Friday, November 30, 2007

Gift Giving Ideas

A Carnival of Sorts (in Progress)

This is the first edition of a collection of ideas and suggestions from all over for celebrating Christmas through gift-giving of all sorts. Please add your own links and ideas to the comments of this post. Keep in mind that because we already review a lot of books and movies, we'll just highlight a few items of special interest (particularly Christmas related ones).

This is mostly intended for busy Catholic homeschool moms who have a lot on their plates during Advent and Christmastime and might appreciate these ideas for their children or for others.

Homemade Gifts -

Gift of Prayer: (contributed by Suchi) Get a package of pre-stamped postcards and address them to yourself. (Use self-adhesive labels to make it easier.) Put the name of the recipient on the return address spot. On the message portion, write something like this: Please pray for (leave space for intention). You could add an explanation and tie all together with a pretty ribbon. The cards are to be used to request prayers. Our Mom's group did this for priests who were leaving our parish. This is a company that works with other websites, such as flickr, to make quality-printed homemade books from your photos, stories, blogs or whatnot. The small paperback versions (great for those who don't need at thing - and don't have much space - but would love family photo type things) start at only $12.

"The Thrifty Homeschooler Goes Christmas Shopping" by Maureen Wittmann

The Beauty of Toymaking Fair (December 2007)

Like Merchant Ships is a site with lots of money-saving ideas with a significant emphasis on homemade and economy gift-giving with class.

Gift-Basket Ideas- (Contributed by Margot Davidson)

One of my favorite things to do is put together theme baskets. For children, a basket with a book and a mug and some hot cocoa packets (This is fun for adults, too with flavored cocoa or coffees or teas); or a planter with soil, seeds and a book on gardening. I'm not sure where this fits in your list. This is a really fun thing to put together while thinking about the person you are gifting. There are oodles of gift baskets online, but all overpriced for what you get and can be done so much nicer by individuals. Some suggested themes:

Chocolate - pieces of chocolate, cocoa or mocha mixes, cookie mix, mugs;

Afternoon Tea - variety of teas and biscuits, lacey napkins or tablecloths;

Romantic - wine, cheese, wine glasses, CD of Mozart or Vivaldi or other classical music, and a pretty tablecloth;

Night at the Movie(s) - DVD, microwave popcorn, bowls, parmesan or "Spike" seasoning;

Home Comfort - homemade jams and breads, checkered table cloth.

Charity-Related -

Food for the Poor Gift Catalog (donate to a worthy cause as a gift to someone)

Memberships -

For local zoos, history sites, art museums, natural history museums, etc.

Books with puppets - like these

Picture Books:

A Day on Skates by Hilda Van Stockum

An Egg is Quiet by Dianna Hutts Aston

An Illustrated Catechism by Inos Biffi

The Lady of Guadalupe by Tomie de Paola (and many others by this author!)

The Life of Mary by Inos Biffi

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney

A Seed is Sleepy by Dianna Hutts Aston

Find more book recommendations here.

Grade School Age:

The Dangerous Book for Boys by Hal Iggulden

The Father Brown Reader: Stories from Chesterton by Nancy Carpentier Brown

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Sterling Point Series (recently reissued Landmark and North Star books)

Tintin Books

High School Age:

Leave it to Psmith by P.G. Wodehouse

The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton

The Shadow of the Bear by Regina Doman


(Religious - I would suggest not to use gift-giving as an occasion for preaching - gifts should be things that you believe someone will enjoy, not go "huh?" For those who aren't likely to read a religious book on their own, perhaps an inspiring novel with a wonderful nugget of truth contained therein would be a more appropriate option).

Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict XVI
John Paul II's Book of Saints by Matthew and Margaret Bunson
Meditations from the Oratory: Praying with the Creed by Fr. Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R.
My Cup of Tea by Danielle Bean (especially for young moms)
Seek That Which Is Above by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

Other -

coming soon

Audio Books -

Jeeves books (by P.G. Wodehouse) on audio, narrated by Jonathan Cecil
Jim Weiss audio dramas

Blackstone Audiobooks (they offer many classic titles including works by Chesterton and Dickens AND offer a 50% discount for homeschoolers!)

Dramatized Narnia Audios

Movies -

Come to the Stable

I Remember Mama

It's a Wonderful Life

also see: Love2learn at the Movies for more movie recommendations

Games -

Settlers of Catan
Ticket to Ride
Perspective (scroll down for review)
Scrambled States of America
Apples to Apples

Toys -

Playmobil Nativity Set
Viewmaster Slides (we especially like the non-fiction ones available through this site - such as can be found in the following categories: Animals, Architecture, International, Religious, Space). This year our youngest will be getting a Viewmaster projector - intended for slides with sound - but work with traditional slides as well.

Jennifer from As Cozy as Spring shares some favorites.

Also see: "A Small Gift for a Small Girl" by Regina Doman

Art/Craft Supplies -

Fenestrae Fidei
Illuminated Ink
Our Lady's Rosary Makers (They have materials for making rosaries as gifts, but I think some children would love to get a rosary-making kit - with nice colorful beads and such - for Christmas. Keep in mind that when buying the "mission" rosary-making materials, you are agreeing to give them away.)

Food -

Subscriptions -

for kids:


St. Joseph Messenger



for families:

Gilbert! Magazine

for Catholic homeschool moms:

Heart and Mind
Faith and Family

Music -

WeeSing CD and book sets

Cool Educational Gifts for Homeschool Families - (courtesy of M.E. )

- a good quality microscope (they range in price from $50 for a nice simple one that works with sunlight, good for younger kids, to $125 and up for the high school quality ones).

- science kits (chemistry, magnets, electrical, etc.)

- the zoo or museum memberships someone already mentioned, maybe with a small craft or art or science kit to make it more fun during gift-opening time

- hand-made coupons for "learn to bake with Grandma", or "learn to knit (crochet/tat/ quill/sew/ etc.) with Auntie", "go golfing with Grandpa", etc.

- tickets to a play or ballet or symphony

- dress-up clothes (could be vintage clothing from Grandpa and Grandma's closets, large pieces of silk and velvet from the fabric store, etc.)

- puppets and puppet theater (or even just a big appliance box, some paint, fabric and a dowel for a curtain, and an offer from Grandpa and Grandma to help build the theater)

also see: Lissa's amazing collection of posts on great gift ideas for homeschoolers.

Companies/Catalogs of Interest -

Illuminated Ink
Our Lady's Rosary Makers
The Catholic Child
Leaflet Missal Company
Sophia Institute Press (20% discount on children's books through Dec. 17th - coupon code: chldbk20)
Mepkin Abbey Gift Shop
Michael Olaf
Montessori Services
Hearth Song
A Greater Gift

Also, Danielle Bean has the lowdown on all kinds of Christmas shopping deals online.

Idea Websites of Interest:

O Night Divine

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