First things first –> Stop right now and register for Pure Charity. Install the Internet browser widget to be notified when you’re shopping at an affiliate, and also register your credit card. This way, all of your Christmas shopping at most major retailers (think Walmart, Apple, Amazon, Best Buy, Target, J Crew, Shutterfly, etc.) will give you a percentage of your purchase back – right into your Pure Charity giving fund.

Then you can fund field projects close to your heart – such as, oh, I don’t know, our  Haiti School Legacy Project….. (hint, hint). 

Done? Lovely. Let’s proceed, shall we?

I feel like Oprah – with cheaper taste, a deep need for comfy things, and a Canadian accent.


Call the Midwife, Series One. Set in the east end of 1950s London, this show follows Jenny Lee, a new midwife, and her co-workers. It delves deep into the themes of women and work, birth and life, poverty and privilege, loneliness and community, with such gentle insight and humour.

Downton Abbey, Series 1 and 2 box set. I’ve already watched Series 3 online (and it’s amazing) but this PBS set of DVDs for the first two seasons would be a great gift. I find it impossible to choose a favourite character or couple on this smart and humane programme.

Of course, you’ll need a French Press and a hand knit French Press cozy. This sleek press makes 8 cups of coffee. A few of you have emailed asking where I got my own little french press cozy as it often shows up on Instagram. There are lots of them out there – much nicer than mine, I might add – so check Etsy, but I made my own (here’s the pattern). So if you’re a fledgling knitter looking for simple handmade gifts, that’s your ticket.

This is my favourite mug. I have the B one – for Bodacious Besseys of course.

Now, let’s talk books. These were my favourites from the year:

A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting On Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband Master by Rachel Held Evans – A disarmingly funny, wise, honest exploration of what makes a woman “biblical” and the danger of reducing the Bible to an adjective.

What It Is Is Beautiful by Sarah Dunning Park – a slim collection of poetry for the mothers of tiny children. Singing my life, she is.

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton – Gothic-style mysteries set in England are my one weakness.

Little Bee by Chris Cleave -devastating and beautiful novel that grabs one by the throat.

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson – probably one of the loveliest books I’ve read, it’s spare and poetic spiritual American story-telling at its best.

An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith by Barbara Brown Taylor – wise exploration and perspectives, beautifully written. This is is also where I first heard that question I keep on about: “What is saving your life right now?”

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes From An Accidental Country Girl & The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier by Ree Drummond – These not-at-all-fat-free-books are the source of most comfort food cooking that takes place in my house. Family favourites: pot roast, thai chicken pizza every Friday night, fried chicken tacos, cinnamon buns, pretty much all of it. Brian is a BIG BIG FAN and celebrates when these books are out on the counter at supper time.

(You can also check out my popular-on-Pinterest 10 Book Lists if you’re looking for books for tinies, books for older tinies, my comfort-reading favourites, and other lists.)


I’m not a music connoisseur, but these albums were all on repeat this year – and still are.

Babel by Mumford & Sons

Ghosts Upon the Earth by Gungor

Love, War & The Sea In Between by Josh Garrels.

Also loved this little EP called The Morning Sun by Michaela McLaird.

I received one little Love Feast velvet pumpkin as a gift this summer. It’s a delight to me. Isn’t it funny how such small things make us so happy? They have a pretty fantastic shop: a full large set of gorgeous velvet pumpkins would be pretty amazing, but my biggest love is reserved for the gold Mother’s Tree of Life necklace.

I picked up a peel-and-stick chalkboard this year, and stuck it to a kitchen cupboard.  It’s another one of those little things that make me happy.


My favourite local store here in Abbotsford is called Spruce Collective. If I could transport that entire shop to my home, I would in about two seconds. Brian thinks he has his shopping very easy this year – he has one stop to make.  So if you’re shopping local, start there for the BEST unique, vintage, and eclectic stuff. (Plus, there’s a little kid spot for your tinies to hang out while you wander.) Mama-owned, FTW.

Hill Country Hill Tribers is an artist collective, based in Austin. They make beautiful jewellery, handwoven scarves, and accessories, all exquisitely handmade by refugee artisans. I already have this necklace and love it, but let me tell you, I wouldn’t say no to this handwoven scarf by Jan.

Haitian Creations is the economic development arm of Heartline Ministries. Tara and Troy Livesay were among the highlights of my trip (my only regret being that I couldn’t stay for a sleepover so we could finish about two dozen conversations). I bought a purse here – the Maz style – and I cannot tell you how many compliments I receive on it. It’s sturdy, well-made, and gorgeous. They have many different styles of purses, but also jewellery and metal art.


