Does it seem as though the number of days until Christmas is running down about as fast as your bank account? That can be a real problem, especially if (like me), you’ve still got umpteen people on your gift list. Take heart. There’s a way to do this without stressing yourself or your finances.  

Give gifts that mean a lot, but don’t cost a lot.

There really is something to the old adage, “It’s the thought that counts.” It really is the thought that counts, and giving a gift that shows you put thought – and feeling – into it will count far more than giving a gift with a sizable price tag.

The premise is to give as Christ gave – with love and real interest in the person who will receive it.

Here’s how to get started. Think about the person, not the gift. Rather than asking, “What should I get this person?” ask “Who is this person?” or “Who is this person to me?”

Consider the person’s hobbies, habits, and fetishes. This about how you’re connected to that person and why he or she is on your list. This will go a long way in putting together a present with more meaning than money.

Ready?

Here are 3 ideas for gifts that mean a lot, but don’t cost a lot.

Give a theme gift.

Collect an array of small items that reflect a hobby, interest, or quality of the receiver. For example, a book lover might enjoy a volume or two (or three – think half-priced book stores), with a reading light, candy or cookies, and artsy-fun book mark.

Somebody who likes to cook might like a basket filled with kitchen gadgets and a humorous or sentimental apron. You could throw in a bottle of sherry as well.

Combinations of treats – candies, cookies, coffees, or teas – are great for just about anybody including folks you don’t know very well.

Arrange your treasures nicely in a basket, gift bag or box from a dollar discount store or second-hand shop.  Personally, I like to use wicker baskets because they’re sturdy and I like the look of them.

Don’t stop there, though. Include a small card with a promise of prayer. Be specific and then really do it. Few people will not appreciate prayers even if they’re not prayerful themselves.

Give a Work of Mercy.

A gift doesn’t always have to be what you give; it can be something you do. What better time than during this Year of Mercy to give a work of mercy to someone you care about?

Give the elderly aunt you never see a written invitation to have lunch or dinner with you. If taking her out to a restaurant is beyond your budget, bring her dinner or make it for her at your place. Or, do a movie night with friends – rent or buy a DVD and spring for the microwave popcorn and soft drinks. The ideas are limitless, Granted, your time isn’t so you’ll have to be careful not to extend yourself on this one.

And, of course, include a small card with a promise of prayer in the invite.

Give a Memory.

Find a picture of the gift recipient (preferably of the two of you enjoying time together) or of one of a loved one who has passed away and put it in a unique frame. Then go the extra mile by having a Mass or two said for the loved one, saying a novena for your friend, or inviting your friend to join you in a novena or special devotion for his or her special intention. Include a copy of the devotion and/or Mass card.

We’ve been conditioned to believe that the value of a gift depends upon the total on the receipt. That’s not true at all. The value of the gift depends on the value of the intention and the reason you’re giving it. We give Christmas gifts, not to impress people, but to celebrate the Birth of Christ, the greatest gift of all.