*8Things: Generous Gifts for Trying Times

8things from Magpie Girl

Today we found out some long-time friends of ours may have to leave their dream jobs in Thailand because the NPO they work for is out of funds. Their salary has been reduced by half these past few months, and with their savings depleted their only hope is to return to the States and look for work. Another friend is living with her in-laws, while a third has had to relying on his to help make ends meet. Still another had to take her child out of his beloved preschool because of financial strain.

Even when times are tight, there is part deep within us that longs to give presents to our loved ones. Not just because it is “the thing to do,” but because generosity is an impulse that cannot be denied – a part of our deep humanity. If we are made “in the image of God,” then perhaps generosity is a Divine attribute which longs to shine out from our core. If we are followers of the Light, then we can see this impulse as something which contributes to the glow we want to nurture in ourselves and others.

Even when times are trying, we want to give. So here are *8Things you can offer to someone you love. Many take little more than a piece of paper and postage stamp. All of them are simple enough that you can accomplish them without elaborate plans or loads of time. May one of these allow you to bless someone with your generous heart this season, and may abundance ride besides you every step of your journey.

Much Warmth,


  1. Sing me Song, Piano Man: Can you croon, strum, tap the keys? Give your loved ones the gift of a candle lit song this season.
  2. *8 Days A Week: Got 12 favorite quotes that inspire and sustain you? Write them on some nice paper and give someone as a year’s worth of encouragement.
  3. Stuck on You: Need a gift for a child? Got stickers floating around in your craft gear? Little one’s don’t mind if you snip off the used bits and give them an envelope full of extras. In fact, the LOVE it.
  4. I Hope You Don’t Mind, That I Put Down in Words: I have an envelope full of notes and printed-off emails from people who took the time to tell me true things about my life, my character, and my work. I need them to carry me through the dark. Give the gift of a letter. You never know how deeply it may matter.
  5. Brand New Day: Do you have some favorite tunes that help your day get off to a good start? Make a list (or a CD) for someone with all your favorite morning songs.
  6. No More Bread and Butter: I love discovering a new recipe! Write down a few of your specialties for your friends, or create a list of your favorite food blogs.
  7. Workin’ for a Living: Do you know someone who has a dreaded chore?  Maybe they hate washing their car, or don’t know a thing about mulching the garden. Personally, I hate polishing shoes.  Taking a chore off their to-do list would be a lovely gift.
  8. All I Ever Get for Christmas is Blue: Are the same cheesy Christmas songs driving you batty? Maybe they’re making your friend’s nuts too. Make ‘em a mixed tape of some not-so-traditional tunes. (Songs from Over the Rhine and Harp 46 are a nice start.)

What are your ideas for *8Things: Generous Gifts for Trying Times? Put on your thinking cap and give us your tips in the comments below, or grab a button and play along by putting your permalink in the list below.

Grow your gratitude. Live Satisfied. Join us on Facebook for our weekly *8things roundup.

Aimee Greeblemonkey December 10, 2009 at 4:38 am

OMG, I am too tired right now to try and post about this but I love all your ideas!!

Lee December 10, 2009 at 12:26 pm

What a wonderful list of ideas. Definitely going to give those some thought. My list is another topic entirely, but what I could manage today :) Enjoy your day!

Kristin T. (@kt_writes) December 10, 2009 at 5:30 pm

I love this Rachelle!

“Even when times are tight, there is part deep within us that longs to give presents to our loved ones. Not just because it is ‘the thing to do,’ but because generosity is an impulse that cannot be denied – a part of our deep humanity.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about gift giving, and why it’s such a heart-felt, important tradition in my family. Sometimes I feel guilty about it, like we’re focusing on the material, but there is SO much love behind the gifts my parents and brother give. My girls have that deep desire to give in them, too. We’ve been making many gifts and talking about money and budgets. Your post not only gives me more ideas, but also a powerful way to think about why we give.

Bethany December 10, 2009 at 11:01 pm

I love what you said about our deep desire to give being part of God’s image in us. “Extravagant generosity” is one of the clearest divine traits to me. That said, I also love your list and think it could not be more relevant right now with money tight and anxiety high around the world. The letter and CD ideas are already in the works, but I might have to add the candlelit tune to the mix — it sounds so creative and unexpectedly romantic. And I know two little girls who will do just about anything (except, er, use the potty) for stickers. :)

rowena December 11, 2009 at 12:07 am

These are great ideas. I’m still working out the magical not-about-money gifts, myself. But these are some good ideas.

One year I made a chap book of art and poetry for my family. That was unexpectedly expensive to print out though.

Monica December 11, 2009 at 2:18 am

this is a wonderful post! thanks for helping me transform my usual ‘Scroogi-ness’ during this time of year…you’ve written some lovely and thoughtful posts regarding this time of year.

1) i’m asking readers of my blog to let me know of their favorite charity and i will pick one by December 18 to donate $20 to –
2) i’m considering donating $ to the Fox Foundation on behalf of my boyfriend’s relative who was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s; i’m not sure how this gift will go over, but i like the idea!

here’s an idea that i do with a dear friend every year: we have a special “movie matinee” visit since she doesn’t go to many movies during the year and i show her highlights of fun movies/animation that she has missed out on and we have a great visit – we really look forward to it =-)

i love the idea of making cd’s of alternative holiday music – it’s a great idea!

Sam December 12, 2009 at 4:43 pm

Wow. Such an amazing insight, Rachelle! I think many of us struggle with this – I already wrote a whole post about it – with feeling like we give within reason and with love and how not to feel guilty about it. Knowing that we give as an extension of God’s spirit within us is a tremendous thought!

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: