Dec 12

11th Day of Christmas with Ruth Soukup {Living Well. Spending Less.}

chaos.calm From unrealistic expectations to traditions to your screaming schedule as well as those annual holiday encounters with the in-laws and outlaws, this free 5 Day challenge will allow your holidays to go from chaos to calm. Click HERE for the free 5 Day Challenge and they will automatically come to your inbox. Merry Christmas!

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IMPORTANT NOTE: Remember you may comment to win on all of the 12 Days of Christmas posts until Sunday night, December 15th at midnight EST so be sure to read through those you missed and catch up!

Welcome to the 11th Day of Christmas with my friend Ruth Soukup from Living Well. Spending Less.

Ruth_Profile_2013_Small Ruth is a writer, photographer, entrepreneur, wannabe DiYer, semi-frazzled mom to two beautiful girls,wife to her wonderful husband of eight years, and, above all, a child of a loving and gracious God. Her passion is her family, and creating a home filled with joy and purpose. She started writing Living Well Spending Less in July 2010 because her spending habits had become so out-of-control that her marriage was on the brink of collapse.  She needed to find a way to hold herself accountable, and writing about the challenge of living well on a budget helped.

Now, meet Ruth!

Our Favorite Christmas Traditions

When my husband and I first got married we talked a lot about how we wanted to create special Christmas traditions for our children.  He had grown up in a family with lots of traditions, while my own family seemed to do something new (though equally chaotic) each year.  It was important to me to give our kids the stability my own childhood had lacked, and it was important to both of us to create memories that they would cherish for a lifetime, as well as to teach our kids that Christmas is about something more than presents.

Our_Favorite_Holiday_Traditions Our first year together, my husband gave me a beautiful hand-blown glass ornament and said, “we should do this for our kids each year, so that by the time they are ready for a tree of their own they will have their own special collection to start with.”  We have had so much fun each year picking out the ornaments that most represent an important milestone or passion from that year, and each year when we decorate our tree, the best part is opening the box of “special” ornaments and reminiscing over the years past.

We’ve added other special family traditions to our holiday lineup, including everything from a special Advent calendar filled with treats & treasures, collecting items to fill our Operation Christmas Child boxes, buying gifts for the local “angel” tree, eating Dutch Babies on Christmas morning, and ringing the Salvation Army bell outside the local Publix.

However, our very favorite tradition of all is delivering freshly baked & decorated cookies to the local fire station on Christmas Eve.  We’ve done this since our youngest was just a baby, and every year we stop by on our way home from church to hand out cookies and tell the firemen thank you for working to keep us safe when the rest of us get to be home with our families.

It is a very simple gesture, one that requires so little time or effort on our part, and yet those firemen are always so kind and appreciative.  In years past they have even treated us to a tour of the fire station and let the kids explore the engines and try on gear.  Honestly, I think we get far more out of it then the firemen do!

HolidayTraditions02 There is a lot that we won’t do this year.   We won’t go see the Nutcracker or any other holiday show that one of our children is not performing in, and we won’t give either of our kids a pile of the latest must-have toys.  Our Elf on the Shelf won’t be the main character in a new elaborate scene each day—she’s happy enough just to remember to move to a new spot before the kids wake up—and I’m pretty sure our Christmas dinner will consist of frozen pizza and leftovers.

But that’s okay.  We’ve realized that it is easier to say no to the things that don’t matter—or to give ourselves grace for serving pizza for Christmas dinner—because ultimately it is the traditions and the love that gets remembered far after the holidays have come and gone.  Our simple family traditions remind us that the joy of Christmas comes not from the gifts we receive, but from the one precious Gift we have all been given.

For us that is the best Tradition of all.

TODAY’S GIVEAWAY:

Ruth is giving away a $50 Amazon gift card to one of you!!! To enter, simply leave us a comment with who you and your family or friends could bless at the holidays. One of my favorites was the year we gave the hard-working, mentally-challenge man at Target who rounds up all the shopping carts out in the snowy parking lot a twenty dollar bill on Christmas Eve. we told him it always inspires us what a hard worker and friendly person he is.

Now, your turn. Any ideas?

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Comments

  1. Susie Daggett says:

    Our friend Mark

  2. We are hoping to go to the long term care facility in town and give flowers to some lonely elderly people.

  3. Erin Hoekstra says:

    We give food to Redlands Family services and I bake cookies and put them in the mailbox for our mailman.

  4. We go caroling and hand out presents at our local Nursing Home.

  5. Today, when our garbage man drove up to empty the dumpster, I thought he’d be someone I could bless with a thank-you gift! It’s zero degrees outside and he works hard while I’m indoors!!

  6. I love to bake cookies for those who don’t get to do much baking.

  7. We are joining up with a team of folks to provide Christmas for a family with 15 children (most adopted with special needs). They lost their family business this year and have already told the children there will be no Christmas gifts this year. We’d like to change that a little bit for them!

  8. There are a lot of poor families who beg on the street corners not to far from our home. We would like to buy small gifts for the children and pack a bag of staple food items to give to those families.

  9. Our son was born 10 weeks premature in 2011. We are planning to bring breakfast to the families who have babies in the NICU on Christmas Day.

  10. Cookies for the hard workers at Animal Humane

  11. We moved a few months ago so don’t really know anyone here yet but would be fun to do a random act of kindness and bless someone we see while out shopping, I think.

  12. Kristin Musacchio says:

    We would love to help out some military friends who can’t afford to go home for Christmas this year.

  13. We would make a food pantry donation to our local crisis pregnancy center and also give them some cash toward special needs. Our local crisis pregnancy center is really struggling right now and so we would also commit to praying for them as a whole family.

  14. We’re going to make cookies for our neighbors. We are also buying gifts for a boy at my kids’ school.

  15. Melody Byrum says:

    We took two angels off the angel tree at my husbands job and while we don’t have a lot of extra money, we will give what we can to these two small children who need a Christmas. My son is 18 months and won’t understand, but his sister is 9 years old and she sees us do it every year. She loves helping pick out clothes and gifts for the children and personalizing them.

