to give 1 or more photos to someone, it might be best to get a 4×6″ copy and place it on the first page of a little photo booklet – – often found for $1 or less. If you give the picture in a frame, your recipient might feel obligated to display the photo. (If they want to exhibit it, they can put it in a 4×6″ frame or ask you for a copy of the file or for a larger print of it.)

Another thought: You might ask someone close to you if their gift to you could be scanning a bunch of your family’s old (or not so old) pictures.

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  • Charitable Contributions

A contribution can be made in honor of your giftee. You might give a note or card letting the person know that a donation was made in their name. The amount is not listed. Some charities will send a notification directly to the one you are honoring. You can include a small brochure and/or web site address that briefly and clearly describes the essence of what they do.

You can donate a few dollars and make a big difference. Contribute what you can. Please remind yourself you can give even if your check is less than $1,000 or $100 or even $10.  Also, if you tithe, contributions can be part of your tithing.

The organization can be their or your favorite charity, or one you just heard about from a friend.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Spectrum Support, Inc. – – is a nonprofit my late husband and I founded nearly 25 years ago. People with developmental disabilities receive acceptance and customized services to live enriched and productive lives in the communities of their choosing.

Charity Water –– is a nonprofit, that is “on a mission to bring clean and safe drinking water to every person on the planet. Join us.” I heard about them earlier this year via Courtney Carver’s blog Be More With Less. To celebrate her birthday, she invited people to give to Charity Water rather than have traditional presents, cake, or other celebrations. What a brilliant and worthwhile idea!

University of the Cumberlands, in Williamsburg, Kentucky – – was my mama’s favorite charitable organization. It spoke to her heart that this college offers scholarships to Appalachian young people who would not otherwise have a chance at higher education. I realize all the gifts she gave there – and all she nudged her friends to give – were part of her legacy. She was also impressed that acknowledgement letters were sent the day a check was received.


  • Miscellaneous

Greeting cards – My mother frequently sent cards to the people in her life. At some point, it occurred to me that a gift I could include at every birthday and holiday was an assortment of pretty cards. If a person close to you likes to send cards, you could buy several get well, thinking of you, maybe even birthday cards (hint: some of the dollar stores have very nice cards, either $1 each, or 2 for $1 – – the same kind that can be $4.99+ in other shops).


  • Made by Hand

The list of potential hand crafted gifts is enormous. Your skill level and expertise will come into play in terms of what you are able to make. Today, I am offering a very simple project that calls forth your ingenuity and what you know about the person who will receive your gift. I call it a Blissings Bag.

Blissings Bag – On little pieces of paper, you write wishes, thank-you’s, compliments, and/or comments of support that are specific to the person. You can place these in a small jar, box, cloth bag, pouch, envelope, or other container. You decide if and how you want to decorate the container. Affix a tag or label inviting the person to pull out a message daily or whenever they want, then put it back in to recycle it. Call the gift whatever you choose (i.e., Inspirations, Blissings, Blessings, Sparklers, Love Notes, Creative Jumpstarts). You might even suggest the recipient can add even more messages.

The Arts – Create a poem, a song, a drawing, a dance, OR perform a poem, song, or dance someone else created.

Nine months after my husband died, a close friend changed the words to a familiar children’s holiday song to express my husband’s attributes. I laughed and cried at the same time, it tickled and touched me every time I looked at it. I still treasure this gift eleven years later.

I recall reading of a group of friends who had a tradition of having a holiday gathering during which they shared their gifts. In their case, the gifts were all intangible – – they performed their own and others’ works of music, dance, poetry, and prose.

Imagine beginning such a tradition with people in our own lives. These are truly gifts from the heart.

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It would be fun to add to this modest list. You are invited to  share your own practices, ideas, and stories of gifts from the heart.

heart n water ripple


Blissings, Dena

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