1. Give the Gift of No Gifts
That’s right, our #1 neighbor gift idea is No Gifts. As fun as it is to give and receive Christmas gifts from neighbors, we wanted our #1 idea to be one that truly encompasses the Christmas spirit. This idea could take a little planning on your part, but the rewards are well worth it.
Instead of giving neighbor Christmas gifts, agree as a neighborhood not to. Use all of the money that would have been spent on each other towards a charitable cause.
Here is an example of a possible invitation for a neighborhood caroling night:
“Instead of giving neighborhood gifts, Together a family’s hearts we will lift. Use that money to fill your shopping cart With toys and food, a gift from the heart. One family will start the caroling tradition Singing while on a neighborhood mission. We’ll arrive on your doorstep singing a song, Grab your family and join in, you’ll come right along. But before stepping out and starting to sing Don’t forget your charitable donation to bring. To the next door we’ll carol and add to our crowd We’ll add and we’ll add ‘til we’re incredibly loud. Finally we’ll stop for a neighborhood treat, At the Cauffmans’ home we will mingle and greet. Although our fingers and toes may be freezin’ We will capture the true spirit of this special season. "Please join us as our neighborhood carols for a cause on December 15th. We will start caroling at 7 o’clock and pick up your family sometime shortly thereafter. We plan to finish at the Cauffmans’ home for treats around 8 o’clock. Thank you for being a part of something bigger this year as our neighborhood grants a special family’s Christmas wish."
2. Share the Simple Significance of a Christmas Towel
Two weeks before the Christmas of 1990, Latter-day Saint Holly Rich Beckstrand was a newly married young woman working as an administrative assistant for a team of Air Force contractors, one of whom happened to be her father-in-law. One day, her father-in-law came to her with the request to write a poem about a towel to give out to his neighbors. He wanted the gift for his traditional neighborhood gift exchange to represent the towel that may have been used to wrap the baby Jesus and remind people of that significance when they did their daily chores with towels.
“To be honest, I wasn’t thrilled with the request,” Beckstrand told LDS Living. “In addition to my full-time job, I was also attending school and was in the middle of finals. If I did have spare time during the workday, I certainly did not want to write a poem to make a gift more meaningful for someone else. This was my father-in-law’s gift, not mine. Nonetheless, I thought of what I could write that would satisfy the request and increase the gift’s significance.”
A few hours later, Beckstrand gave the poem to her father-in-law without a signature of authorship. But since that day, Beckstrand has seen the poem float around in different areas of the world. Sometimes words were changed, or it was paraphrased in a new way. After finding a version of it published on LDS Living, Beckstrand shared the story of this poem's origin and the original text, which we are delighted to share with our readers:
- At first glance, one looks at a kitchen towel and thinks
- “Wow, a towel . . . I needed a new one” or
- “Wow, a towel, the old ones are getting stained and worn.”
- But have we ever stopped to think that for years,
- Even thousands of years,
- The towel has not just been used in the kitchen,
- But for a variety of reasons?
- Take for example the mother who wipes the tears of a little child
- To soothe the physical and emotional hurt;
- The physician who binds the wound of a bleeding patient;
- The woman in her home wiping her hands
- As she moves from task to task;
- The weary traveler who wipes his sweated brow.
- Some other examples would be the manager of a boxer
- Who “throws in the towel” to save the life of his protégé' or
- The young man wiping the grease off his hands as he fixes the old jalopy.
- Notwithstanding all of the above examples,
- Perhaps the most significant use of the towel was about two thousand years ago when
- Our loving brother took an ordinary towel in his hands and
- Dried the feet of his disciples only hours before his crucifixion.
- Sure, the towel is a handy item with a myriad of uses, but it also has deep symbolic meaning
- When seen in the hands of the Savior doing a work of kindness for his fellow men.
- So take this towel, knowing it is given with love, and do works of goodness with it,
- as the Savior worked goodness with his so many years ago.
3. Do Your Neighbors' Dishes
Doing the dishes for your neighbor? What could be a better gift than that? Deliver paper plates with a tag saying, “Don’t let your dishes pile up this busy holiday season. Let our family ‘do the dishes’ this week!"
4. Give Your Neighbors Some Energy
Batteries are essentials on Christmas morning. Your neighbors will appreciate this practical gift!
And here's a great tag idea to accompany them: “Hope you have enough energy to make it through the holidays! Merry Christmas!”
5. Help Your Neighbors Simplify Their Junk Drawer
The best gifts are always simple, useful, and inexpensive. Try this easy idea: transparent tape. We all need it, especially at Christmastime. Decorate it or simply put the rhyme on it.
