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From the Heart

I recall giving wrapped, handwritten notes to my mom as a young child. They would say, “Redeem for extra help in the kitchen or good for babysitting while you go to the store.” The special ones would say, “Redeem for an attitude adjustment on a cranky day.”

My mom loved getting my gifts and always made a big deal of exchanging the gift for whatever I offered. It gave me a special feeling of satisfaction to know I helped my mom through such simple, heartfelt gifts.

It’s easy to take your children to the store and buy a gift of material value. This season, let them experience a gift with more meaning by giving one they are more personally invested in. Help your children make a list of ideas for gifts of service or gifts of the heart. If you’re looking for some gift ideas for your children to give you, your husband, their grandparents, siblings, or another relative or close family friend, here are some ideas to help.



  • Redeem for a week-end day of performing your chores.
  • Good for a week of practicing my manners every day.
  • Redeem for help washing the windows.
  • Good for helping younger sibling with homework.



  • Redeem for help washing and vacuuming mom’s car.
  • Good for a day without electronics.
  • Redeem for help with lawn care.
  • Good for no grumbling when asked to do a special chore.



  • Redeem for cleaning your room.
  • Good for a kind attitude toward you all weekend.
  • Redeem for extra time on the XBox (TV or whatever works).
  • Good for letting you and your friend have the evening alone.



  • Redeem for time together at the movies
  • Good for help with a cleaning project
  • Redeem for help on your next shopping trip
  • Good for a game of cards or board game of your choice


Beyond Gifts

There are other ways to give gifts without price tags, but they don’t get wrapped up and put under the tree. They’re gifts we offer to those around us during the hectic, crazy holiday season.

As a mom to five, I’ve struggled through difficult holiday seasons — days full of out-of-control emotions, hectic schedules, noncooperative kids and countless other stressors. After a particularly difficult year, I evaluated the details of the season and determined the missing ingredients to our holiday season were ample doses of grace and flexibility.

It’s easy to find ways to give grace and flexibility to our children, our spouse, our co-workers and others during tension-filled moments and stress-filled days. We can choose to offer grace toward hurtful words and a flexible spirit when a stubborn demeanor shows up, enabling a peaceful environment.

When I learned my husband’s job was ending as the holidays began a few years ago, I knew he would need extra grace and a flexible spirit from me as he explored new opportunities. It wasn’t easy for my always-have-a-plan character to not know what was around the corner, but I learned to accept uncertainty and change as part of our journey. I learned to recognize when the job-hunting seemed tedious and discouraging for my husband and he needed an extra dose of grace.

Our kids have hard days during the holiday season, too. Expectations of perfect behavior at grandma’s house, striving for a straight-A report card amidst too many extracurricular activities or hard feelings with a friend can bring on unexpected meltdowns. Be sensitive to your child’s surroundings and recognize when they need some extra grace to renew their overwhelmed spirit or deflated attitude.

Heather Hetchler, mom to six says, “While most gifts end up in a landfill, grace and flexibility help create cherished memories that will forever live in the hearts of those who receive these precious gifts.”

Many families have unique challenges that show up during the holidays. Addiction seeps into homes, creating havoc and dissension. Mental illness rears its ugly head, resulting in confusion and uncertainty. The loss of a loved one creates a sad reminder that holidays will never be the same. Grace is the perfect answer when irritability, sadness or frustration set in.

Remember to offer grace to yourself as well. During the holiday season, we face joys and challenges daily. Some days we handle the pressure well and show others the love and respect they deserve. Other days we don’t and would like to request a do-over. Give yourself the gift of grace on tough days. Let go of the need for perfect holidays and strive for meaningful ones that will include bumps along the way.

Flexibility becomes a necessary part of unwrapping holiday peace when schedules change or the unexpected happens — illness, job loss, marital disharmony. These unexpected events create heartache that disrupts holiday peace. Flexibility becomes the key to creating a peace-filled moment amidst stressed-out emotions.

Model the gift of flexibility with your kids by maintaining a calm demeanor on busy days. Adopt a go-with-the-flow attitude as you move from classroom parties to Christmas band concerts.

Jan Gull, stepmom to three, says she incorporates flexibility during the holiday season with “more being, less doing.” She maintains a schedule that allows time to create memories as a family through baking cookies together and making gifts for others instead of spinning the web of excessive spending and gift-giving.

Grace and flexibility are not always easy to offer, but can be priceless gifts when extended during stressful periods. We can intentionally choose to make choices that allow for a peaceful season.

Gifts without price tags are a great gift for anyone. Whether you choose one to wrap as a gift or select one to offer in passing, you’re making the right choice.

A smile, hug, respect, kindness, unconditional love and a shoulder for someone in need are all free. Give out a bunch this holiday season!


Gayla Grace is an author and stepfamily coach with a his, hers and ours family. She loves helping nontraditional families learn to thrive in their relationships.

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