Nov 18, 2022

Holiday Gifts + Our Christmas This Year

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Grief is hard, friends! (I know, not your typical way to start a Gift Guide!) Well, it is. I don’t have lovely words to share about it, just what’s true: grief is hard and it hits me out of nowhere when I think I feel perfectly fine. But, as the song say, I get by with a little help from my friends. 🙂 Many friends have sent meaningful gifts in this season, a few of which I shared in my last post. I have a few more favorites that came to mind for you as you prepare your holiday shopping lists.

First, it’s worth noting we are doing the holidays differently this year. I pulled out all the stops last year with decorations and even won our neighborhood’s holiday lights contest. I surprised even myself with this win! Our kids were elated and it was great fun.

I don’t have the energy for all the lights and set up this year, though. My friend Shunta sent me a surprise box in the mail last week: this mug that reads “Honoring the Season I’m In.” Yes. Yes, I am. I am trying every day, and failing a lot, but trying nonetheless.

This episode of my friend Emily’s podcast resonated with me so deeply, I listened to it twice. This year we’re getting a smaller tree than usual and I’m going out on a limb with a new way of decorating, inspired by a story from our Advent reading last year. We’re going to try adding one ornament a day through December until we’ve hung just our favorites. When you go through significant loss (this could just be me), it makes you question why you do everything and choose to be more intentional.

We loved the Advent reading/listening we did last year and I can’t wait to do it again. The Messiah was my dad’s favorite, so this feels extra meaningful. We’re keeping decorations minimal: mistletoe in the kitchen, stockings, and our front door wreath. My brain and heart need space to acknowledge this hole without Dad here and without the usual things I’ve done as the new year approaches with work. We’ll still read our favorite holiday books (I will share a list with you soon) and listen to music, but I’m not making ornaments or cookies. I’m not making gift baskets or taking our kids to all the holiday things. We’re not traveling and I’m not making many plans in general. We’re keeping this time open and focused on connection. Most of my holiday boxes will stay tucked in the attic for a future year.

For gifts, we’re doing things differently, too. The kids want to make a small gift for each member of the family. This took little convincing somehow after losing my dad. It just felt right. We saw how much stuff we had to sort through and how what mattered most remained: love and memories. It may not be what we do forever, but it felt right for right now and everyone is dreaming and crafting. Making art is therapy in itself, and I’m excited about this myself.

“Making” a gift could mean cooking, singing, writing, painting, or any number of creative avenues. Since none of my kids use the internet, I can tell you what I’m planning: a puppet theatre. Ari is going to write a little play for the puppets, which will be fun. As for the kids, Josh wants a wood-whittling kit to make something for Grace. He and Grace decided secretly this morning that they are going to put together a Lego set for Sarah from the various Legos we have, complete with an instruction book and a box with a picture of their imagined creation on the top. Sarah is making storybooks for her siblings and Grace wants to make Josh a sword. You get the idea. They are all at ages where this is a satisfying endeavor.

I’m still purchasing traditional stocking stuffers (I love everything from this cute Etsy shop!) for everyone and Ari and I have some experience gifts for the kids like theater tickets and lessons. For my list of friends and other family members, my entrepreneur friends have made gifting easy with pre-packaged boxes, wrapping included, or lovely packaging. Some of these favorites will be familiar from Cultivate or Southern Weddings’ roots. I hope this helps you find what you’re looking for and honor the season you’re in:

You already know how much I love Shunta’s mug. She’ll help you honor the season you’re in with all of her intentional tools and community, too.

I told you about my friend Maaden’s new shop, Love Goods Co. I ordered all of the kids’ tutors and teachers holiday gift boxes and loved splurging on these for them. It’s a joy to support my friends and these gift boxes are well-deserved. Best of all, they are already in beautiful packaging. I’ll add a holiday card and voila!

Val’s Prayer Journals have been a long-time favorite to make each season more prayerful. If you’re hunting for a meaningful gift to help make prayer more consistent, you’ve found what you’re looking for. I’ve known Val since the first Making Things Happen Conference in 2009 and have been blessed by her friendship and real-life prayer. She practices what she preaches.