Gift Guide Party

Sarah’s Favourite Things ~Sarah Bessey

Natural & Eco Friendly Gifts for Family & Friends ~Sorta Crunchy

Stylish Gifts ~Fried Okra

Gifts for the Adventurous ~ Nish Happens

Gifts for the Wine Lover ~Blah Blah Blahger

Healthy Gifts ~Joy in this Journey

Gifts Tweens Want to Get ~ Kelly at Love Well

Photography Gifts ~Kelly Sauer

Gifts for Toddlers ~O My Family

Gifts for HIM ~LoveFeast Table

And last but not least, don’t forget these tips for your Christmas shopping from Kristen Howerton of Rage Against the Minivan. I try to let these actions be my guide wherever possible.

Disclosure: some affiliate links are used but I received absolutely NO compensation, sponsorship, or incentive to feature any of these gifts. They are all items I’ve used and loved all year long.

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  • Harriet

    so um…. what it is is beautiful is not available until spring next year? did you just have a review copy?

    • It’s not available through Amazon until next year but it’s available at the publisher’s site. It’s also under $7. Here’s the link:

      • Kristen

        And it is phenomenal! I am so glad to see that you featured it here! I just recently met and befriended Sarah. She is a wonderful, wonderful person and the book is sure to bless any young mom in the trenches!

        • That is wonderful to hear, Kristen. Thank you!

      • Harriet


  • Love these ideas! Just had to share my response to Gilead when I read it: boring, boring, boring, almost didn’t make it through and then suddenly I’m bawling my head off. The end.

  • JennaDeWitt

    Found Chris Ayer via a NoiseTrade Sampler. Imo, he’s a pretty good follow-up to all the music you listed. 🙂

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  • Sarah! Thank you for the gift of mentioning LoveFeast Shop~truly an unexpected surprise. And to think we made it in the same list with Downton Abby and Mumford. Dreams do come true. Love you friend!

    • haha well, my little pumpkin makes me too happy not to include it!

  • ooh, i am reading An Altar in the World right now, and it is saving my life. and yay for sarah’s book! (she and i went to college together:)

    • Seriously, so so so good. her other one “Leaving Church “is also wonderful. And loved Sarah’s book so much, I want to hand it out to all mamas now. So fun you know each other.

  • See?? You’re totally cool! I love your list, only you’ll have to fight me for the contents of Spruce Collective. It’s mine, all mine, I say.

  • I bought Altar to the World, but haven’t read it. Perhaps, my over Christmas reading. And I adore your French Press cozy.

  • the Blah Blah Blahger

    I’m definitely asking Santa for Call the Midwife! 🙂

    • Well, fair’s fair. I’m asking for pretty much your entire gift guide. 😉

  • Megan (FriedOkra)

    Love these! I’ve never had French press coffee. The cozy is enough to make me desperate to rectify that matter immediately. (Cozy is my love language.)

  • Just want to chime in and say this was a GREAT blog hop! Really excited to see something for tweens, and wine lovers, and I came here first because I knew I’d find books – even though that’s totally a gift for myself! Very thorough and fun! Thanks for putting this together.

    • So glad you enjoyed it, Heather! I picked up a few items from the others, too. They were fantastic.

  • What a great list! Thank you! Sarah, I started watching Call the Midwife last week after remembering that you had recommended it before. It is a great show. But, I think it should have some kind of warning label, like “View Discretion Advised, if Viewer Has Recently Given Birth to a Teeny Tiny Baby and May Still Be Flooded with Hormones.” After *sobbing* my way through the first four episodes, my sister intervened and told me I’m not allowed to watch any more. Haha! I will finish it someday though!

    • hahaha Now that is just wonderful. I won’t tell you about the Christmas special then… 😉

  • janetb1

    Love the show Call The Midwife. I was disappointed to have watched the series finale a few weeks ago. As I understand it there is a holiday special on PBS on December 30 at 8pm. That is a good thing!!
    I have never seen Downton Abbey. I hear I an missing a great show. I will have to tune in.

  • stephsday

    Call The Midwife is my favorite. That said, I probably wouldn’t want to receive the DVDs as a gift. I much prefer the “watch online” or “check out at the library” alternatives. 🙂

  • stephsday

    P.S. I’m running a Christmas Gift Guide this year too:

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