"It's beginning to look a lot like CHRISTMAS!" is something that I have (annoyingly) been singing during each day in this last week of Advent.
The menus for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are finalized, food shopping is officially done, the Little Christmas Angel has been flying about the house, baby Jesus(s) have been wrapped and the box is under the tree, we know which Masses we are going to, Christmas cards have been sent, the tree is completely decorated and the stockings are all hung by the chimney with care. Okay, well, the stockings are just hanging on for dear life at this point, but still, Christmas is almost here!
Every item off our “Christmas To-Do List” has almost been checked off.
Ut-oh. Christmas gift shopping.
Before having our son, I had this Christmas gift shopping down pat. As a self proclaimed "Type A person" I would plan, buy, wrap, ribbon and be ready to put the gifts under the tree before the first Advent candle was even lit. Now, things are much different, and I've been struggling to make sure that a gift is accounted for everyone.
Most of our family and friends have agreed to forgo exchanging tangible gifts and to instead spend quality time together. Despite the fact that our gift lift was quite small this year, it has still been difficult to finish Christmas shopping.
Here are three ideas for last minute Christmas gifts:
1. Give Us This Day: Daily Prayer For Today's Catholic.
“Give Us This Day is a monthly publication centered on the Word of God. Drawing inspiration from a multitude of voices, it provides a relevant and trustworthy understanding of Scripture.” I was given a subscription to this monthly publication and it is one of the best gifts that I have ever received. Not only does the book come to me directly each month, but it is something that I can both start my day with and end my day with. The monthly books include profiles of holy people, readings and prayers for Mass, reflection on Scripture, morning and evening prayer, weekly insights and more.
2. Have a Mass celebrated for someone.
Having a Mass celebrated for someone can be done whether the person is Catholic or not. Contact a Catholic Church and request that a Mass is celebrated for your family member. Or, you could also have a Mass celebrated for that person’s deceased family member or for another special intention. It is customary to make a monetary donation to the Church when requesting to have a Mass celebrated. Bonus points if you and that person attend the Mass together!
3. Donate in lieu of a gift.
This is one of my favorite ways to give someone a gift. Donations in lieu of a gift can be made for Christmas, Easter, birthdays, anniversaries or really, any time. Giving a gift of charity lasts much longer than the holiday or celebration. Make sure that the charity you are donating to is a nonprofit registered by the Internal Revenue Service and that your donation is truly tax-deductible. While you could contact the charity and ask them directly, websites like Charity Navigator allow you to research charities to see how they rank, if there are any testimonials about their work and you may even be able to see tax forms if they’ve been uploaded. These tax forms will show you how much of the donations are spent on the actual cause and how much is spent on other expenses like salary, general operating costs, etc… The best part about websites like Charity Navigator is that they are free and easy to use. You may be surprised at what you find out about your favorite charity or you may be pleased with the findings.
If none of the gifts mentioned above tickle your fancy (where did that saying come from?!) you could always head over to your grocery or drugstore and pick up gift cards. I think most of us will agree that gift cards are wonderful and can easily fit into a Christmas card, hence no wrapping! Win win!
As we finish these last days of Advent, I am reminding myself to not stress about the little things like last minute gifts. Wont you join me in trying to remain as stress free as possible and to think of the real Gift of Christmas?
"...the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born Of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold."
I have been mediating on St. Andrew's Novena. For me, thinking especially of that most sacred image in that precious moment in time has allowed Christ's coming to the world to ease any burdens and keep me focused on the true meaning of Christmas.
So, whether you purchase a subscription to ‘Give us This Day’ or are grabbing several gift cards for family and friends, I hope you have a very Merry almost Christmas!
What are some of your favorite gifts to receive or give? Please share with us on Facebook.
As always, thank you for reading. God bless you and may the Blessed Virgin Mary be with you always!