  16. Each year our family picks gifts from the World Vision Gift Catalog as our big Christmas gifts to each other.

  17. I am going to go serve at our bread basket outreach this weekend.

  18. I have to think on this question a bit more but I do think of some children who have little or nothing and I’d like to get my family involved with buying for them. We did do the shoe box gifts and are giving food to a food pantry. I also have let my son put money in the red salvation army bucket-simple and easy but each of the things mentioned blesses someone.

  19. My husband has 2 men that work for him and we are buying Christmas presents for their 5 children.

  20. This year I will have a quet Christmas bt I kno there are always people who have less than I do so i will search them it.

  21. I just remembered a family at my church who has adopted multiple children in addition to their own. In November they were able to adopt a young girl and I’d like to bless her and her siblings with something fun this Christmasvl and have my boys involved in the giving and buying.

  22. We invite people who might not have a place to go to our Happy Birthday Jesus party on Christmas eve after church, and our Christmas Family Date Day is this Friday. We always take the day and spend together and do some sort of service project. I think this year we’re going to make blessing bags to pass out to homeless we might see throughout the day.

  23. Since we won’t have a family gathering as such I’d like to cook up a hot meal and find some homeless people to deliver it to on Christmas morning and then spend the day with my 73 yr old parents so they won’t be alone. I’m also blessed that my 5 yr old son wanted to buy toy cars with his own money to give to some boys whose house burned down this past November.

  24. This year our family picked a name off the tree at church and went Christmas shopping TOGETHER. We then brought the gifts home and wrapped them. It was a treat to watch my boys shop for someone else and get along in the process.

  25. Cindy Smith says:

    We are using the idea of the shoe box for operation Christmas child and packing up shoe boxes for children for our church’s food pantry for them to hand out to the families on Christmas Eve day.

  26. Homemade cookies for the neighbors.

  27. Jodi Howell says:

    We have several “free” shops around town that we give donations regularly too, but I have searching for something we could do that wasn’t just another chore for mom to do. We did shoe boxes this year and they seemed to like that. I am hoping we can figure something out so we can help them focus on others.

  28. I have 2 special gifts I want to give from the Samaritan’s Purse Christmas catalog – a cleft lip & palate repair (this has been on my heart for a long time) and possibly also a goat (if the Lord confirms this to me). Merry Christmas!

  29. Stephanie Cohrac says:

    This year we are going to Make a goodie plate for our single neighbor. She has no family here and is super sweet! My hubby has already shoveled her walk way and we decided we are going to invite her to our lil family Christmas dinner :-)

  30. Cammi waggoner says:

    This year we helped out our family with a giftcard so they can get their grandkids a present for christmas.

  31. I’d like to bless a couple single parents this year….. my mom was a single parent most of my childhood, I remember how hard she worked to make sure we had all we needed and wanted!!

  32. Marianne Gill says:

    Hoping to bless someone by giving to our church’s crisis pregnancy center. I always like to give this donation before the year is up in hopes of saving precious babies from abortion :-)

  33. We give to needy families in our communitiy

  34. Michelle Breon says:

    My friend’s one-year-old has a rare disease and the medical bills are overwhelming. We are contributing to her fund this year.

  35. Donna Larue says:

    We always choose an angel off the tree at my husband’s school, where he teaches. It is always fun to buy for that child and imagine the joy on their face!

  36. Melissa Barnes says:

    We always choose a family or an angel from the angel tree to help but the year that stands out is when a friend of mine was having a hard year, I found out that all of her Christmas presents for everyone, including her kids was on lay-away at our local wal-mart. I went in and paid all but a penny, as they told me something had to be left to hold the items. Telling no one but my mother. To this day, she stills talks about that person that make her life easier when she thought the world no longer cared. That is what God did for us in giving his son so that we may live to make other lives a little better. Merry Chirstmas!

  37. My heart is overflowing…my little group of girls at church have been baking and baking making boxes of cookie delights and we have been dumbfounded as whom to give them to- as I read your words it HIT me {thank You, Holy Spirit} there are two gentlemen with their own very obvious physical struggles that I do not know their names, but we speak pleasantries to each other when we see each other out in town- YES< YES< YES!!! Thank you! :)

  38. our 42 year old cousin who was diagnosed with cancer this week

  39. We always give food items to the church Christmas baskets and to our neighbor.

  40. Since having our daughter I have tried different things each Christmas, but have kept the traditions of a Christmas Tree and doing an Advent calendar. For the last couple years, we have made cookies for our neighbors, like snickerdoodles. Still trying to have our own family tradition of the Christmas Story on Christmas Day.

  41. Every year, we participate in Operation Christmas Child. I head it up at my church, and my mom and daughter help.

  42. I would like to give a gift of baked goods to the workers at a local animal shelter. My son visits there often to walk and talk to the dogs, and I think this would bless him immensely as well. xoxo

  43. Renee Holly says:

    Over the years our family has enjoyed taking fresh cinnamon rolls to the police station and fire department with a thank you Christmas card for all they do and for working that day. We also enjoy caroling and taking homemade ornaments to the local nursing home. This year there are changes here. None if our children will be home for Christmas so we are starting new traditions. I am excited to bless a family in need. Merry Christmas

  44. We do random acts the month of December. We buy the meal of someone behind us
    In drive threws, we leave money at the starbucks counters with instructions of paying for those that
    Come after us until the money is gone. We even save our change all year long and donate it to a charity
    We all agree upon.

  45. Chelsie Daughtry says:

    Every year we bake bread for our neighbors and give angel tree gifts as a family

  46. Our neighbors that have 3 girls and they are struggling right now.

  47. Cheryl Kennedy says:

    It’s our tradition to buy gifts for angel tree recipients, and we do several shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. Also contribute to Compassion through their gift catalog – by making donations in honor of family members.

  48. We buy gifts for an Angel tree child.

  49. I usually try to think how I can bless homeless people. We have quite a big problem with them- lots of them in the streets…and it is even sadder when it gets cold, like now, and they sleep on the streets or beg on their knees all day sitting on the ground. So whenever I can I try to extend a hand to them with something God has blessed me with too (sometimes I give a bit of money, but I really prefer to give them warm food, etc.)

