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We’re all in the same boat; Christmas Eve is around the corner, and work, family and community obligations mean that the lights still aren’t up, the decorations are still in boxes people are tripping over, and oh, yeah … you’re not making much headway with that shopping list.
Now, we at Aleteia certainly believe that shopping and material things are not the point of Christmas, and indeed, we think the best gift you can give anyone is the difficult (and therefore valuable) gift of presence — as in, being really present and attentive to the people you’re with, when you are with them — and the gift of prayer, at any and all times.
Still, some of you are looking to shop and stumped for ideas, right? The tradition of gift-giving reflects God’s own gift to us, in Christ. And it memorializes the generosity of saints throughout the ages. And besides … you remember how excited you were, when you got that Wooden Train Set that lasted you from toddlerhood until you finally stopped playing with action figures, way later than you’ll now admit? Yeah, we know. Our kids had Ninja Turtles using the train to save April, too.
So, to help you out, here follow some completely random gift ideas, from the spiritual to the unapologetically silly (and all available online) that we offer in hopes that they will help you get those stockings stuffed — in every age group — with as little stress as possible:
Have an infant on your list?Baby Einstein Take-along Tunes is a $5 gift that will make you a favorite auntie or uncle. A little pricier but also great: Munchkin Mozart Magic Cube. You can’t go wrong. And if they’re around 5 or so, does every gift have to be educational? No, but … why not?
One of our curly-haired editors, the mother of curly-headed kids, recommends this Bella Eleganze Hair Brush, which she promises makes quick work of tangles, without pain. Also, hair chalk. Because fun. And bath bombs. Because glorious.
You know someone who isn’t able to get out much, but likes to keep in touch with people? A quantity of postage stamps and an assortment of all-occasion greeting cards would be a most appreciated gift. Another great gift for the house-bound? a Round Window Bird Feeder. Bring the chickadees up close for them to watch. If you’re handy you could build one, probably.
Looking for a reasonably-priced gift that can’t fail to please a female? At about $10, these easy-to-pack-in-a-purse shawls are soft, light, incredibly warm and addictive. Yours truly owns these in a variety of colors, and always packs a spare in case a friend is feeling chilly. One of the all-time great gifts — for teachers, co-workers (a great Secret Santa gift). If you’re a young adult looking for a gift for Mom, this shawl is a winner, and you might throw this in, too. Judy Klein’s book will let her know that you know she is anxious for you.
Got a hard-to-buy-for car lover in the family? A bucket full of washing, waxing supplies is always good, and if he (or she) has that, they’ll probably fall in love with this buffing towel and with this car duster, too.
If the driver also spends some time commuting each day this travel coffee mug keeps a brew hot for hours.
Speaking of coffee, this isn’t some fancy, pricey brand, but this Mr. Coffee Cafe Latte is a perennial favorite to give (and to recommend) because it serves up the hot-and-frothy in a most satisfying way. Good for chai tea lattes and hot chocolates, too!
For the Terry Pratchett fan:The Compleat Ankh-Morpork, a street directory and showcase of Ankh-Morpork, complete with an incredible pull-out map. A surprising delight!
A fun family gift to be enjoyed by all ages? We recently declared that “The Trouble With Angels” still holds up, and the DVD is under $10. And a great family game? Spontuneous! is seriously fun for all ages. “Talent not required.” That helps!
One editor made a big hit last year by gifting a 12-year-old nephew with this Calligraphy instruction book (with pen, ink and nib assortment), while giving a less-challenging Art of Whimsical Lettering to her younger niece, along with a packet of chisel-tipped water markers to learn with.
Some more “crafty” gifts to keep people of all ages busy: A crewel kit needn’t be as ambitious as this one to get someone interested in needlecraft. An invention kit or a build-it-yourself inspiration board can both encourage designing minds, and if you remember this astonishing wind-driven strandbeest from a few months ago, well as they say… there’s a kit for that. A staff member recently gave it to an 80-year-old retired engineer, who loved it.
Speaking of training minds, daily prayer books — those books with little essays and scriptural prompts to use every day — are a great way to train the heart, mind, and soul to get into a habit of prayer. Lisa Hendey’s Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion is a great one, as is Fr. John Riccardo’s Heaven Starts Now, with reflections by that most excellent preacher. If you really want to knock someone out, Paul Thigpen’s A Year with Mary is a bounty of potent daily reading, bound in gilt-edged beauty that makes it a real “presentation” gift.
Need a gift for an engaged or newly-wed couple? Magnificat’s A Psalter for Couples is a typically gorgeous offering that helps to establish a habit of prayer that can become a great consolation in marriage.
This Saints coloring book for adults works for the older folks, especially when accompanied by these excellent colored pencils or gel pens.
“It’s you I like,” said Mr. Rogers. We like this tee shirt for a favorite person.
Someone on our staff wantsthis very cute hat. She is probably not going to get it. She might get the warm slippers, though. She hopes. Because her tootsies get cold sitting at a desk all day. Then again, there’s always this!
Hoping this has helped so that you will be able to stop thinking about that to-do list and slow down so you don’t miss Advent!