Here’s a great poem that can be attached to this gift:
"Christmastime is often a rush, With so much to do and no time to hush. We hope this tape on the fridge in full sight, Will keep you home from the store one more night!"
Cute, huh? But here’s what makes it ingenious: hot glue a magnet on the back so that it never gets lost because it’s on the refrigerator. Priceless.
Dispensers with an open back wouldn’t work as well, so keep that in mind when you’re buying your tape.
We keep our tape on the side of the refrigerator all year and never have to scramble to find it. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!
6. Keep the Germs Away
This is not only a gift we love giving, it's one we’d love to receive! This no-calorie gift is practical and fun to receive, and you can use any type of soap.
But of course, it needs a fun creative tag to make it great: “We wash you a merry Christmas, we wash you a merry Christmas, we wash you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!”
7. Share a Simple and Sweet Reminder of the Nativity
Attach a bag of M&M’s to a tag that says the:
“As you hold these candies in your hand and turn them you will see, The M become a W, an E, and then a 3. They tell the Christmas story, it’s the one I’m sure you know. It took place in a stable a long, long time ago. The E is for the East, where the star shone so bright. The M is for the manger where baby Jesus slept that night. The 3 is for the Wise Men bearing gifts and so they came. W is for worship—Hallelujah, praise His name. So as you eat these candies, or share them with a friend, Remember the meaning of Christmas . . . It’s a story that never ends.”
► You'll also like: 14 Unique Nativities from Around the World + More
8. Give Your Neighbors a Heart Attack
Spread some love this season with holiday heart attacks!
You’ve probably seen paper “heart attacks” around Valentine’s Day, but why not show your neighbors some love at Christmas time? Make a bunch of Christmas-colored hearts with your family and write little notes to your neighbors on them. Then stick them on the front of their door for a fun holiday heart attack surprise!
9. "Take Note" of All the Good Your Neighbors Do
Do you often take the opportunity to tell your friends and neighbors how grateful you are and that you “take note” of how much they do for you? Christmas is the perfect occasion for gratitude and recognition, and this is the perfect avenue.
Everyone can use a cute note pad. We got ours at a craft store for a dollar, and it has a magnet on the back (added plus). Remove the cellophane and personalize it by being the first one to leave a note for your friend.
Find classy and cute notepads for every occasion at deseretbook.com.
10. Get Your Neighbors Out of a Jam
Christmas is always so busy, so why not take all the hard work you did in the summer and make Christmas a breeze? We took gallons of cherries and made them into Christmas gifts in July, so when the holidays arrived, we were already prepared.
Tag idea: “Don’t let the season get you in a jam. We hope this helps keep your Christmas cherry and bright.”
If you’re feeling ambitious, take your jam with a loaf of bread or some rolls. Too busy for any of the homemade stuff? Buy the jam, decorate it, and you’re good to go!
11. Keep Your Neighbors Warm and Cozy
These hand warmers are so great for cold toes after sledding or a snowball fight. You just pop them in the microwave for a couple minutes, put them on your cold toes or hands, and—aahh—instant warmth. They are also great for sore muscles.
Attach to this gift a simple tag: “Stay warm and toasty this holiday season. Merry Christmas!”
To make: Sew a pouch, fill it with wheat or rice, and sew it closed. I used a washcloth for my material and added a ribbon embellishment, but you could use any fabric. (Be sure not to use ribbon with wire in it—for obvious reasons.)
12. Treat Your Neighbors to Cookie Cans
Cookies aren't just for Santa—they're great for neighbors too. Clean and cover any type of can that has a lid (baby formula cans work great) with festive scrapbook paper or wrapping paper. Grab your favorite cookie recipe and start baking with your family.
Fill your Christmas cookie cans (to the brim please!) and deliver to smiling neighbors and friends.
13. Give the Gift of a Good Meal
Dinnertime is crazy, especially during the holidays. Relieve your neighbors one night by ‘making’ them dinner—a frozen meal that they can just pop in the oven. If you have enough time, you can make a day of it and make a lot of frozen dinners . . . or just buy some. Either way, you can feel good knowing you’ve helped out your neighbor for one night.
Tag idea: “‘What’s for dinner?’ During the holidays we hear this a lot; just heat this [lasagna] until it is hot!”
14. Get Wrapped Up in the Spirit of Giving
Attach Christmas tags and bows to a roll of wrapping paper and you have an easy neighbor Christmas gift you know they can use.
Here's a great tag to place on your tags: “Wrap yourself up in a wonderful holiday season.”
We hope these gift-giving ideas make your Christmas season a little simpler and help you make some sweet family memories.
For more great gift and holiday ideas, check out these simple suggestions from the Six Sisters.
Alysha Cauffman contributes to howdoesshe.com, a blog for crafts, recipes, DIY projects, and more.