  50. Amy Charbonneau says:

    Our friends who recently became unemployed.

  51. One year I took a ‘slower’ individual to our local consignment and helped her pick out some new outfits. Even though we were purchasing ‘used’ clothes she felt so special. We were able to buy more than if I had gotten her a new outfit.

  52. Tiffany Light says:

    Our church always goes above and beyond the call of duty to help during the Christmas season. Last year we raised bicycles for the homeless people in downtown Nashville. It was a blessing to see them receive the bikes with tears in their eyes.

  53. I haven’t done it yet, but plan to give money and a card to several of the homeless men I see every day on my commute to work.

  54. My daughter’s girl scout troop is helping a girl who’s family lost their home due to a fire. They lost everything. Very cool to see them picking out things to buy for her. clothes, jacket, shoes, etc. That is what the season is about.

  55. I know there are always specific things the local food pantry is short on – so we can call them and see what is on their wish list. Also, diapers are always needed at the pregnancy center, so that’s an easy thing to give!

  56. We bought gifts for children on the Angel tree this year, both at my office and at school.

  57. We like to bless our mailman with treats, our garbage collector with a gift card and homemade cards of gratitude and the picu nurses where our daughter stayed after a severe accident with ornaments each year.

  58. We adopted a family from the homeless shelter. I took my 11year old with me to the shelter to get ideas. We ended up at the men’s shelter first, and they were gathered to eat dinner. We then made it to the women’s and children’s shelter, and we saw them making dinner through the open windows…real moms with real children just like him. I asked him what he thought of what he saw, and he said “Mom, there’s just no words.” . I was thrilled with how the Lord spoke to my children’s hearts through this experience.

  59. Debbie Campbell says:

    Last year my Dad was in Hospice. I made a basketfull of lotions and lipbalms to the nurses that work there. They were so nice there to my family. The nurses there are angels! Although all nurses are wonderful…I think you have to be someone special to work in Hospice.
    This year I have a box of puzzles that I am taking a nursing home. I know that they like to have crafts and puzzles, so I have a box for them this year!

  60. When you attend concerts with family and friends during the Christmas season you may want to share this Christmas joy with people who might not be able to attend concerts or other Christmas events because they are physically disabled and not able to get there on their own or due to finances or other life events that prevent their participation. It is a joyful way to share the gospel which is the reason Christ was born!

  61. We are making cookies for the foster families Christmas (free) shopping afternoon. The foster children can pick out gifts for their foster families, and it helps the foster parents with some gifts for the kids.

  62. Our postal carrier and a single mom of a teen that is struggling.

  63. We love doing operation christmas child, donating to St. Jude, and angel tree. I have a heart for kids who don’t have much and have cancer.

  64. We have a relatively small church (but growing – praise God) and there are about six women who volunteer to work in the church office throughout the year, so I’m going to donate to the special collection to bless these ladies for their marvelous gifts of time and talents. I’d also like to donate a gift for the angel tree.

  65. Our church is expanding their Helping Hands outreach to the community so we are working to help supply the practical resources they need to reach the hearts of the people.

  66. We are caroling at a retitement home. They love having children come and sing. :-) also I’m leaving little treats on shopping carts and to cashiers. I’ve started looking for frazzled people in the store to see if I can help them. I helped a man pick out Christmas decorations for his office at lowes. He was so grateful. Love spreading Christmas cheer!

  67. a widow across the street with 2 small kids

  68. We give gifts to nursing home residents.

  69. We will give a gift to a child in need of the wishlist tree. I am hoping to encourage our extended family and our immediate family to adopt a family next year and give us and our daughter less.

  70. We will be helping a church that burned and had a food pantry. We’ll be contribute some food so they can continue to do their minsitry.

  71. We love to do things anonymously…pay for the next person in line at the coffee shop drive-thru…leave an extra big tip for a waitress…etc. One of our favorite things was paying the check for a table full of military guys at a restaurant. Our waitress was thrilled when we asked her to let us pay their check, but to not say anything to them until we’d left.

  72. We give gifts to Operation CHristmas Child and let each of our children pick a tag from our Angel Tree at church. We try to get all of us to feed the homeless (an organized church event every month) if we are not serving at church that morning.

  73. We are having a young girl over to our home for Christmas Eve dinner and church. Her mom struggles and also works that night. She loves coming to church with us and we love spending time with her.

  74. Kim Montaini says:

    My favorite blessing tradition we started last year. My close friends decided that instead of buying each other items (as we’ve done in years past) we’d go out to Wal-Mart and R.A.C.K others. R.A.C.K. = Random Acts of Christmas Kindness. We took them money we would normally spend as $10 and $20′s onto a little card which said “You’ve been RACK’ed so please use this money as you see fit for Christmas”… we then ran around Wal-Mart passing out these cards with money attached to people shopping. We left there more blessed, warm, and happy than any gift we could have bought and exchanged. It will become a yearly event for us now!!!

  75. michelle h says:

    my colleagues who don’t know the reason we celebrate!

  76. This year, we plan to drive 75 miles to pick up an older second cousin who is widowed and bring her to our house for Christmas dinner. After dinner, we will take her home. I do not want her to spend the day alone. She is unable to drive, so we decided to go get her.

  77. My dad, who has come to live with us because he is at the end of his life. He’s dying from complications from a number of things, and not having seen him for years, not having grown up with him, I want to show him what a real Christmas means. I want to bless him with Christ’s love and give him the best memory ever, because this is looking to be his last Christmas.

  78. We’ve been buying ornaments for our children for years now, as well! It’s so fun to pick an ornament that represents something they’ve accomplished or done the previous year. We can’t wait to try your Dutch Babies on Christmas morning!

  79. We purchased toys for the children of a family in need in our community. My 12 year old and her cousin enjoyed selecting a toy for each child. We also chose a bedtime story book as a gift for the whole family.