Another friend of both of ours, Gretchen, prayed me through so much of my dad’s last days and passing. Her wisdom and care are reflected in everything she makes. Her book is a treasure as well in any season. Gretchen and I share a love for zinnias and I have to mention Erin’s seeds. They aren’t on sale yet for the season, but get on Erin’s newsletter so you know when they are!

Ruth has said these truths to me more than once and I need these reminders always. Her art, her heart, and her generous love for people shine in the beautiful products she creates. Don’t miss her holiday ornaments!

I went to the Cultivate pop-up shop last weekend and purchased two of these for friends. I also bought a few sets of PowerSheets on launch day for friends, our babysitter, and an extra copy for each of my kiddos as a keepsake, since this was the last full collection I got to create. They are beautiful and I am excited to start mine soon.

Matching with Emily one day 🙂

My former coworkers gifted me a meaningful and beautiful pair of shoes when Cultivate was acquired back in July. With this generous gift came a note I will cherish forever along with Isaiah 52:7. The maker of these shoes is also a former coworker and editor from Southern Weddings, Lisa Kirk. Lisa following her dreams has been so encouraging to see and made this gift all the more meaningful. Any pair would make a special group gift or splurge for someone.

Speaking of Cultivate friends, Kaylee just launched a new collection with another Cultivate friend, Mackenzie. I got two pairs of earrings for friends and can’t wait to gift them.

I mentioned my love for Persnickety in my last post and succeeded in finishing my stocking stuffer hunt thanks to a couple more Cultivate friends, Irene and Julie!

I’m thankful to know such creative and loving women who pour their hearts into all they do. I’m also thankful they help me love others well in the process with these beautiful gifts. I’m sure I’m forgetting some, but I’ll call this a win for my first gift guide.

I’m cheering you on as you honor the season you’re in—doing decorations, gifts, and traditions in whatever way is meaningful for you this year. I’ll keep you posted on how our crafting goes!

What are you gifting this year? How are you doing the holidays? I’d love to hear.


10 Comments

  1. Em on November 18, 2022 at 7:19 pm

    So much to honor and mourn as we close out this year. You are doing it with intention and heart, as always!

    • Lara on November 21, 2022 at 4:49 pm

      Indeed and thank you. Grateful for you always.

  2. Brooke on November 18, 2022 at 8:37 pm

    Love hearing about your approach to this Christmas season this year. As you know, my family was/still is in in a deep season of grief/loss for very different reasons, but a lot of what you said here resonates. Prayers, friend. Hope to see you around town soon.
    PS Oh no! I missed the pop-up shop!

    • Lara on November 21, 2022 at 4:48 pm

      Ahhh friend. Thinking of you so much in these seasons of grief. Ari misses seeing you at the hospital, by the way. I hope we can get together soon!

  3. Lisa on November 20, 2022 at 2:18 pm

    Incredibly touched to be included in this thoughtful list–thank you! I have no doubt I was matching you and Emily from across town on the day that photo was snapped 🙂

    Keeping you all so close in prayer this Advent!

    • Lara on November 21, 2022 at 4:47 pm

      Thank you, friend. So grateful for you and my happy feet. So proud of you!

  4. Geomyra on November 21, 2022 at 5:23 pm

    Keeping you close to my heart and in my prayers this season, sweet friend! 💕🙏🏾

    • Lara on November 21, 2022 at 7:20 pm

      I am so thankful for you. All these years. God is good to bring you into the world and I am blessed by your friendship. Thank you, Geomyra.

  5. Shunta Grant on November 23, 2022 at 3:36 pm

    I love you! To pour out so much generosity in a time where you can easily and rightfully ask to focus on receiving and healing from grief, I am grateful for you friend! Here for you always.

  6. Val on November 23, 2022 at 10:56 pm

    Sweet friend, this post was so “warm” to read if that makes sense! You’re such a generous friend to cheer us all on. Love you!!

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