I wish I had a direct line to my loved ones’ brains so I could know exactly what gifts would make them feel most loved and appreciated.

I’ve done a lot of thinking lately about gift giving in general, and how a meaningful gift can quite literally change someone’s life.

Wrapping paper from The House that Lars Built

When I think about the most memorable gifts I’ve received, the things that top my list are gifts of time. When a friend insisted that she babysit for us early this year so we could have our first date night in a long time after a hard season. When we got home from adopting Sarah and our church small group and my team had filled our kitchen with encouraging notes and groceries. And the time my friend Marcia wrote 30 prayers for me on separate notecards–one for each day in the final month I was writing Cultivate.

There have been physical gifts that meant a great deal too. Grace made me a little pink candle holder last year (melt my heart!), and I have felt such joy in receiving gifts for the garden. The women I work alongside gifted me a beautiful set of garden tools with my initials on them. I almost didn’t use them because they are so pretty, but they are happily covered in dirt now from many gardening adventures!

These are the gifts I remember and cherish.

I love the idea of wrapping spring bulbs in pretty fabric or paper! Source.

A timely gift, given with love, can change someone.

I want to be that kind of gift-giver.

But, I have to tell you that I sometimes feel inadequate when it comes to gift-giving.

I am not the best gift wrapper. (I have high hopes of improving my gift wrapping skills this year so I avoid getting added to this list. 🙂 )

I have often waited too long and had to make last-minute purchases.

And, because I want gifts to be meaningful, I often get stumped on what to give!

My garden-loving heart loves this simple wrapping with a sprig of peach buds!

I don’t want to gift people things that they won’t use, or surface gifts–things they might like for a moment but then forget about. I want to gift things that add meaning to people’s lives or bring them delight and refreshment. And I know this may sound strange at first, but I don’t want to give gifts that make people think about how great I am, but rather gifts that help them cultivate gratitude and celebration for their lives as a whole.

Do you have a list of gifts you are considering for friends and family this year? (Or perhaps a list of items you are wanting to invest in for yourself?)

What are you hoping to make people feel or experience in your gifting?

Early this year, we decided to curate an intentional gift list for the holidays, and we’re so excited to reveal it today!

Our first-ever Cultivate Gift Guide is a bit different from your average guide. It’s a curated list of meaningful gifts (starting at $0!). Our hope is that these gifts help you, and your loved ones, cultivate what matters.

Inside you’ll also get a preview of our biggest sale of the year that starts next Tuesday starting at 10 am ET. I’ve already talked to many of you who are excited that Write the Word will be in the sale this year!

Your turn! I’d love to hear: what are the most memorable gifts you’ve received? What gifts added value to your life and others?

P.S. Next up, I’ll be sharing the 20 things I invested in this year, both personally and for our business, that paid off. I can’t wait to share!

8 Show Comments
  1. Lara

    Last year, John took each boy shopping for Christmas gifts. Teddy spent half an hour smelling every candle at Walmart till he found “the one” to give me because he knows I love candles. It tickled my mama heart that he spent so much time trying to find just the right one. Seeing him becoming a thoughtful and observant young man is such a blessing and I’m so grateful <3

  2. Amy W

    One of the best gifts I’ve received is a coupon from my mother-in-law for unlimited babysitting for date nights (and she means it!!) along with a gift card to a restaurant for the first date. One year I made her a quilt for her bed that took forever (ha!) but it was definitely a labor of love. This year I’m doing gifts from local or small businesses (PowerSheets for my sister, a Motherhood devotional from a local business here, a shirt that says my temporary home Heb 13:14 that funds local ministries in our town, etc). And every year I️ give our sons matching LEGO sets that they build with their Dad over Christmas break. For any Mom I am doing a Shutterfly calendar for her of pictures of our kids from the year. And I️ like to give Shutterfly mugs from time to time for Grandpa or my husband with pictures of the kids.

  3. Sarah Ellen

    I love gifts of time doing something fun with people…that can range from a coffee date to a weekend away.

  4. Sarah

    After we had our twins, my parents grocery shopped –a fill-the-fridge shop, not just a few items — every time they visited. It was sometimes annoying at the time, because we like what we like and hormones made that fluctuate, but in retrospect it was THE BEST gift, both of time and money. It showed they cared. It gave us space and one less thing to worry about. It meant we had ample notice when they arrived because we’d inevitably get a call or text from the nearby grocery. And it really expressed their love not just for me as their daughter, but our new family.

    It’s now the thing that’s written down next to my name in our church women’s group’s service list. I will grocery shop for you. I have done it for new babies and injured friends. It’s only an added few minutes to my regular grocery trip, and a quick visit to drop them off, but I really do think it helps lift everyone!!

  5. Marcy

    I gave the renewal journal to a friend and loved the quality. I am purchasing two more for my sisters for Christmas! I’d like to buy the CULTIVATE PENS to give with them but can’t seem to find them. Are they no longer available? Thank you!

  6. Marcy

    I gave the renewal journal to a friend and loved the quality. I am purchasing two more for my sisters for Christmas! I’d like to buy the CULTIVATE PENS to give with them but can’t seem to find them. Are they no longer available? Thank you!

  7. Annabelle

    Thank you Lara. Always blessed by your words of wisdom and encouragement. I bought the Powersheets, your books and some accessories for the first time this year. So excited to use them this coming year! I hope you will be blessed as much as I am blessed through you.