  80. Jessica Allen says:

    One year we blessed the very pregnant waitress at a place we frequented quite often. This year, there is a family in our church that is on my heart. The dad was just recently laid off and we know that times are tough for them.

  81. Deborah Heath says:

    I’ve been spending the entire season doing random acts of kindness as the opportunity has arisen. We will be spending Christmas week in a military town so I plan to look for opportunities to bless as many servicemen & women as I possibly can.

  82. We always participate with a local children’s ministry that provides Christmas Day presents and groceries for needy children. We also try to help someone less fortunate than us with Christmas!

  83. We bless our neighbours with a box of Christmas cookies and a card and hand deliver them!!

  84. Katie Thieman says:

    We go caroling and visit with folks at our local convalescent homes with my daughters American Heritage Girls Troop. Maybe this year we will make a special gift or homemade cookies for the caring wonderful staff at these facilities. Thanks for these ideas!

  85. Our neighbor’s who have been helping us out during a health issue.

  86. Nancy Silvers (OBS Small Group Leader) says:

    This year I am a hospice volunteer and I am planning to make my patient and his wife some Christmas goodies. I also plan to bless others with baked goods too.

  87. Janet Worthy says:

    I’ve helped sponsor (financially:) several ladies who have gotten together and made 105 lap blankets to be given out, one to each resident of a local nursing home!

  88. Sandi Colwell says:

    Our family has sponsored a boy and girl this Christmas and we are purchasing some much needed clothing items for them. We also make and deliver fudge to our neighbors each year.

  89. RUF pastors at our local college campus who are expecting their first baby in February.

  90. Barbara Kristin says:

    My dad’s roommate in rehab. Thomas.

  91. mine is going to sound so shallow after everyone else’s, everyone seems to have traditions about helping others ):
    But it’s the best tradition my family has. Each Christmas instead of purchasing gifts for everyone, we do “wrap the crap”. What you do is find an item in your house that you don’t have any use for or don’t like, and you wrap it up! (nothing horrible used up like a half burned candle or anything). When Christmas comes around everyone would pick a number out of a hat and the person with the number 1 would go first and select a random gift from under the tree. They would then unwrap it and everyone would bask in the glory of this (probably) horrible item, and then the next person would go. Well the first year we did this in our family, someone wrapped up this horrible looking rooster. It was about 2 ft high and very feathery. This poor rooster has been a “wrap the crap:” gift every year. And every year someone has done something different with the rooster. I think now he’s been split up into 5 different pieces, but he shows up every year for Christmas. It’s a big joke as to who will end up with it this year!

    • oops i was writing an answer to what Ruth wrote on facebook. So disregard that! no wonder i thought i was so shallow!!!
      Usually my family gives gift cards or cookies to the USPS, UPS, FEDex, and Waste Management workers.

  92. We have a family in our church with 4 kids and currently mom and dad are unemployed. They are okay with not giving their kids tons of stuff. (They think they should be happy with what they have.) But I’m sure they’d be blessed to be able to surprise their kids.

  93. We try to give to someone who is going through a hard time. This year it’s our friend, Esther. A few years ago her husband passed away. Then she had to have a hip replacement, and while she was in rehab from that, she lost her home and all her possessions. She is just now finally going to have her own apartment again, so we are gathering items to help her and give her a merry Christmas in her new home.

  94. I’ve been looking for some traditions to start with my husband (our first married christmas this year). I am in love with the idea of dropping cookies off to the fire station. Cookie are a big deal in our family. In memory of my mother about 10-15 members of our family get together one day a year and bake our butts off for 12 hours at least. My goal is to donate those cookies to some hard workers this year and keep that going every year.

  95. Jennifer Rae says:

    This year we are helping a missionary family go on a vacation together.

  96. I am blessed to work with members of the senior community as part of my job. I know all too well that many of these individuals are isolated and will not be leaving their homes this holiday season, or sadder yet, having friends and family call on them. I have a unique opportunity to spread Christmas cheer all month long by bringing a small plate of old-fashioned, homemade holiday treats whipped up in my own kitchen. I focus on crafting goodies that were popular during my senior’s young years. I can’t begin to count the number of times a grin, filled with a child’s joy, spreads across their faces from this simple act. Whether a certain cookie or candy brings about a long-forgotten holiday memory or whether it comes from knowing someone remembered them this time of year doesn’t matter. What matters is the ability to spread even the smallest amount of joy to a population that far too often goes unnoticed in today’s hustle and bustle. It only take a moment to stop by an elderly neighbor’s home with a little bit of Christmas cheer. I encourage everyone to take time out of their busy lives to spread the warmth of the season!

  97. There are several things that make our Christmas traditions complete. A local church has the Christmas Journey, which is not only a live nativity, but depicts the life, death & resurrection of Christ. We love buying for our Christmas Angel. And I love Christmas Eve service. Our family celebrates on Christmas Eve. I work most Christmas Days as an RN, since my child is grown and many of my coworkers have little ones.

  98. We are living in Peru right now and there is no shortage of people who have far less material possessions than the average American.

  99. We are going to visit a friend who became a widow a couple of months ago.

  100. Hockley County Food Box and Outreach

  101. I’d like to leave something nice for our mail carrier and paper delivery person.

  102. The birthfamilies of our two precious children, adopted in Russia. We have been so blessed to find them and share our lives together!

  103. Nurses at the hospital. We will bake them cookies.

  104. In years past we have paid for the additional milk served during snack time for a couple of needy children at our elementary school. They don’t know who we are and we don’t know who they are.

  105. Donating to our local library programs

  106. One of my daughter’s friends had grew up at her grandmother’s house who was Jehovah Witness. She finally got live with her dad and he would allow her to celebrate Christmas. We decided to do the 12 days of Christmas and leave gifts every day on her porch for 12 days and on the last day, we would reveal our identity. She was so excited and would come to school every day and tell about her gifts. E en her step mom would post about it on Facebook. We shared Christ with her but she was so hurt from the years of being she said brainwashed that she was sure about another religion. I know that a seed was planted.

