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.
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.