  107. We made bags filled with essentials for the needy. Now, we are praying for opportunities to hand them out!

  108. Lots of hard workers around our town who could use a Christmas gift!

  109. Our neighbors

  110. Leigh Anne says:

    Our neighbors and my grandma living in an assisted living home.

  111. Our children’s pastor. She is so dear to our family.

  112. Teresa Crosby says:

    Some friends that run a children’s home in Honduras

  113. I hope to bless my MIL. with a freezer full of food, as she is in a short financial time.

  114. Kim Thompson says:

    We always love doing an Operation Christmas Child shoebox.

  115. Extended family

  116. We did several operation shoe boxes. I try to teach the children in my day care about making special gifts and cards to parents and grandparents, as well as elderly neighbors.

  117. Robin Riley says:

    Our hard-working mailman! He is always so kind to my kids and has a smile for them each day.

  118. We have already given some winter gear to an acquaintance who just moved to MN from CA and didn’t have anything for his kids. We’re so blessed to have been able to do that!

  119. Nicci Ramirez says:

    I wish it were hard to try and think of only ONE person/family :(
    However, one particular person is heavy on my heart. A mother of a special needs daughter who is at her breaking point right now. They have been in and out of the hospital for several days now and her daughter is so anxious and fearful with all that is going on with her that it is making for pretty stressful days and sleepless nights.

  120. Garbage man and mail lady…. I usually do a little something for the mail lady, but have never thought about the trash guys. That will be a “have to” from this year on… Thanks for the giveaways! :)

  121. We give money to the paper guy Theo. He sells us our Sunday paper every week and we look forward to our weekly chat with hi :)

  122. alesha o l says:

    Our daughters help @ school giving to the local food pantry, the one that ironically helps us..I won gcs that we wouldn’t use that I donated to them, plus I donated extra food + litter to .my vet, as I won some, so I believe strongly in paying it forward!!

  123. Heather Carlson says:

    We love to bake cookies and give them to neighbors, mail carriers, garbage haulers, stylists-anyone we are thankful for. We also prepare boxes for Operation Christmas Child.

  124. We are finding different ways to bless children in need so that our children can share what they have.

  125. It’d be fun to give it to my kids with the understanding that they have to use it to bless others. :)

  126. I would bless my friend Tonya who does so much for other but struggles financially because they are following God’s path

  127. I would bless a student who doesn’t have the best home life.

  128. Joy Richardson says:

    I would bless a family that is out of work and can’t afford to celebrate Christmas.

  129. My sister.

  130. So many needs, it’s hard to choose. I have a child in my class whose mom died this spring. My heart just breaks for she and her Dad. He’s trying SO hard!

  131. We like to buy toys for kids on the Angel tree when we have the money to.

  132. I am going to make up a huge batch of freezer crockpot meals for my mom who just had knee replacement surgery and care for my youngest brother who has special needs.

  133. My family always makes a pot of potato soup for Christmas Eve supper and play trivial pursuit. Cheating, by giving hints, is highly encouraged and ensures that the game doesn’t get too competitive.

  134. We got presesnts forbthe nursing home residents this year.

  135. We either “pay it forward” by paying for someone else in a restaurant or store or play St. Nicholas to someone we know who needs a little extra help.

  136. We have several friends we could bless this Christmas, a young family down the road for instance, 2 young boys and struggling this year.

  137. Blessed by so many of these thoughts and plans that have been shared already. This year, I am excited to be opening our home to some international students from our local university.

  138. We make extra goodies and share them with the mailman, delivery men and different people we meet throughout the day ~ those that seem to need encouragment, love and a smile.

  139. Dawn Beaver says:

    There is an older lady at church who wears the same long stand of pearls. She can’t wear a necklace with any clasp because her index finger was cut off in an accident. I’d like to surprise her with a pretty necklace that she can just out over her head.

  140. lots of needs and/or opportunities for giving, for sure. from a young couple expecting their first child & are living with parents, to grandparents helping to raise grandchildren and many who are sick or otherwise in need; seeking to discern the what and whom for now. enjoyed your post! sounds like a blessing for the firemen and the family.

  141. Being with a friend who just had sugery

  142. Every year, we choose someone to buy a gift for off of the Giving Tree at my son’s day care. This year, it was toys for a 6 month old boy. We had such fun picking a few things out.:-)

  143. We want to make a donation to our local compassion cupboard.

  144. Hi Karen and Ruth,

    Your line: “We’ve realized that it is easier to say no to the things that don’t matter…” is what resonates most with me tonight. I agree. :) We work hard to have fewer activities in December, to think of thoughtful simple presents, and to savor time spent together as a family with family games, movies, etc, and to read the accounts of Jesus’ birth together as a family.

    Merry Christmas, ladies,
    Jennifer Dougan
    http://www.jennifeerdougan.com

  145. Megan Linsenbigler says:

    I’ve had 2 babies in the NICU. I would bless those parents who struggle with the challenges that come with that situation .
    God bless

  146. We are going to visit the shut ins from our church this year. We made salt dough ornaments and the kids painted them to give away.

  147. I could give my time to volunteering at a local shelter. My family was in a shelter when I was a child and we were so blessed by the care we got there.

  148. A gift card for groceries/necessities to a friend who has been out of work for a few months!

  149. Michelle S. says:

    There are so many people we could bless. One of these Christmases I’m getting to get organized (better prepared) and participate in random acts of kindness during the month of December and surprise people at random. It could be the greeter at Walmart, the local volunteer firemen, a stranger in the parking lot – every day just pick someone and give them a note, a home baked good, a small gift – something to show them that someone was thinking of them. There is a website devoted to this (the general concept anyway) and I wish I could remember what it is because they had great ideas (and it was something that the family did every year). This would be so much fun. I think we’re going to get baking this weekend and deliver some treats to the local volunteer firemen, the gentlemen who pick up our trash, the postman, etc.

  150. Hubby and I think it is important that the kids try to bless those who we come in contact with all the time: librarians at two libraries, piano teacher, mail ladies, and UPS driver (yes, we practically know her personally!) and our Schwan man. These adults interact with our children on a regular basis and it is important that we take the time to thank them this time of year. Last year it was fun to watch those we baked for smile and thank the boys. It is fun to see others made happy! :)

  151. Paula Draper says:

    We love to go look at houses decorated for Christmas. If we see the homeowner outside, we’ll make a point of telling them how much joy their decorations have brought to our Christmas. If we don’t see anyone, we’ll make a note of the address and drop a note in the mail. Sometimes, a simple “thank you” can really make someone’s day!

  152. Joanna Warren says:

    The children who attend our church from the refugee camps each week have so very little, and the small gifts we can help provide are more than many have ever owned.

  153. We plan on blessing the lady who checks on my husbands grandmother and helps her out because all the family lives away from her.

  154. You have inspired me , my father was a firefighter and I am going to have my girls and boy bake cookies wrap them up and take them to the fire station on Christmas Eve to thank them for working for us while we are home; love that and than you .
    This year after Christmas as a family we are going to serve together with a family at the missions in our area , I am excited to have my kids go through this with us as a family I hope we can be a blessing !

  155. We as well do home backed goodies.

  156. When I was in the military we were stationed in Germany. This was back before cell phones and personal computers. My husband and I worked in computers and our unit worked 24 hours a day in 3 shifts. Most of the personnel were single. I baked 15 coffee cans full of cookies every week. They were given out one can per shift per day for 5 days every week. I can’t remember how many months I did this before I had to stop.

  157. We have given out umbrellas to people begging on the street during extremely hot and sunny weather here in TX

  158. I try to remember to give throughout the season, especially to people who are serving me. I make sure the tip I’m giving is at a higher than normal rate.

  159. Our traditions have ALWAYS included Operation Christmas Boxes, Angel Tree and food baskets at our church. The best was the year that our two oldest boys (now 20 & 22) were about 6 and 8 — they each chose a toy to be given to a child their exact age via Angel Tree. It was particularly difficult for my then 6-year old to give that toy away, but they did. The blessing was that my mom signed them up for her firehouse Christmas party where each child received a gift — you guessed it! My boys received almost identical gifts to what they had donated! They have never forgotten that. God is so good!

  160. I would like to help out one of my clients whose mother has been in rehab and has had a multitude of health issues this year. She has been really stressed by this.

  161. We are blessing those behind bars by making cookies that the local chaplains can distribute.

  162. Yesterday marked my fifth year volunteering at a local organization that helps lower-income families put on Christmas for their kids. We shop for wishlist items, collect them (along with batteries :) ), bake and wrap cookies for them, and deliver them plus wrapping paper to about 1,000 families in our area.

  163. I am good friends and sisters in Christ with a few nurses/administrator at a local nursing home who rarely get the recognition they deserve for treating elderly with love, respect and dignity. Growing up as a child right down the road from the nursing home, my mom would have my brother and I make Christmas cards for the residents as well. So many who serve in big ways that don’t get the recognition they deserve.

  164. Denise White says:

    My husband and I have been unable to have any children of our own, so far in our 5 years of marriage. Last year we decided to sponsor a teenage girl from Kenya through Compassion International. We are going to sponsor another child, The Lord willing in time for Christmas.

  165. Anyone who doesn’t have A warm bed to sleep in on these child winter nights.

  166. I could bless a little girl named Sophia at my school. Her mom just got out of prison and her dad just went in. This sweet little 5 year old girl needs to know the love of Jesus in a very real way.

  167. My son wanted to buy foods for this family with 2 kids, their father lost his job. He said that he feels a “tug” in his heart to do it .. proud momma’s moment! :-)

  168. Every year we take lunch to the folks at our local feed store on the Saturday before Christmas (we have a small farm). In addition, this year God prompted me to give to the cashiers in the Garden Center at Walmart. I handed them some money as we were leaving and told them lunch was on us. My daughter had been a cashier and we learned that unfortunately, the employees at shopping centers don’t receive a lot of Christ’s love, especially during the busy Christmas season.

  169. We’ll be helping the children in an orphanage with Christmas gifts through our church.

  170. Rachelle Dickie says:

    We’re going to make a gingerbread for an elderly couple from our church that I helped make meals for the husband this summer while his wife was in the hospital. She is now out of the hospital, but still not venturing too far. They’ve told me they no longer need help with meals, but I thought they might enjoy a treat at Christmas.

  171. My father-in-law is suffering from terminal cancer and my mother-in-law has been serving him tirelessly during this time. She has just gotten over cancer treatments for herself and now one of her closest friends is also dying of cancer. It has been a rough time for her lately. We are all going up to North Carolina to spend what will probably be my father-in-law’s last Christmas together, so my husband and I would like to bless them with something this year…but we’re not sure what to do yet….

  172. Every year I buy toys for children that I find in my community, operation Christmas child, and make survival baggies for the homeless including emergency blankets and little snacks.

  173. I feel this is so important for my children to learn…it is better to give than receive… we try to bless others during Advent as much as we can. We pick a child from out giving tree at church and at the school. Round up close to new stuffed animals and clothing to donate, ,caroling at the nursing homes and make them Christmas cards and give treats/meal to our older neighbors .

  174. This year at work we are working together to help a 40 yr old patient who is fighting a brain tumor provide Christmas for his family which includes 5 children. We hope to help them enjoy this Christmas season and forget the day to day battle of his disease for a little while.

  175. Wow! Reading this blog and all the comments has been really inspiring. I am very much feeling like our family needs to be doing *more*!! This year, we put together shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. :)

  176. I would like to bless my niece and nephew , their parents separated two months ago their so much fighting over custody they will be spending Christmas vacation with me and family to get away from all the hate going around. My kids offered up their gifts to their cousin so they could have the best Christmas ever.

  177. We plan to bless a family that we’ve known since our teen years. The husband of this family recently feel from a roof & now has brain damage. They are struggling financially so we plan to bless them with a monetary offering.

  178. Friends who lost their homes in the recent Midwest tornadoes.

  179. I’m hoping my sister and I will be able to share a Christmas meal with our neighbors this year.

  180. we do operation Christmas Child shoebxes. We pack the boxes for children that are the same age as our grandchildren.

  181. A missionary family.

    Deborah
    Pink Scissors Design on Etsy
    pinkscissorsdesign @gmail .com

  182. Sharon Shumway says:

    My postman Michael. Every one in my neighborhood has been blessed by him. I am 66 years old and he is the kindest most thoughtful postman I have had in my life. I always remember him at Christmas. This is who I would bless

  183. Elaine Segstro says:

    We gave donations through World Renew of 2 goats, 2 sheep, latrines and water purifying systems to 3rd world countries. We have SO much and they have so little.

  184. Every Christmas season we make a point of bringing treats to the humane society in our town. We bring cookies and treats to the workers and volunteers and new towels and toys for the dogs and cats there. We also buy diapers to donate to the local community pregnancy center. I love the outreach they have to families. They have parenting classes that helps them earn mommy dollars so they can purchase things that they need. They deserve all the support we can give.

  185. We will be blessing some people from our church.

  186. I help our local Crisis center all year but like to do extra stuff at Christmas. Merry Christmas to you all.

  187. Thank You!!!!

  188. I would like to bless our crossing guard.

  189. My friend that will be having yet another cancer surgery as soon as Christmas is over. I am going to cook her a healthy meal and spend some fun “girlie time” with her watching Hallmark movies and praying with her.

  190. My friend Kelly wrote a book entitled Embracing the Spirit of Giving that encourages others to do this for 25 days straight. I don’t do well with extra giving at Christmastime. I feel like we should look to be giving every year. I don’t have someone in mind to do special giving for this year but there was a year that our friend was battling cancer and we blessed their family with an Advent book anonymously. It’s still fun to listen to her tell the story as she still has no clue who gave it to her!

  191. I’ve been trying to be much more intentional. My daughter and I cooked a meal for a local women’s shelter. I’m going to try and do that on a monthly basis.

  192. Susan Holman says:

    We liked to pick someone who is in need and surprise them anonymously. We own a retail business and see so many who fit this description.

  193. Kim Campbell says:

    I would help a homeless veteran.

  194. Helping our homeless, we have many here in my city

  195. We bought an outfit and jacket for a little boy named Mateo from the Salvation Army Angel tree.

  196. We would help anyone that’s sick this holiday or anyone that is out of work, making sure they have food and gifts for Christmas. We are always taken care of by our heavenly Father, it’s the least we could do.

  197. we like to bake and share what we have baked. And we helped with a Christmas gift for a child in Guatemala.

  198. Each year the resident counsel of my apartment building have a yard/bake sale during the year. At Christmas time we take the money we raised and buy school supplies and games for the porest school in our area. We take them to the school a week before Christmas and the kids are so excited to get the things we’ve bought. Last year was my first time doing this and it feels good to bless others.

  199. I would definitely love to bless soldiers overseas with sweet Christmas boxes!

  200. Megan Dowell says:

    Definitely our new neighbors. We recently moved and they have been so welcoming and nice.

  201. My cousin recently moved and is currently without a home. So we’ve completely incorporated her entire family with ours for the holidays (starting with Thanksgiving) even getting her 3 daughters Christmas. As well as trying to help her find a place big enough for their family.

  202. Danielle I says:

    We are planning on blessing a family that has been paying on a piece of furniture for their home for many months. We are going to pay off the remaining so they can have it to sit on during Christmas!

  203. This Christmas my son and I filled 3 shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. It has become a tradition with this being our 4th year participating. Something so small can bring such joy to a child far away!!

  204. Stephanie Moore says:

    We help out kids in local children’s shelters and through a local organization called Country Santa.

  205. My next door neighbor had an accident a few weeks ago (she feel and messed up her hip) She went from the hospital to a rehab center. She lives with her daughter and will most likely make it home right around Christmas; probably a little later. I will make her daughter a dinner or two to put in the freezer. She’s constantly on the go to either be with her mom or run her own errands(mom is in her early 90′s and the daughter is probably somewhere in her 60′s). I’m sure she’d appreciate a home cooked meal that she doesn’t have to fuss with. Thanks for reminding me to look outside my bubble of a family.

  206. Coat drive at our church.

  207. Diane Fetter says:

    Visits and gifts to shut ins or those in nursing homes. they also enjoy caroling.

  208. Micayla Hinds says:

    I buy stuff for a women’s shelter and kids every year. I can’t remember a Christmas where we didn’t do something for those who were less fortunate. I can’t imagine Christmas without that tradition.

  209. Jennifer L. says:

    An elderly lady in our church who broke her hip recently and can’t get out.

  210. God has given me a real heart for pregnancy crisis centers, so we have already and will be taking donations to our local one here. I love the concept of placing a ‘You’ve been blessed’ sign in someone’s yard along with groceries or other needs. Also, we love adopting seniors at our nearby retirement home.

  211. I am a baker and love to make a plethora of goodies every year. So, every year, we make a beautiful package of goodies for each of the widows in our church. We also bless our pastor, youth pastor, and neighbors with a tray of treats. It’s something small that we can do to show them how much we love them. This year, we rang bells for the Salvation Army, too. We had so much fun!

  212. Miranda Roskamp says:

    This year my daughter is 2 1/2, so instead of only blessing our friends and family like always, we decided to teach our daughter to help take care of those other children who may not get presents. She helped pick out toys for a little boy and a little girl, gave our money to the cashier to by them, and then she walked them over to the county cheer box and put the new toys into the box. She didn’t even once ask if she could get one for herself; it was all about picking out for another kid. I was so proud that at 2 1/2 years old, she already was learning about sharing and selflessness. Warmed my heart!

  213. We take cookies to our neighborhood firehouse, mechanics and host a neighborhood holiday open house .

  214. Kathy Smith says:

    Our kids participate in packing shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child each year and we also like to give to overseas missionaries and our local crisis pregnancy center. We like to give cookies to our neighbors and our garbage man and mail carrier.

  215. Gift our local food pantry and Toys for Tots

  216. Latrelle Cyree says:

    Of all the gifts I’ve received over the years–the ones that meant the most were the gifts of “time”. Altho I hand-pick a few well-chosen gifts, the one I plan to give at the nursing home is the gift of TIME. I think the effort you spend on choosing with a personal touch, rather than just buying a gift because you should….shows you REALLY DO CARE.

  217. I’ve always enjoyed taking plates of Christmas cookies to the elderly people in our neighborhood….

  218. Elsa Turner says:

    I try to always give to the Salvation Army. I see first hand how it helps people through my work. I would love to start a tradition of helping a family in need by adopting a family through Christmas angel or something in the future.

  219. We would bless and support the families our church helps. thx

  220. Christy Spurlock says:

    We adopt an Angel from the Angel Tree and purchase the items they are requesting for Christmas.

  221. Jada Smith says:

    We always adopt a family at the school I work at as well as do the individual angel tree gifts! :)

  222. We are creating a special Christmas for a family that we know that’s been through way too much for way too long and needs to feel loved and appreciated and special once again. :(

  223. We are trying to bless lots of people this Christmas season! My favorites so far have been packing shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, buying stocking stuffers for children at a local shelter…and I’ve made a couple of freezer meals for some mom friends of mine who could use a little break from cooking!

  224. My work adopts a family each year. We buy the requested gifts and have a raffle to raise money for a grocery gift card.

  225. Ashley Howerton says:

    We are donating to the women and children’s shelter as well as a Santa’s Castle for the kids on post whose families can’t afford much. Just a little effort to show that there are people who care!

  226. Laurie Williams says:

    We just bought Christmas gifts for a family with 4 children that our Sunday School class is sponsoring. Our kids are going shopping tomorrow for another child.

  227. We have already participated in our angels tree at school, a toy drive with school and we teachers adopted a family also. But this year our family will also visit a local older gentleman who lives alone & take him some treats! I love the idea of visiting the fire house also but think we will visit the police station. It’s right down the street! Thanks for the idea!!!

  228. Carissa D. Huffman says:

    We are sending a calendar with my son’s pictures in it and a handmade (from a craft kit) ornament out to my Aunt Janis. The love of her life went home to be with the Lord suddenly before Thanksgiving. She and Uncle Bob were married about 60 years. He was a great servant of God who loved Jesus and people, so I know she will have a tough time this year.

    Blessings!
    Carissa in eastern Iowa

  229. we like to buy hot chocolate, or coffee, for the Salvation Army bell ringers

  230. Ruth Orozco says:

    Lately we have found ways to support hurting families, such as donating to help cover medical bills.
    We are also trying to “LIght ‘em UP!”

  231. We haven’t decided yet, but each year we get the whole family involved in be a blessing to someone else. If we can do it anonymously, that is even better!

  232. Terri Weidner says:

    Our former foster son.

  233. We are on a light ‘em up challenge with our three children to fill up our sparkle box by Christmas morning as our gift Jesus.

  234. We always help a family with gift cards and food.

  235. We’ve never done anything…so now I’ve got a list of some wonderful things a person can do!

  236. Karla Huey says:

    Some of the kids my daughter goes to school with struggle with food insecurity. I would love to bless their guardian with the opportunity to indulge for their family. We buy gifts for a couple families at Christmas.

  237. We will try to bless the mail carrier with a bag of homemade delights in our mailbox.

  238. The kids teachers

  239. My neighbors and some of the homebound from our church.

  240. One of the ladies in my dorm.

  241. We like to leave baskets of food and toys on a needy families door, ring the bell and run! It’s a great way to be a Secret Santa

  242. Try as I may, I haven’t found a way to out give my God! I’m always looking for ways to share the abundant life my family has been given! We love to always put together boxes for Operation Christmas Child, we give through Samaritan’s Purse in honor and memory of family, we cook meals for those we know that struggle this time of the year because of loss/grief, and I absolutely love to bake for my family!

  243. Baking for our neighbors and handing out Kroger gift cards to those who are struggling financially this year.

  244. Laureen E. says:

    we are doing Project Angeltree, Operation Christmas Child, and an orphanage in Haiti this year, so thankful to share

  245. Bridget Cunningham says:

    We will bless our neighbor. She contemplated suicide about 40 days ago and is now 30 days sober but having a really tough time.

  246. Our family (myself kids plus our church communities) blessed the homeless today with a full course turkey and ham plus al the trimmings dinner. It was wonderful.

  247. Hoping to bless some children this holiday season.

  248. My family is helping one of my brothers who has struggled so much this year. His daughter died; he lost his job and has no money; and he is suffering from multiple serious health problems. We sent him money, but more importantly we bought him a Bible imprinted with his name. He is not a Christian, but with all he has going on we pray he turns to the one and only thing that will give him hope.

  249. Local families in need as well as donations in the form of gifts in the name of our loved ones to world vision.

  250. My hairdresser this particular Christmas because her mom just passed away at 92 years old. It will be a sadder Christmas for her family. I’ve already sent her something to let her know I was thinking of her.

  251. Our good friend whose wife recently left him after ten years of marriage.

  252. Drake cookies for some friends that are experiencing hard times and helping a family in need

  253. We have helped local families that we’ve heard need help several years. Last year I served at our Food Bank Christmas Dinner. It was nice to serve others.

  254. We volunteer at a local food shelter called God’s Pantry and would like to start helping make baskets for hospice since my dad passed away there last year.

  255. I just found out that a single mom lives next door to us, and would like to spread some cheer.

  256. We always read the Christmas story on Christmas Eve. The little ones get to open 1 present. New pajamas are put on after baths and they are ready to be tucked in to “wait” for Santa. Funny, they all fall asleep before he get here.

  257. Melissa Fordyce says:

    My neighbor who lives alone .

  258. We have some dear friends who we used to pay to watch our girls during the day, but we no longer can afford to pay them. They have no additional income now, and I would love to be able to bless them with some necessities for their home, food, and winter clothing.

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